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Mason Alexander Park on Telling Trans Stories in ‘Quantum Leap’

Ian (Mason Alexander Park) sits against a wall, looking down.

For Mason Alexander Park, Gia’s story in the Quantum Leap episode “Let Them Play” hit close to home.

In “Let Them Play,” Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) finds himself in the body of a high school girls’ basketball coach. The coach’s daughter Gia (Josielyn Aguilera), who is trans, is attacked by transphobic parents after she scores the winning shot at a game, and Ben has to change her timeline to prevent her from running away and disappearing forever. With public discourse becoming increasingly transphobic and violent, “Let Them Play” couldn’t have aired at a better time.

I spoke to Park, who plays nonbinary character Ian Wright on the series, about the episode at WonderCon 2023 in Anaheim, California. “It was a really special episode because it’s a very out there, kind of iconic moment for network television to focus on an issue that is currently in the mainstream,” Park says. “At the time the original Quantum Leap was airing, a lot of the issues that they talked about were things that we’re still dealing with in the present. But it wasn’t quite like, we’re just leaping back to 2012 and talking about trans issues that really haven’t progressed since. If anything, they’ve gotten worse. So it was really amazing to be a part of a groundbreaking piece of television that I would’ve loved to have seen when I was growing up, because that representation really didn’t exist for me, especially not in a network television context.”

“Let Them Play” was written and directed by Shakina, who also plays Gia’s mentor and confidant in the episode (you can check out our interview with Shakina herself here). “I’m glad NBC included that storyline and that Shakina got a chance to direct it and be in it and write it,” Park says. “It was just a really amazing thing to be a part of.”

There’s one scene in the episodes that’s especially poignant, when Ian opens up about their own struggles with bigotry—and reveals a heartbreaking event from their past. “That scene in particular hit very close to home,” Park says. “I think for me, and for most trans people I know, [Gia’s story] is, unfortunately, a very average story. I didn’t even have to talk to Shakina about my life experiences for her to be able to write something that pretty much mirrored them.”

The fact that “Let Them Play” aired on network television was especially significant for Park. “I learned so much about morality and about life and about individuality through my experience of network television when I was a kid, and through the shows that I watched,” they said. “So the things that they chose to highlight really did matter to me, and it mattered to the people around me.”

Of course, exploring life experiences has always been integral to Quantum Leap, as Scott Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett—and now Raymond Lee’s Dr. Ben Song—step into the lives of individuals across time and space. Producer Deborah Pratt, whom we also spoke to at WonderCon, says that the show is fundamentally about walking in someone else’s shoes. “What does that feel like? I think thats something we all need to do more of. We need to understand what people are going through and why they’re feeling what they’re feeling.”

If you’re in crisis, or you just need someone to talk to, you can call Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860 (US) or (877) 330-6366 (Canada).

(featured image: NBC)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at