Erin and I are taking September off from doing interviews for visualizAsian.com, our series of live conversations with leading Asian American Pacific Islanders. But we're kicking off October with a star: Tamlyn Tomita, whose inspirational career as an actor spans movies, television and the stage, and whose leadership and activism spans the Japanese American and Asian American Pacific Islander communities.
Our conversation with Tamlyn Tomitawill be on Tuesday, October 6 at 6 pm Pacific Time (7 pm MT, 8 pm CT and 9 pm ET) is archived as an MP3 and is available for download for a limited time.
When we thought of starting visualizAsian.com, Tamlyn was the first person we thought of to interview, because of her prominence and passion, and because we'd met her on the set of "Only the Brave," Lane Nishikawa's powerful movie about the Japanese American soldiers of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team.
She was funny, approachable, salty and very real. I have a very vivid memory of her during the filming, taking a break between scenes by sitting in her pickup truck (this was a low-budget production -- no trailers for the stars). She was yelling and screaming and so animated we thought something was wrong. It turned out she's a huge LA Lakers fan, and was listening to the playoff game in progress.
Last year, we saw her again at the Democratic National Convention, when I was one of the emcees at an APIA Vote Gala along with Tomita and Joie Chen, formerly of CNN. She's a passionate, exciting and entertaining public speaker, and I've since seen her on video (just search YouTube) giving lots of speeches and serving as an emcee on many Japanese American and Asian American community events.
Here are DNC-related "tweets" from my Twitter feed, which shows up in my Facebook updates and also in a widget on my blog pages. Some videos, too: Above, emcee Tamlyn Tomita ("Joy Luck Club," "Come See the Paradise," "Picture Bride," Karate Kid II") introduces Mee Moua, the historic first-ever Hmong American lawmaker, a state senator from Minnesota, during the APIAVote Gala at the Marriott City Center.
The week began before the convention itself, with a Saturday night Media Kickoff Party that was the city's show of excess to 15,000 journalists from around the world. I bet there were over 5,000 jrounalists, maybe 10,000, who attended the evening at Elitch Gardens amusement park. The admission was free, the rides were free, there was free food and drink everywhere, and even the arcade games were free, and the staff handed out stuffed animal prizes to anyone who played anything.
The next day, Sunday, was an Asian American Summit organized by a Denver committee, which featured speakers including Congressman Mike Honda. The session was a first step towards organizing Colorado's AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander, which I'll try to use as my standard acronym when I'm not spelling out Asian American) community to participate in the political process. Monday night, the first night pof the convention, was the APIAVote Gala.
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