“Karate Kid” star Tamlyn Tomita, born to a Japanese American father and an Okinawan Filipino mother, has been acknowledged as among the figures advancing authentic on-screen representation in Hollywood.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times published on Friday, Jan. 1, Tomita revealed she is fighting for representation of Filipino nurses in US dramas.
Particularly, Tomita said she “fought” for a Filipino nurse character to be a regular in the US medical drama The Good Doctor, where she is part of the main cast.
“Another thing that I continue to fight for especially during this pandemic time is the representation of Filipino nurses on medical dramas throughout the decades of American television,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
“I fought for a Filipino nurse regular on (The Good Doctor) in the writers room for all three years,” Tomita added.
“It’s something that I’m always very cognizant of. Where are the Filipino nurses? Whether they’re Filipino born or American born, that’s what’s been missing in a lot of the storytelling of American television.”
Tomita reprised her role as Kumiko from The Karate Kid II for the third season of the hit Netflix show “Cobra Kai,” which was released on Jan. 1.
She accepted the offer to play Kumiko again as long as she is able to “inject a truer picture of Okinawa” on the show.
The actress, who will also be part of Star Trek: Picard, said she is proud of her Filipino heritage.
But she would rather “defer to my other Filipino American female artists and storytellers” in terms of representing that part of her heritage “because they’re closer to the true Filipino experience.”
“I’m always seeking out Filipino stories. I’m there to be the cheerleader, to be the amplifier, to be the spotlight focus person to say, these stories exist,” Tomita said.
In a 2014 interview, Tomita said her half-Okinawan mother was born in Manila.
“It’s simple: I wouldn’t be anybody without the people out there, the people who embrace me and claim me as one of their own. I have to give back,” she said. “I wouldn’t where I am without you guys.”