Go Away With … Tamlyn Tomita


By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
October 18, 2016

Actress Tamlyn Tomita (“Joy Luck Club,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “The Karate Kid 2”) is loving her latest series, the Epix espionage drama, “Berlin Station.” One of the perks of working in Berlin is getting to sightsee on her days off.

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a TV station in Japan raised funds to send over cherry blossom trees to Berlin,” says Tomita, who’s based out of Los Angeles. “I was lucky enough to witness the first pink-and-white blossoms in Berlin and to see so many Berliners underneath the beauty of these flowers. It made me proud to view this sight as an American whose father’s parents were from Japan, a former axis country, extending a grand gesture of peace toward another former axis country and showing the world how true progress and partnership can be nurtured and sustained.”

New to social media, Tomita has recently started interacting with fans on Facebook and Twitter.

Q. You’ve said that Berlin has had a profound impact on your life. What are some of the things you’ve learned during your early visits and now working on “Berlin Station” in Germany?

A. I had the privilege of visiting Berlin in November 1990, one year after the fall of the wall. The people who I got to hear stories from were struggling mightily with the influx of East Germans, who coming from less than, were exposed to a free country, free ideas and ideals and a free market. West Berliners welcomed their East Berlin brothers and sisters from across the wall and then realized that acceptance and change can be hard and that tolerance, patience and education can be trying. The public and visible art, museums, street markers in and around Berlin that recognized the cost of war, anti-Semitism, the mass round-ups of others and death camps were steadfast reminders that we have to learn and teach the history of our world. Otherwise, we will keep repeating the same mistakes.

Q. Did you notice any similarities to the current political climate?

A. I found that the same kinds of attitudes were in the air during the near six months of living and working in Berlin with the current refugee crisis and the policy of open-arms migrant policy headed up by Angela Merkel. It proved to me that as a country, Germany has come up from the ashes of its difficult history and learned to do what is simply and humanely right in the hearts of people – to take care of thy neighbor and to serve those in need. The fall of the wall of Berlin and the lessons of learning to live together for 30 years as a united city, in my eyes, provided the world a template as to how to unite separate entities, cities, communities, families and people. Berliners continue to prove that change and progress is hard, but it is worth it. They continue to learn and live with the idea that they are stronger together.

Q. How much of of this made it into the series?

A. “Berlin Station” landed in Berlin on November 9, 2015, and the Paris attacks happened soon after. The shock and horror of that event and the subsequent attacks on Brussels and Istanbul, the ongoing war in Syria, the crises of refugees escaping to Greece and other Mediterranean havens all had cast shadows about the work we were doing on our show. Although we could not inject those real-time stories in our show, the writers did the best they could in honoring our thoughts and discussions of wanting to better reflect the world in our fictional one. Our cast members visited refugee centers in Berlin along with members of our beloved production team. The experiences proved to me, once again, that our world is really small and to live in the vast expanse of America, we really have to be reminded of that fact again and again and that we really need to look at the faces of one another and see that we are better, we can do better, we have to do better. Love trumps hate and Berlin, with its feet rooted in its history and eyes towards a better future, showed me that it can lead by its valiant example.

Q. Are there times when you are tempted to take jobs because of where they’ll be filmed?

A. Work has been very good to me and has taken me to New York City for plays; Hawaii subbing in for Okinawa for “The Karate Kid 2”; Montreal for “The Day After Tomorrow” and pretty much around the world for publicity for these projects.

Q. How adept are you at learning foreign languages?

A. I picked up some German while working on “Berlin Station.” When in Rome, do as the Romans do! But, I promptly forgot most of it. I can pick up languages related to English well enough and my Japanese needs to be sharpened.

Q. What kind of travel tips do you give to friends?

A. I always tell people about the best things to eat and restaurants to visit. They could be little holes in the wall and not just fancy schmancy, but those are good too!

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. Travel your own country like a tourist. It’ll give you a new set of eyes.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. Japan, when I was 12. Never did I feel more American.

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. I learned that as big as the world is, it is really small and we share the same desires — love, peace and family. I believe everyone should travel, whether it be across the country, around the world, across the state or around town. It’s an important part of educating oneself. One learns about other lives, other ways and ourselves while taking vacations, both good and bad. Own all those memories. They form you.

Q. If you’ve ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?

A. I’ve been ordered by my mama to always be home for Christmas.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. I have become a Berliner, so Berlin! Also, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Kyoto and Venice.

Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?

A. Vancouver. It’s like L.A., only prettier!

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. We’d love to explore Patagonia and the Galapagos. And I’ve got to learn scuba diving. There are worlds down there!

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I have two necessities while traveling: sunscreen, eyelash curler.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. I always research one dress-up dinner to go to during a trip.

Q. When you’re on a trip, do you prefer to be active each day or are you a lay-on-the-beach kind of woman?

A. On vacation or if I’m lucky enough to be working while away, I try to explore and see what living like a local would be, especially if it’s work-related. I majored in history, so research and living history is a thing.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Favorite vacation destination? Is there really such a thing?

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. A weekend is not long enough, so I don’t bother…

Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?
A. For “Berlin Station,” I felt the responsibility to become a Berliner as much as possible and I hope it is reflected in the work.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. Homey Italian restaurants.

Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. Use your imagination and open you heart. You don’t have to necessarily open your wallet to experience romance.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. The Plaza Athenee in Paris!

Q. What would be your dream trip?
A. Let’s throw a dart at a map and go!

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?
A. Vintage clothes shopping.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM

Comments (1)

  1. Tamlyn Tomita says:

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