Hanelle Culpepper has signed on to direct and co-executive produce the “Kung Fu” reboot pilot at The CW, Variety has learned exclusively.
This marks the latest high-profile directing credit for Culpepper, who made headlines when it was announced she would direct the first three episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” at CBS All Access, marking the first time a female director launched a new “Star Trek” series in the franchise’s 53-year history. She previously directed multiple episodes of fellow All Access how “Star Trek: Discovery.”
Her other directing credits include shows like “Mayans MC,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Gotham,” “Empire,” “American Crime,” and “NOS4A2.” It was also recently announced that she will direct the feature “1000 Miles,” Big Beach’s adaptation of the memoir “Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom” by William and Ellen Craft. She was also recently selected as one of eight ReFrame Rise directors. She and seven others will be mentored by a panel of industry veterans as they participate in a two-year sponsorship program for experienced female directors poised to helm high level features, TV pilots, and their own shows.
“I am very excited to join the fantastic team of Christina Kim, Martin Gero, Berlanti, and Warner Bros. to bring ‘Kung Fu’ to a new generation,” Culpepper said. “An authentic and honest portrayal of a Chinese American family is rare in mainstream media so I am honored to be able to introduce the Shen family and shoot some thrilling action sequences as well. I think many people, myself included, can relate to our heroine’s journey of self-discovery and finding her purpose.”
Culpepper is repped by Verve and Metamorphic Entertainment.
The CW’s “Kung Fu” is a reboot of the original series created by Ed Spielman. In the new version, a quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese-American woman, Nicky Chen (Olivia Liang), to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, Nicky uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice — all while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her.
Along with Liang, the cast also includes Tzi Ma and Kheng Hua Tan. Christina M. Kim will write and executive produce. Martin Gero will executive produce via Quinn’s House along with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter of Berlanti Productions, with Culpepper co-executive producing. Warner Bros. Television will produce. Kim, Gero, and Berlanti Productions are all currently under overall deals at WBTV.