Ra Chapman, fever pitch for Austral-asian comedy.

Korean-born Ra Chapman is a product of growing up in Mount Gambier, and she is armed with cross-cultural comedy on ABC.

When she was just 4 years old life for Korean-born Ra Chapman was altered forever.

Through Korean and Australian adoption agencies she would move to be raised in South Australia.

“Back then there was a lot of hardships so people would basically give up their children. A lot of them thought they would stay in Korea. But they’d give up their children, because they were either poor or single mothers,” she tells TV Tonight.

Growing up in in Mount Gambier, may have differed significantly from metropolis Seoul or Busan. Yet it instilled in Chapman a tenacity, humour and survival instinct.

“I don’t want to go, ‘It was really racist,’ because it wasn’t…. now we call it casual racism. It’s not people out to get you, it’s just ‘You’re different.’ It’s not interesting, but it’s more human.

“I feel like I was good at trying to fit in”

“In the ’80s and the ’90s assimilation was the key, not diversity. That’s what we were doing back then with everyone. So I just tried to be as ‘white’ as possible. I had lots of friends, because I feel like I was good at trying to fit in.”

Eventually the performing arts came calling.

“I loved dance when I was younger. I did callisthenics, I started writing at university and got into acting quite late after uni. I went to London for a bit, did theatre over there.”

There were also small guest roles on Knowing, SLiDE, City Homicide, Woodley, Neighbours, Wentworth and Offspring -but Chapman began to grow frustrated with the parts she was being offered. That led to her penning a play staged at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne.

From there she a project was funded by ABC’s pandemic support fund Fresh Start until Head of Comedy Todd Abbott invited her to develop her own series, White Fever.

Chapman also stars in and is an executive producer of the six part comedy. There are definitely similarities with her own life and that of party girl Jane who, as it happens, carries an insatiable lust for hairy white men. But her best friend Edi (Katie Robertson) accuses her of being “whiter than most white people.” Does her preference make her a ‘racist dater’ and can she embark on mission to date only Asian men?

“Even though the series is completely fictional, it’s based on a lot of things that I’ve experienced. I’ve just run away with it and made something entertaining. But one thing that is true to my story is that the character was also adopted at 4, and she’s got no memories.

“I see her as a little bit old school,” Chapman says of Jane.

“She was raised in the country, her parents are white they’re very working class and she’s got similar attitudes. So she goes through life with a ‘bulldozer’ attitude… ‘she’ll be right mate’, which a lot of my adoptee friends have.

“There’s a collision with diversity”

“I grew up in the country, a lot of my friends did. We grew up around white people and a certain attitude, which helps you get through life, but there’s a collision with diversity…

“She basically gets called out by her friends for only dating white men. So she starts trying to date Asian men and it’s harder than she initially thinks.

“It kind of unearths a lot of other issues in her life and with her family.”

The cast also includes Chris Pang, Greg Stone, Roz Hammond, Harvey Zielinski and Jillian Nguyen.

“Our cast is amazing. Chris Pang came back from Hollywood -no, he lives in Las Vegas- to be in our show. He’s just so gorgeous in it. We’ve got Katie Robertson playing my best friend. Jillian is amazing,” she continues.

“We did massive call outs to Hmong community, Korean community. I’ve tapped into my Korean adoption community. I’m a committee member of the organisation called Korean Adoptees in Australia Network. Even they’ve been helping put out feelers.

“Everyone has just stepped up”

“It’s a low budget ABC comedy, so you really have to pull out favours, so we have had to do a lot of community stuff, and everyone has just stepped up.”

According to Chapman, the series by Black Sheep Films, Orange Entertainment Co., and Unruly Productions is also unapologetic in its themes and sexual comedy style.

“I think we just didn’t want to play it safe in regards to the tone and style, but also the ambition of the topics we cover. So I kind of feel like we’ve bitten off a lot.”

White Fever screens 9pm Wednesday on ABC.

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