SkyMed is leading the way with Asian characters in lead roles

SkyMed is leading the way with Asians in lead roles on prime time television. Alicia Cheung shares interviews with cast members as part of our Watchlist.

Watchlist: SkyMed leads the way with Asians in lead roles on prime time television

SkyMed is a CBC’s new drama series following the intense personal lives of young nurses and pilots flying air ambulances in Northern Manitoba, Canada. The show weaves the compelling stories of young First Responders, where viewers will follow the trials, triumphs, and heartbreaks of a high-stakes job in the unforgiving North. 

This isn’t your standard first responder series though – it refreshingly features Asian characters in lead roles. 

The SkyMed cast includes emerging Canadian talent, including Asian Canadians Praneet Akilla (Nancy Drew), Rebecca Kwan (Taken), and Morgan Holmstrom (Siberia).

Check out our exclusive video interviews with Akilla and Kwan for Cold Tea Collective’s “Watchlist” series, highlighting their acting journeys, inspirations, and what SkyMed means to them.

Praneet Akilla as Jay Chopra aka “Chopper

Indian Canadian actor Praneet Akilla plays Jay Chopra (aka “Chopper”) on SkyMed.

In the drama, Chopper is a First Officer pilot with North Air. A former engineer turned pilot, Chopper is a little bit of a geek and a tad socially inept. He is big-hearted and generous to a fault, always putting the needs of others around him first. However, his experiences in Thompson, Manitoba force him to confront his past and learn to put himself first.

When describing what makes SkyMed so special to Akilla, he shares how this one-of-a-kind medical drama takes place in an incredibly remote part of Canada that most people around the world never get to see.

“It takes place in several Indigenous communities, was shot on Indigenous lands as settlers, and so a lot of this show took place in helping out these communities.”

Akilla describes his acting career in these three words: volatile, eventful, and inspired.

See also: Blueprints to diversity on TV with Praneet Akilla

Rebecca Kwan as “Emma Lin”

Rebecca Kwan is a Chinese Canadian actress who plays Emma Lin on SkyMed.

In the drama, Emma is extremely loving and bubbly, working in a remote Nursing Station in Northern Manitoba. She’s extremely passionate about her work, and is currently spending time in the North to pay for her upcoming wedding. However, we’ll soon see that Emma will be forced to ask herself who she is, and who wants to be with.

“The best part about working on SkyMed was the cast. I had the best time waking up every single morning seeing the same people every single day and just having the funnest time.”

Kwan’s greatest inspirations are her grandmother, Sandra Oh, and Margot Robbie.

See also: Chinese Canadian actress Kelly Yu on pandemic filming and falling moons

Morgan Holstrom as “Crystal Highway”

Morgan Holmstrom is an actor of Red River Métis and Filipina descent — she is a proud member of the Manitoba Métis Federation and is of Cree and Ojibwe descent on her paternal side. Holmstrom plays Nurse Crystal Highway on SkyMed. We love how Holstrom’s casting represents the diversity of people and cultures in Canada.

In the drama, Crystal works full-time as a flight nurse while studying to be a nurse practitioner. She is whip-smart, driven, and the “mama bear” of her patients and coworkers. Growing up in North House, Crystal speaks her mind and is extremely caring for her community.

SkyMed premieres in Canada beginning Sunday, July 10 at 9:00pm on CBC TV and will also be available to stream for free on CBC Gem.

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