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    Liza Lapira Previews a Personal Episode of ‘The Equalizer’ — Watch a Sneak Peek (VIDEO)

    The March 6 episode of The Equalizer is not only timely — it deals with Asian American hate crimes in the U.S. — but series regular Liza Lapira also worked with the writer, Zoe Robyn, and shared her and her family’s stories for the script.

    Before the episode was written, Lapira was approached to see if she’d speak with the writers and then spoke with Robyn, who did her own research as well. “Zoe listened to a lot. She was extremely open and collaborative. I shared many personal stories and sent articles of hate crimes,” Lapira says. “I told her about someone I looked up to as a kid named Fred Ho. He was a musician, artist, and activist who was passionate about social justice and equality. As fierce a warrior as he was, he was also an extremely kind and caring spirit. A lot of that influenced the Ray character.”

    Liza Lapira as Melody Mel Bayani in The Equalizer

    Michael Greenberg/CBS

    In “Chinatown,” Mel (Lapira) and Robyn McCall (Queen Latifah) work with a jaded ex-cop to find the killers of a beloved Chinese-American restaurant owner, the victim of a hate crime. However, as TV Insider’s exclusive sneak peek reveals, it was made to look like an accidental electrical fire led to the second location of the owner’s — and community’s — beloved Eight Treasure Bakery going up in flames. Watch the clip above to find out more about what happened.

    During filming, “they kept the dialogue open,” Lapira continues. “I was empowered to speak up knowing that I would be heard. There were things I asked for that fit this episode and things that didn’t fit this time. It wasn’t about being right, it was about getting it right — for both me and Zoe. That’s how we cultivated trust. And in trying to tell these stories, a mutual trust is essential.”

    For Robyn’s research, she read about the recent surge of violence against Asian Americans. “The sheer number of hateful, senseless attacks since 2020 is staggering. And then you get into the reasons why most victims don’t report what happened to them, and the challenge of prosecuting these incidents as hate crimes … and you see how the path to justice for many victims is simply non-existent,” she says.

    Before working on the script, Robyn then spoke with Lapira. “One conversation turned into many because of her generosity and willingness to talk about her own experiences,” the writer shares. “Liza’s personal stories she told to me are represented in my script in various ways. Liza and I continued talking throughout the writing of the episode, and we were tweaking dialogue up until the moment we shot it.”

    The Equalizer, Sundays, 8/7c, CBS

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