The classic ‘90s sci-fi series Quantum Leap is back and better than ever with an all-new reboot on NBC. The diverse and incredibly talented cast has brought new life to the beloved series. Writer, director, and actress Shakina Nayfack joins GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos to talk about her upcoming episode of the show.
Shakina talks about how exciting it was to write, direct, and act in an episode of Quantum Leap on a network as mainstream as NBC. “I’m telling my story; I’m telling the story of my community.”
Each episode of Quantum Leap follows Dr. Ben Song as he travels back in time to another person’s life. Each episode he is tasked with helping someone from the time period with an issue they are experiencing. “In this particular episode, he leaps into the parent of a trans kid who also happens to be on the basketball team, the girls’ basketball team,” Shakina sets the scene. The episode titled “Let Them Play,” is a “hopeful, inspirational episode about letting kids be kids.”
Shakina is honored to be a part of getting meaningful stories of trans kids on screen, for the whole world to see. “It can open you up to things going on around you and encourage you to take action to help make the world a better place,” they hope. “I think when people understand what trans kids that they are going through, they might have a little more compassion and empathy for not only trans kids but also their parents and families and teachers and doctors and they might have the courage to hop on the phone or send an email to a congress person or a state legislator and demand that trans kids get protection, not discrimination.”
“This is a really radical opportunity, but at the same time it continues the legacy of Quantum Leap.” Shakina talks about how Quantum Leap has a long history of using the platform to stand up for what’s right. In the original series, a powerful “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” episode was aired. “This has always been something that this particular show cares about, which is bringing people who are often on the margins into the center. So, we learned to see them as beautiful humans.”
With Donald Trump officially planning to run for reelection, a lot of marginalized communities, including trans folk may be fearful for what that could mean for them. “Well, here’s the thing. Donald Trump is a boogeyman and the Republican party has made trans kids a boogeyman,” Shakina explains. “If more people know that trans kids are kids and deserve the right to be kids and play… then I hope that we can sort of get out of this, us and them us versus them mindset and start thinking about our children and that might change the way we relate to the issue.”
Shakina is so excited for audiences to meet Josie Lynn, the trans actress starring in the episode. “Every opportunity I get, I’m always trying to figure out how to bring the community with me,” she explains.
Quantum Leap airs Mondays at 10pm on NBC.