"I wished that even these comments weren’t made because we’re an Asian-American cast”
In an Inverse interview, Wu Assassins star Li Jun Li responded to the show’s mixed reviews – including one that compared it to Panda Express.
Li, who plays MBA turned hustler Jenny Wah, said the series should not be compared to regular Asian martial arts shows.
On IMDb, the series received mixed review with one reviewer saying it reminded them of “eating Panda Express at Chipotle.”
“I wish people would not compare Wu Assassins to other Asian martial arts shows,” Li said. “There were comments that our show felt like Panda Express, and I wished that even these comments weren’t made because we’re an Asian-American cast.”
“I don’t even eat at Panda Express,” the Shanghai-born actress said.
Discussing her character, Li said that Jenny’s backstory has depth which affects other characters.
“[Jenny] finds herself battling her own burden of expectations from her parents when they leave the family restaurant for her to run, which has forced her to take her own dreams to the back-burner,” Li said. “It’s taken a toll on her relationships with the other characters in the show.”
For Li, Wu Assassins provided her the opportunity to strongly reflect and represent her ethnicity.
“It’s been tough because minorities are often used to fill roles that are not true to who we really are,” she says. “Most of the roles in my career have been, Best friend, open ethnicity. This the first role I feel I’m really right for. Someone that looks like me, that speaks like me.”
“From the surface we’re a martial arts show, but there’s so much more that I’ve seen a lot of tweets and comments [from] Asian-Americans [who] can relate. I think that’s what’s groundbreaking about this. It’s not just triad gangsters.”
“I really think the movement has been going in the right direction. I love that there’s a wave of attention, but I don’t want this to be a trend. With any trend, it will be over. I want it [to be] the norm,” she added.
In related news, Li’s Wu Assassins co-star Juju Chan recently discussed her role in the show.