Meet Nanrisa Lee, who plays Jenn Chu on Quantum Leap.
Neil Bui: Hi Nanrisa, my name is Neil. I’m with Dorkaholics.com.
Nanrisa Lee: Hi Neil, how are you?
Neil Bui: I’m good. I just watched tonight’s episode of Quantum Leap – Ben Song for the Defense, so I feel like I really know your character now.
Nanrisa Lee: What did you think? Sassy?
Neil Bui: I wanted to ask what you thought! How would you describe your character Jenn Chu?
Nanrisa Lee: I think Jen is a little bit of a black sheep on the team. I think because of where she comes from, she was a felon, she served time. Magic found her because she got caught hacking and it was something that she is normally very good at, and I think Jenn still has a little bit of a gripe about the way she was caught. But on some pretty serious offenses and served some time, so I think Jenn because of her history because she’s a little bit of a rebel that way, because she grew up with a father who has a serious gambling addiction and I think when you grow up with a parent that has an addiction like that, it creates an unstable environment for the kid. And so, I think Jenn grew up very early, very independent, very self-sufficient, because she had to. And so, I think those are the strengths that she brings to the team, maybe with a little humor, a little attitude, a little sass, I think she brings a lot of color.
Neil Bui: I agree. How would you describe the impact this role has on Asian representation?
Nanrisa Lee: Oh man I’m going to get emotional. I think the fact that we have that Ray is on the show and that I am on the show, and we play characters who aren’t husband and wife, we aren’t brother and sister, it’s just two Asian Americans that happen to be in the main cast on a show and there isn’t really an explanation needed. It was something that I had a conversation with casting early on but I’m so proud of that. I think that’s significant for where casting and visibility is today. And this is a network show and I just think like for so many people where there isn’t a huge Asian population to be able to see that and that’s just life. I’m really proud of that. Before I met Ray I messaged him just quickly and just said ‘hey congratulations and not to be a goober about it, but I don’t know you but I’m so proud of you, to be number one on a show.’ I didn’t watch the award ceremony last night but waking up to that news, I watched that [Everything Everywhere All At Once] in the theater and I was caught off guard by how Michelle Yeoh had this this one moment in a scene that was like really beautiful and it really showed the complexity of her character and her situation and it caught me off guard, I got really emotional about it. I thought I was kind of like a crusty old, jaded actor who’d been kicking around in LA. [But then] that really hit me, representation really matters. To be able to see that I feel very proud to be part of a show that has visibility in that way, that that hopefully sends a message to a lot of other people that look like me.
Neil Bui: This episode really featured your character’s quick thinking especially when it comes to let’s say using future knowledge to help with racing results and that really created like this different experience for Ben and audiences. What was the experience like for you playing such a pivotal role in this episode?
Nanrisa Lee: I had a great time, I loved being able to shoot with Ray with Ben and Jenn having together because you don’t see them together prior to that really. That was just so fun to make, I think I also just really loved that there was a chance to show the relationship and the dynamic between those two characters, a little bit of familial feeling there. Before Ben leapt, Jen and Ben had a great friendship and I think that there was probably a lot of humor in that, maybe a little goading. Before he leapt, maybe he was a bit more reserved so for Jenn to be able to see him in this light now that he’s really sort of developed out these other aspects of his personality that maybe she didn’t really know about before or wasn’t as familiar with, I think is great. But also it’s a little bit of that like “hey man listen I knew you when you were still back at the program” and like I still know that I can kind of like goad him a little bit and it was fun to be able to show those aspects and to have fun and to be able to play off of Ray in those scenes as well because his comedy is so great. And for us to sort of just have a good time and hit some of those moments.
Neil Bui: Besides this episode, Ben Song for the Defense, what other episodes have you found being incredibly memorable from this season?
Nanrisa Lee: I really love the Halloween episode. I just think that it’s so fun, with the demon and I think that guest cast has such a good time with the sort of whodunit of it all. Everybody’s so funny and I think that episode I feel close to because there was a scene in there between Jenn and Addison that really had some emotional intimacy there that I think we hadn’t seen before so I feel proud of that one. That one’s probably one of my favorites.
Neil Bui: Thank you so much for your time today, Nanrisa. I’m looking forward to the rest of this season.
Nanrisa Lee: Thanks Neil!
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