NAMBUCCA’S Chai Hansen has been busy filming a new television series called The Legend of Monkey.
The remake of Monkey Magic produced by Craig Irvin and Gerard Johnstone is set to appear on ABC, TVNZ and Netflix in 2018. Chai stars as Monkey in the original adaptation of a 16th century Chinese novel.
Monkey is joined by a wise monk, a pig monster and a fallen water god on an adventure involving many action-packed fight scenes. Chai completed extensive physical and martial arts training to prepare for the highly demanding role.
A story by news.com.au on April 22 incorrectly claimed there were no Chinese actors in The Legend of Monkey. Others controversially touted the casting a missed opportunity for multiculturalism.
As Chai's mother Sam Hansen points out, our local superstar is in fact part Chinese, with his grandparents being half-Chinese. Before moving to Australia to be educated, he also spent the first seven years of his life in a Thai Buddhist community.
"He's a representative of modern Asia and the modern world," Ms Hansen said.
"These people are trying to keep the divide.”
Ms Hansen believes the cast are ideal choices to present the show's Buddhist message about living harmoniously through adversity.
"I find it a perfect mix of multiculturalism, the actors span from Europe, Australia, Asia and New Zealand."
After high school, Chai received a scholarship to Davidia Lind Dance Centre in 2007 and that's when he discovered his passion for acting.
He got his big break when he was cast in Mako Mermaid.
"He learned a lot," Ms Hansen said.
Ms Hansen recently returned from the Monkey set in New Zealand.
While on location she was prohibited to have a phone or camera.
"They work hard," she said.
"They get picked up at 4am and spend an hour in make-up, then return home after a long day filming and have lines to learn."
Ms Hansen says proud isn't an adequate superlative for the way she feels about her son.
"I am amazed he has these incredible roles," she said.
"Having said that, he has worked hard and I've always believed in him.”
Chai has signed on for five seasons playing Monkey, but is also heading to LA soon to audition for some exciting upcoming roles.