Kung Fu, now airing on the CW, reimagines the beloved ‘70s series that starred David Carradine, in a way we can absolutely get behind. This time, law school dropout Nicky (Olivia Liang) journeys to a monastery in China and returns home to San Francisco to find it riddled with corruption and crime. Gavin Stenhouse plays assistant DA Evan Hartley, who’s Nicky’s ex-boyfriend. And while a TV show isn’t a way to solve, or address, systemic racism, it does help. A little.
“It’s a very apt time for our show to be coming out. It seems like almost every day there’s another reported case of a hate crime. I can only imagine how difficult it is for my coworkers,” says Stenhouse. “It’s heartbreaking what’s happening. I don’t know what the answer is to address this situation. Representation is a small step in the right direction. It helps to mitigate this sense of otherness.”
Plus, the show is just hella fun to watch. “There’s lots of action. Lots of magic. My character got into the DA’s office because he has a very strong moral compass. He wants to do good and change the system. I’m nerdily excited about the legal issues. But there’s also a lot of kick-ass martial arts,” says Stenhouse.
When he got the role, in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns, Stenhouse packed up his family (he’s married with two daughters, 2 and 4) and drove to Vancouver. Because a road trip amidst a pandemic sounded … dreamy? Inspiring? Like a hell of a bad idea? He’s still not sure.
“We packed up our Subaru Forrester and we drove the 1,500 miles to Vancouver from L.A. We wanted to camp on the way there to avoid coming into contact with anyone but all the heinous wildfires happened on the west coast. There was smoke everywhere. We did the drive in two days. My daughters stayed awake for 22 hours. I think they got maybe a total of two hours of sleep,” he says. “Now I’m trying to think back on all these moments. I don’t know what the passage of time is — this year is a blur.”
His goal as a dad is simple: “If I can bring up two strong activist women, that’s my job as a parent.”
To that end, Stenhouse, in a move his character would applaud, owns his mistakes and admits when he’s out of line.
“As someone who was brought up in a regimented household, my experiences don’t apply to my kids. The most interesting lesson I’ve learned is allowing myself the opportunity to apologize to my kids if I’ve been out of line,” he says. “If I’ve had a rubbish day and one of my daughters refuses to do something and I just snap — I have an irrational reaction. I’m learning to take a breath and say, ‘I’m sorry, I should not have yelled.’ Especially raising daughters, I hope that helps them feel empowered and strong and not belittled.”