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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Actress Tamiko Brownlee Interview (C) 2015 Dan's Movie Report (Exclusive!)

Above Photo: (C) www.tonychu.com Tony Chu

Blasting into the new year, time for a fresh interview with Stunt Action Specialist Tamiko Brownlee. Tamiko is one of the most down to earth people in the business, ready to work hard, give 110 percent, and she thrives on extreme action! Tamiko has so many projects on her plate between 2014 and 2015, we decided to wait and blast out this 2500 word interview. Here it is fresh for 2015, right when her new material is ready to air! Sit back, relax, and check the textual ass whipping from the sultry and talented Tamiko, and watch for her all over your TV and theater screen in 2015, get ready for it! 3-2-1 GO!

Above Photo: Tamiko and I 2013 on American Ninja Warrior Set (C) 2013 Dan's Movie Report



Chat about some of your background, what sports did you participate in when younger?



Growing up, my father put all of the kids in martial arts – Taekwondo I know I wanted to take gymnastics down the street instead but in hindsight, I'm glad that I took martial arts. Actually, I wish I could have done both!



In middle school, I played softball and volleyball and ran track. I did a few years of gymnastics and drill team when I was in high school as well. I wanted to participate in wrestling instead of gymnastics but it wasn't allowed back then at my school (though now that's changed).



In college, I wanted to learn to be more graceful and I was humbled when I took my first hip hop class. After that first class, I was determined to be a dancer and I threw myself in every class I could find from hip hop, jazz, modern and ballet, so I understudied with a dance group in Seattle at the time called Street Level, and after a year or so I was allowed to be one of the group members....I was so honored! I ended up minoring in Dance at the University of Washington and toyed with the idea of maybe attending Cornish College of the Arts one Day.



A few years back, I spent some time in Cape Town, South Africa with my Dad's side of the family. While there, I wanted to keep in shape thus I ended up training in Muay Thai at Dragon Power. I realized how much I really loved martial arts and I decided then that I wanted to start training in it again.



When I moved to Los Angeles, I looked for people and places to train martial arts. I've been so grateful to all whom have taken the time to teach me and help me along on this journey. Some of my favorite place to train now are at Simon Rhee's and LA Wushu (but I'll always miss training with the Shaolin martial artists/monks) :-).



You have quite a diverse background quite a winding road to action. What made you decide ultimately to get into the stunt realm? Was there a person or people who helped you along the way?
Many moons ago, I was introduced to a very talented martial artist named Arnold Chon.  A good friend of mine, Tammie Baird, told me about him and said if I wanted to get a lot better with my technique and kicks then I needed to train with him.  He was actually the one who helped me figure out how to be a better performer because movie martial arts is very different from what I've trained in.  He helped me by having me attend an audition for The Last Airbender.  I was lucky enough to be chosen and was then tafted into the SAG union....thus my stunt career was born.  A lot of people along the way throughout the years have helped me out, been patient and guided me -- Glen Levy, Ron Yuan, Ming Qiu, Kerry Wong, Jeff Habberstad and Sam Hargrave are just some of the people I'll never forget.

Above Photo: (C) www.tonychu.com Tony Chu
 
I noticed you had many episodes of stunt work on 'Hawaii 5-0', maybe share a funny onset story. How much fun was it in Hawaii?

Yes! I was fortunate enough to work the first two season on the show. I met some awesome people working on that show too.  Actually, last month I was able to be brought back for fight doubling again. Nothing like being in Hawaii.  :-) I think most of our funny stories would be the ones made off set hanging out....like at Yardhouse and Sansei!  HAHAHA! Hawaii is amazing....great food, nice people and wonderful weather.  It's definitely paradise out there and very relaxing.

Yes is '5-0' is amazing, Bob Orci and the rest of the creators have excellent ideas. Shifting gears a bit, chat about stunts that involve several takes to get the perfect shot, and look for the camera, chat about an instance onset of any TV show or movie that the stunt was challenging to complete, describe the stunt...



Oh man, sometimes a lot more than needed for sure! Most of the time it comes down to timing of everything -- camera, cars, explosions, people, angles, lighting, sound...  I can't think of anything off hand really. The only thing that comes to mind is the fight scene I got to do against Esteban Cueto for The Originals.  We were vampires who were fighting for the daylight ring.  We had such a fun time working out the fight!  There was one part of the fight where I doing a punch at Esteban's head and he ducks under to then slam me down to the 'concrete'. That slam was a good ole flat back!  The only thing was that my wardrobe was that of a sport bra and pants....no place for pads there! He's a pretty tall guy so that was at least 5 plus feet up!!! I think we did that about 7 times...fun fun fun!  :D

 

That is also my favorite fight you did, wow 7 times, no pain no gain haha! Share a story from True Blood, must have been a blast working on that popular show.



Man, I've had a great opportunity to work on 'True Blood' a few times. The first time was to do a MMA style fight that was pretty cool and unfortunately got edited down to a much smaller fight (all the fun awesome parts were edited out too).  That was the first time I got to work with Mike Massa (who was the coordinator of the show at the time).  We had a blast and spend a lot of time on that fight.  I also got to come back and double the same actress for a different episode but a different fight and that was awesome.  

One story from that was that I had to throw a kick to the actress's face and she had to catch my foot with her hand.  I remember when we worked on the choreo, she went to catch my foot with her thumb sticking out and in my head I panicked (I saw my whole career going down in flames as I would have at least sprained or broken her thumb) but the split second decision to pull back on my kick saved me!  Whew!!!

Above Photo: (C) www.tonychu.com Tony Chu


Note to self, some actresses can be fragile, Tamiko, she is damn near indestructible! Do you have a favorite type of stunt you like to do, fighting, falling, etc..



One that doesn't end up causing injury! HA! (Ed Note: Ain't that the damn truth!)


Usually I feel most comfortable fighting and hitting the ground. I'm always trying to learn new ways to hit the ground making it look painful without it actually being too bad. I also like weapon work but I know I need more work with that as well since I don't train it as often as I should.  Wires are fun too depending on the actual stunt. I would also like to do more driving and sliding of cars, that is another thing I plan to do more training on as well:-)



What was the hardest stunt you had to do for a film or TV show, describe the set up and stunt.
I really haven't had the opportunity to do super hard stunts....yet.  Usually the choreography is tricky (fights) and it challenges me to get out of my comfort zone. One of my weaknesses is trying to do choreo that is not my style....it's frustrating and rewarding, but I get in my head too much and way over think a lot of things. I think the hardest thing for me to do is get out of my head most of the time and to stop being my biggest critic.

Who are some of the directors, actors, and actresses you would like to work with, but haven't yet?


There are many many people, shows and directors I would love to work for. One of them that comes to mind is of course Clint Eastwood....what a legend! There are many I wish I could have worked for whom have passed on too.


Yes Clint is a legend, shifting gears again, chat about the transition from stunts to acting, I saw you did a short film called 'Reverse Mugging', with a bit of humorous dialogue and action.


I have thought about making the transition more into action acting. I think with a little more training in acting that will be something I can do more often. Otherwise, I'm perfectly happy not being the 'face' :D I would never turn down a great opportunity to work as a stunt actor, and I have been working on my acting!


Well you have a head start with good facial expressions and clear speaking voice. Shifting back to stunts, chat about learning a variety of new stunts, what tricks have you learned in the past couple of years? Any stunts you want to try but haven't?


I've always wanted to be better at gymnastics skills. I worked hard at wanting to be able to pull off a back handspring and a back flip. I've done both and have it on video to remind myself that I have the ability to do so. One of the other skills I want to get back under my belt would be the butterfly twist I landed one a few years back, but haven't landed one since because my ankle was injured for a long while, it's about time to try it again!


Chat about your hobbies, what do you like to do in your downtime?
Hahaha... it's funny because my downtime is usually spent working out and training.  Lately, I have been getting into more running and doing events. I have about 10 races planned for 2015 and hoping I can do them all (or most) if I'm available to. Participating in the running events helps me get out of my head, and stop thinking so much, focus on the movement and action. Plus it a great way to keep in shape.


What are some of you future goals in Hollywood?

I have been thinking about it for awhile... I need to spend more time with the camera and working on my fights. Right now I would love to shadow different coordinators to see how it all comes together.  There is so much work and thought put into the action scenes, it's amazing to see it all connect. I would also get back to doing hosting as I used to host for a small company when I first moved to LA. I got to interview several times on red carpet premieres and also got to interview a few bands as well.

Above Pic: Tamiko behind the scenes in Transformers 4, as an action bride!


Yes you are a natural for hosting, and that is a slightly less dangerous job hahaha then being slammed to the ground by a big guy. Shifting the conversation, discuss working on  'Transformers 4'.
Working on 'T4' was a great experience really. I would joke about how we all "survived" working on 'T4' but it's true. You had to be so on point with your focus, and always pay attention. Michael Bay really knows what he is doing, and is brilliant. He knows so much and it's hard to convey what is in his head/his thoughts/his vision. There is so much going on in one scene -- cars flipping, cars sliding, cars racing around, people running, things falling, explosions, mortar blasts going off, and all the while cameras are moving and camera cars racing around the sets. It was quite a rush!

Yes, if you are a person who likes action, Michael Bay knows the scenes and is active in participation. Shifting gears, chat about your recent experience in India on 'Kaththi', working conditions, very hot I assume. where you stayed areas you visited.
India was such a great experience. I'm really glad that I got the opportunity to go to another country and see how they do things. They were really sweet and accommodating as well. I was so happy to be able to experience another culture and try the food. Yes, it was also very hot and humid which was fun in itself. :-)


We didn't have much of any down time while we were there, we had a tight shooting schedule. When we were done working, we didn't have much time to sight see. It's quite hard to sight see at night. We did go to the longest beach there, I think it was called the Marina Beach, but it was at night so there wasn't really anything but darkness!!


Chat about the amazing fight scene posing as a journalist camera person, how long did it take to prepare?
That was a great fight scene that we did in Chennai, India I took about a week or so of work to film. We didn't have rehearsal days, we just flew in and worked the following day up until the morning before we left! It was so great to see how the stunt coordinator there visualized everything. To see how it all came together was awesome! They really like their slow motion too.

The fight was pretty cool, and it is up on YouTube. Chat about working on the new series 'Stalker', seems like you are doing a bunch of action on the show doubling Maggie Q.

Maggie Q is quite talented. She really does pretty much all her fighting herself. I am used to work through the fights on rehearsal days, and on the day of filming as well. If there is anything that may hurt her then they will insert me into the scene where needed. She's very nice and I enjoy having the opportunity to work for her and always look forward to it as well.



Good thing that Tamiko is virtually indestructible, haha! Yes, seriously Maggie has done some really quality work on American films and TV, I would enjoy the opportunity to interview her. Shifting the topic, chat about some additional stunt skills you would like to add to your arsenal in 2015?



I would love to practice more on various skills, including: weapon work, hand speed, martial arts basics, cleaning up and making my kicks faster, better falls and of course the driving! Also, I would like to do more acting and hosting.

You have a clear speaking voice and a bright personality, a natural for hosting. Wrapping up the interview, discuss various new projects in the works for 2015, what exciting action is on deck for Tamiko?

There are several projects that I have my hand in right now. Most of them I can't disclose (of course). But you can be on the look out for episode 5.14 of 'Hawaii Five-O', episodes 5.17 and 5.19 of 'Pretty Little Liars', 'Insurgent' and several other projects in the works! I will keep you posted.



Above Photo: Tamiko in Hawaii Five-0! (C) 2015 CBS promotional use only


Thank you so much for your time with this detailed interview Tamiko, I am sure 2015 will be amazing for you, Dan's Movie Report will be first on scene to cover it, exclusively as always!

Check out Tamiko's new official site at www.tamikx.com In addition to her various action and stunt work,  she has two recent short films available on YouTube that showcase her extraordinary ability in action and adaptability.
 
Tamiko's new action reel is live online @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs8-cTow18w
 

Check out the fantastic short film shot by Vlad called 'Special ID Episode 2' @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UosO9dn2gYk  
 this film is my top overall action fight short of 2013, so epic and amazing, bone crushing and earth shattering, a game changer for modern action, my only perfect score ever for short film! Dan's Movie Report review is @ http://dansmoviereport.blogspot.com/2013/11/special-id-episode-2-blood-donnie-yen.html
 

The second short  film showcases Tamiko's comedic timing and quick wit, with action and flair. Check out the madness that is Reverse Mugging! The tables are turned as the smart and sexy Tamiko over powers the weaker thugs! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAr0ItCCYPs

Brand new action short by Aaron Toney watch tamiko kick ass and get roughed up! Very pro shot! @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cap2EL8kqFU 

Follow her on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/_tamikx_ IMDB link @ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2163396/?ref_=fn_al_nm_

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