Interview: Mason Alexander Park on Roles, Representation, and Starring in 'QUANTUM LEAP'

"Representation is transformation"

By: Apr. 01, 2023
Interview: Mason Alexander Park on Roles, Representation, and Starring in 'QUANTUM LEAP'

If you've seen the new "Quantum Leap" on your television screen, don't worry, you haven't lept back to the past or into an alternate timeline. This NBC series is a modern continuation of the beloved classic, and now has new leapers and a whole team of people working on the project. Mason Alexander Park plays Ian Wright, the non-binary chief architect of the Quantum Leap artificial intelligence and they took time while at Wondercon in Anaheim last weekend to talk about playing this character, representation, and what the next dream career opportunity might be.

Mason Alexander Park, is currently starring as Ian Wright, the technical genius on the new "Quantum Leap" airing on NBC and streaming on Peacock, but is no stranger to stage or screen. After playing the titular role of the Broadway national tour of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, as well as I AM MY OWN WIFE at the Long Wharf Theatre, they can also be seen in "Cowboy Bebop" and "The Sandman" on Netflix.

The character of Ian Wright is in charge of "Ziggy" the Artificial Intelligence that provides crucial information for Ben (Raymond Lee) when he is leaping through the past. Mason says that this part was written as a very normalized non-binary character, which was thrilling for them to see.

"They came to me because they always wanted to find someone who was non-binary or gender non-conforming. When they approached me I was thrilled because I have watched a major shift just in the last five years of roles that are explicitly described that way, that were not there when I started in the industry 10 or 15 years ago.

I think that all the creatives and the writers have a really nice understanding of the humanity of trans individuals and they're very dedicated to trying to just like allow me to exist and breathe in a space that like normally we're not invited to take up space and so it's very cool."

Interview: Mason Alexander Park on Roles, Representation, and Starring in 'QUANTUM LEAP'
QUANTUM LEAP - "Quantum Leap at WonderCon - Pictured: (l-r) Nanrisa Lee, Ernie Hudson, Caitlin Bassett, Mason Alexander Park, Raymond Lee - (Photo by: E.H. Reiter)

Alexander is also a fan of the original show, an ad of the sci-fi genre in general, so the opportunity to work with this talented cast on a project like this was an opportunity they couldn't resist.

"I just love the genre. I feel like queer people simply love sci-fi because growing up so often represents the sort of, whether it's utopian or dystopian, but these ideas of individuality that often is not necessarily as explored in other genres.

I think that's why queer people kind of flock to horror and sci-fi. And so it's, you know, I was very lucky that my career has led me in this direction where I've got to do, you know, "Cowboy Bebop", and "The Sandman", and now "Quantum Leap.". I feel like these are the things I grew up loving and wanting to be a part of growing up, it's the best."

Being able to work with the show's incredible cast which includes Raymond Lee, Ernie Hudson, Caitlin Bassett, and Nanrisa Lee is both a pleasure and an opportunity to show more accurately reflect onscreen the diversity we see in the world.

"I think that the show is unbelievably diverse in a way that probably would not be true of the show if it was revived 10 or 15 years ago or so or 10 years ago. So, I'm very excited about us being able to continue to shape the world as we see it.

These are the people that I see at work not just because we're all hired to be together, but also because that's what the world kind of looks like everywhere else. So it's nice that it's an extended reflection of reality for a lot of people."

Audiences being able to see themselves reflected in media is important, but for Mason, they say that they don't choose projects for the representation, but for the strong storylines, characters, and being able to help shape the representation presented so that it feels well thought out and complex when it presents itself.

"As an actor, I'm never necessarily thinking about it unless the storyline is diving into topics that I feel haven't necessarily been fairly represented in media.

So when we did the trans episode "Let Them Play", obviously we were all thinking about, you know, what is it we need to do and, what tropes do we want to avoid?

It's amazing because like so many people send astoundingly positive messages and like parents and kids and just, you know, and people who feel very represented and feel very seen and that's unbelievably moving.

Representation is transformation and oftentimes we aren't given access to seeing ourselves in a marginalized identity because it's not deemed palatable or it's not deemed sellable in many ways.

And in reality, the human experience is universal. So if you can get past these ideas like gender or race or sexuality, to empathize with an individual you should be able to like engage in all kinds of media and not feel barred from it just because marginalized voices are invited to the team."

Starring in a hit tv show, and having starred in multiple live theatre shows, what is the next dream Mason is looking to cross off their bucket list?

"I've been very lucky that I've gotten across a lot of things off of my list in terms of theater dreams and television dreams and that sort of thing.

I've always wanted to do a rom-com because I just grew up, on that. So I think that that would be really, it'd be really fun to do like another series that isn't sci-fi or fantasy that is a comedy or a rom-com. "

You can watch "Quantum Leap" Mondays at 10/9c on NBC and stream it the next day on Peacock.

Photo Credit: NBC Universal


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