Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman knew he had something special when he was cast as Dr. Charles Zeller, a close colleague of the teenaged doctor Lahela “Doogie” Kameāloha, on the Disney+ series Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.
Bowyer-Chapman tells ABC Audio that while “much of the original essence” of ABC’s medical drama Doogie Howser, M.D. “still exists” within the new series, Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. “is very much a breath of fresh air.”
“In the sense that the stories that were so often…told — [where] the protagonists and the heroes that are often… clothed in white skin — that isn’t necessarily the case in the show,” he explains. “We get to show the strength and power and genius and brilliance and perseverance of everyone else. Everyone who’s existed in the margins for so long.”
That representation, Bowyer-Chapman says, is not only necessary, it’s long overdue.
“As revolutionary as the original series may have been in the late 80s and early 90s, where we are in 2021, it really is about showcasing the stories and lived experiences of marginalized folk,” he says. “And people who don’t necessarily have the spotlight put on us for, for the most part, in mainstream television and films.”
Thankfully, Disney+ gets it right with Doogie Kameāloha, M.D., Bowyer-Chapman says, adding that the series is truly setting the bar for diversity and representation.
“The cast is built of majority people of color, majority Hawaiian natives, tons of AAPI representation,” he says. “I mean, myself, as a Black biracial queer person, as a series regular on the show, it’s something that is not often seen, especially in Disney entities.”
Doogie Kameāloha, M.D, also starring Peyton Elizabeth Lee, is now available to stream on Disney+.
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