‘Kung Fu’: CW Reboot Adds Vanessa Yao, Annie Q. & JB Tadena To Season 2 Cast
Editor’s Note: The first version of this story misspelled Vanessa Yao’s last name as “Rao.”
EXCLUSIVE: The CW is expanding the cast for Season 2 of Kung Fu, its reboot of the classic series, adding Vanessa Yao, Annie Q. and JB Tadena in heavily recurring roles.
Following the explosive Season 1 finale, Season 2 picks up with Nicky (Olivia Liang) and the Shens in a great place: Nicky’s been using her kung fu skills to keep Chinatown safe, she and Henry (Eddie Liu) are only deeper in love with each other, and unlike season one, the Shen family are all in the know about Nicky’s extracurricular activities. Jin and Mei-Li have righted the ship and Harmony Dumplings has seen an extraordinary recovery– the restaurant is doing better business than ever. Everything’s been great in Nicky’s life… that is, until the reemergence of Russell Tan, and the surprise appearance of Nicky’s cousin, Mia (Yao).
In addition to Liang and Liu, the series regular cast includes Tzi Ma, Kheng Hua Tan, Jon Prasida, Shannon Dang, Gavin Stenhouse, Vanessa Kai, Tony Chung and Yvonne Chapman.
Yao’s Mia, Nicky’s enigmatic cousin, is the daughter of Nicky’s deceased aunt Mei-Xue. Raised in extreme isolation with her mother, Mia ran away from home and has been living on her own for years. Mia will cross dramatically with Nicky in the season premiere, but it’s no warm and fuzzy family reunion: Mia is a natural powerhouse, armed with incredible strength and reflexes… and a deeply ingrained suspiciousness of other people. The daughter of a Guardian and a Warrior, her hybrid bloodline is a key piece of Russell Tan’s villainous plan. Mia could be a valuable ally to Nicky in her fight against Russell Tan… or a dangerous new adversary.
Annie Q. is Juliette Tan, the clever and conniving daughter of powerful business mogul, Russell Tan. Cultured, precocious, and already well-seasoned in the world of business, Juliette offers Russell her steadfast support, eager to prove she’s ready to succeed him at the helm of the Tan empire. But as her father’s plans get darker and more supernatural, Juliette will have to decide just how far she’s willing to go to seize the brass ring and ascend to her father’s throne.
Tadena plays Sebastian, Harmony Dumplings’ talented and charming new chef, who steps into the lurch as the restaurant’s newfound success threatens to swallow up Jin and Mei-Li. Charming, cocky, and eager to show the Shens what he’s got, Sebastian will immediately turn the newly single Ryan’s head… but, much to Ryan’s frustration, it’s unclear if the attraction is mutual. Is he Just Not That Into Ryan? Or is he merely avoiding a potentially complicated hookup with his bosses’ son? While the will-they-won’t-they suspense kills Ryan– and fuels the teasing of his watchful siblings– Sebastian will find himself a bigger and bigger part of the Shens’ lives, as his working relationship with Mei-Li blooms into an unexpected new friendship.
Christina M. Kim wrote the pilot episode and serves as executive producer/co-showrunner with Robert Berens. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Martin Gero and David Madden also serve as executive producers. Hanelle Culpepper directed and co-executive produced the pilot episode. Kung Fu is produced by Berlanti Productions and Quinn’s House in association with Warner Bros. Television and is inspired by the original series created by Ed Spielman.
Yao has led four films for China Central Television, including Soul Breaker and Blackfox Ridge, and also led the films Back To Youth, and Into the Darkness for Guangzhou WeiXiao Films. She also played the lead in Huaxia Films’ award winning feature Father and Hero, which premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival, and won the New Zealand’s Asia Pacific Film Festival Best New Actor Award for her role as Wei Wei. Yao is repped by Echelon Talent Management.
Annie Q. is best known for her portrayal of Christine in HBO’s The Leftovers and Sophie Hicks in the Netflix comedy-drama Alex Strangelove. She also starred as Erica Yang in the “School Spirit” episode of the Hulu/Blumhouse anthology series Into The Dark. She is repped by Authentic Talent & Literary Management and A3 Artists Agency.
Tadena was recently seen on Westworld, NCIS, SEAL Team and voiced a character on the popular Call of Duty: Vanguard video game franchise. On the film side, he has appeared in indie Pineapple. He also leads the popular new media series Naruto: Climbing Silver. Tadena is repped by Wonder Street Management.