Interviewed by Valentino Valdez

Valentino Valdez, who many on Twitter affectionately know and refer to as @valdezign, was the first to tell me that this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) would be screening “The Karate Kid Part II” which was the first film I got to do when I was 12. He asked if he could interview me about the film, and I was also able to tell him a little about “Bait,” one of five short films included in this year’s TalkStory Productions’ HIFF entry of “The Short List.”

Tamlyn Tomita & Traci ToguchiTamlyn Tomita and me at HIFF (Hawaii International Film Festival).

We tried to do the interview in person, but timing and logistics posed some challenges as the days were leading up to last night’s “The Karate Kid Part II” screening, so we corresponded via email, Twitter DM’s (Direct Messages), and a few texts.

One of the things that have continued to surprise me was how Tino saw most of the work I’ve done (from campy flicks to pilot episodes). This surprised me even more because I haven’t yet seen many of them.

He posted the interview early this morning, and many kind Hawaii folk have already shared it.

Here it is:

When The Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) announced they were bringing ‘The Karate Kid Part II’ back to the big screen for the 25th anniversary (showing tonight at Dole Cannery), I was stoked. It’s such a cult hit, especially here in Hawaii, and I have fond memories of watching it with my family in the back of our shag-carpeted Chevy Malibu station wagon at Kam Drive-In, as well as re-enacting every scene with my sister and nephew. I was compelled to seek out the only person I knew, personally, that was in the movie–-local ‘renaissance chick’, Traci Toguchi—to get some behind the scenes scoops. Her role in the film (she’s credited as ‘Girl Ringing Bell’) was not only a turning point in the movie (Sato sees the light!), but a turning point in her career. I sat down and talked with Traci (and by “sat down and talked”, I mean, emailed her questions and waited for her to reply) about her experiences on ‘The Karate Kid Part II’, as well as catch up on her other projects as an actor, musician, designer, and yes, baker!

Was ‘The Karate Kid Part II’ your first film? Was it your first “Hollywood” job?

Yes, it was. It’s how I got my SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card. :) (My first acting job was a Japanese commercial for Mitsubishi of Japan when I was 8.)

What was it like working on such a popular movie? Can you describe some personal experiences you had with the stars of the film?

It was a dream come true. My sister and I kept Karate Kid posters of Ralph Macchio on our bedroom walls, so everything – from the audition process (standing and crying, hitting an imaginary bell in a room at the Ilikai Hotel), to the callbacks (on set with many other kids – all needing to climb the tower and cry), to the filming process (did some of my own stunts and had a stunt woman!) , to the premiere in Hollywood (my mom and I got to attend!) – was surreal.

From Day One, Ralph was so kind, thoughtful and professional. We shot that bell tower scene a zillion times (not only in Hawaii in Kahalu’u, but also in Los Angeles in a movie studio parking lot). That required much rehearsal and getting wet, cold, and muddy. After every take, everyone would rush to Ralph, but he’d tell everyone to help me first, and let me to go first to take a hot shower (and clean off for the next take). He made sure I had hot cocoa. I’ll forever be grateful for his kindness.

… continued at ValenTumblr – An interview with ‘Girl Ringing Bell’, Traci Toguchi

~ ~ ~

Thanks uber much, Tino!

If innovators are making the world a "better place to live," what does "better" really mean and according to whom?

     This morning, I tweeted a post from the Harvard Business Review by H. James Wilson titled “Understanding the Language of Innovation.” Within thirty minutes, it was retweeted. What grabbed me while browsing the site was this quote from a commenter (“aaroneden”): “The word ‘innovator’ should only be granted to those who are catalysts for change – change that makes our world a better place. Now let’s define ‘better’…”

     In reading through the posts and readers’ comments, there is little ambiguity on what should be considered innovation. What is up for discussion are definitions and terms, as well as how to most effectively do so. The context in which innovation is conveyed especially in the technology and general business realms seems to be how to make it “successful.” In other words, how to improve what is existing or not yet in existence, combined with generating revenue from it. One commenter (“Joe”) posted what he said is a quote from Steve Jobs’: “Innovation is creativity that ships…”

     The statement by the former commenter I mentioned about now needing to define what is considered “better” prompts a shift in thought and focus. Instead of merely looking at iconic, innovative successes like those of Apple and Google, we could look at what these innovations are doing to improve the lives of people in a better way.

     We can take for granted that the innovation of Facebook has changed the way people communicate. Many debate whether it is for “better,” and for whom. It goes without saying the success of Facebook is better for the founders, investors and employees. It can also be viewed as being better for users. There is now a “better” way of being able to communicate faster and easily share real-time content with many instantaneously.

     However, others on the opposite end of the discussion could say it is not so much better that more hours are being spent away from real-life relationships, including in-person communication, and let’s not forget time spent away from personal and work matters. How many people do you know keep Facebook open throughout an entire work day or class session?

     So who’s to say what a “better” anything really is? This reflection reminds me of discussions in my Political Science class on modern political theorists including John Locke about the individual and Jean-Jacques Rousseau about the general will.

     Should “better” be considered by what individuals collectively feel it is? (This could be determined by voting or surveys ala Locke, but do we have the time and resources to poll everything?) Or should the meaning be what is determined by what the general population deems is so? (This could be determined not after discussion or by a vote, but ways in which an administrator or civil servant of some nature facilitates to help determine this so no individuals are influenced by another ala Rousseau.) Or perhaps going along with the innate good feeling we get when we think of what’s better can be enough to continue to carry us along the innovative path to a better world.

     After that is determined, who then determines when what people decided as being “better” will be done? In the case of Facebook’s ever changing policies and features, it seems that at the end of the day, defaulting to doing the right thing lasts beyond any innovation.