Who Is Peyton Elizabeth Lee? 'Doogie Kamealoha M.D.' Star's Connection to 'Doogie Howser'

Doogie Kamealoha M.D. has just launched on Disney+, and breathes new life into the 1990s show Doogie Howser. The original followed a teenage doctor as he juggled work and the difficulties of growing up, and the rebooted version is exactly the same.

The difference is in its main character, Lahela Kamealoha, a biracial girl living in Hawaii with a loving family and all the confusion our teenage years can bring.

For the lead actress, Peyton Elizabeth Lee, her connection to the original was not through her own understanding of the show, but through the eyes of those enjoying it when it first came out.

Speaking to Newsweek, she said: "I was not personally familiar with the show prior to getting the audition as the show was on a while before I was born.

"But I remember when I got the audition, my parents were very excited about that. They loved the show and so I immediately had to go and start watching it.

"I think it was definitely very important to me to sort of keep the spirit of the original show alive and also bring it into the worlds we live in today and sort of put my own stamp on it.

"But it was definitely cool to be able to experience the original, as we were sort of shooting, are reimagining and sort of see those Easter eggs and the homage that Courtney paid to the original show in our version of it."

In the first episode of the show, it turns out Doogie Howser exists in this world, as Lahela earns the nickname due to her youth in the medical world.

Nevertheless, she is out to prove herself, which Lee could relate to as well as a young, biracial actor in Hollywood.

In sentiments echoed by her showrunner, Kourtney Kang, representing biracial people is important, as it helps the conversation on representation on TV.

She said: "It has always been very important for me, as a mixed girl, to represent strong biracial characters. I think, growing up, like Courtney was saying, there weren't a lot of characters that looked like us. And the characters that did look like us were never the lead, they were never the center of the story.

"They were never the main protagonist, they were a sidekick, or a side character. And I think, you know, growing up seeing anyone that looked like me being a side character definitely changes how you feel about yourself and your potential.

"And so, this character was very important for me, because it does say, 'Hey, you don't have to look like everyone on TV, to be the main character of your own story, to be the romantic lead to be the center of your world,' you know.

"And I personally know, the sort of empowerment that grows from seeing people that look like you doing the things that you want to be able to do."

Part of this was aided by Lahela's family being loosely based on that of Kang, who grew up in Hawaii in a mixed family with two brothers.

As a result, there was an added desire to show an "authentic" family dynamic, which meant focusing on more than just her time as a teenage doctor.

She added: "This process was to portray the most authentic version of the story we could, you know, whether that means her being a teenage doctor, or her being a middle child, or her being, you know, a biracial girl growing up in Hawaii, all those different elements to the story.

"It was very important for me to really be as sensitive as I could to the story, through talking to Kourtney and learning about her experience, and her learning about mine. Us sort of developing Lahela's experience from the roots of her life and my life was a very special experience and journey."

Doogie Kamealoha M.D. streams on Disney+ weekly every Wednesday

Doogie Kamealoha M.D.
Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Lahela in "Doogie Kamealoha M.D." Disney