Karate Kid’s Tamlyn Tomita fights for Filipino nurses representation on American TV

Tamlyn Tomita
Tamlyn Tomita reprises her Karate Kid Part II role in the new Cobra Kai Season 3 on Netflix. Screengrab from Netflix trailer.

Karate Kid’s Tamlyn Tomita has revealed she has been fighting for Filipino nurses’ representation in American television medical dramas, especially during the pandemic.

Tomita, who traces her roots to a Filipina mother and a Japanese American father, was born in Okinawa and raised in San Fernando Valley.

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The Filipino-Japanese American actress told Los Angeles Times in a January 1, 2021, interview about Cobra Kai Season 3 where she reprises her role as Kumiko, the love interest of Karate Kid Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) in the 1986 film “The Karate Kid Part II”, that she has been advocating representation on American television.

Tomita revealed that she fought with writers for a Filipino nurse regular on “The Good Doctor” and continued to advocate for such characters.

“… 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.

“I fought for a Filipino nurse regular on [“The Good Doctor”] in the writers’ room for all three years. But shooting in Canada, there’s not a lot of opportunity for persons of Filipino heritage. 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 adds, “It’s something that I’m very proud of. But I defer to my other Filipino American female artists and storytellers 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. And outside my own personal heritages there are so many stories out there that I’ve had the opportunity to tell. I’ve played Vietnamese, I’ve played Hmong, but I know there are actors out there of those ethnicities who could have played them more authentically and more truthfully,” Tomita said.

Tamlyn Tomita credits her UCLA professors Judy Chu and Bob Nakamura for her “awakening as a woman, as an Asian American, and as an Asian American woman and how to participate — how to speak out and speak up.”

Tamlyn Tomita also starred in Star Trek: Picard with Filipino-American actress Isa Briones.

Other American actors of Filipino descent who have been advocating for the representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood include Nico Santos (Superstore, Crazy Rich Asians) and Vincent Rodriguez III (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Karate Kid’s Tamlyn Tomita for fighting for Filipino nurses’ representation on American TV.

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Aurora Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.