Carrere may well be the Asian American actress who finally transcends the barriers of ethnic stereotyping. "The difference between Tia and other Asian American actresses is tha5t she doesn't look at herself as an ethnic. She doesn't accept those closed-minded industry boundaries," says her new agent Milt Suchin who has managed her career for the past two years.
"Hopefully Tia will break through the racial barriers in this business and not get stereotyped as only a 'good Asian actress'," says Mark Spiegel, Carrere's acting coach. "My bet is that Tia will go beyond all that."
"When I first met my agent," explains Carrere, "I said, 'If something comes up and it fits my age range and personality, something I could be right for, then I would like you to send me up for it, even if it specifies blonde or brunette. As an actress, you're already disregarded for a lot of the parts by the people who are setting up those shows. You don't need your agent to be doing the same.
"The first thing an agent in Los Angeles asked me was 'How should we categorize you? Asian, Eurasian or Oriental? I said 'I don't know. I've never heard this before.' I grew up in Hawaii where everyone was part Asian, at least mixed. It never mattered as much.
"But I won't bite the hand that feeds me. If a casting agent asks for a Chinese-looking girl for a part, then I'll hope I get it."
When Carrer was 12, a job offer called her parents and sisters Audra and Alesaundra to Samoa. Tia remained in Hawaii with her grandmother because her parents didn't want her to lose the advantage of Hawaii's school system. The separation lasted three years. "Adolescence is a drastic time for anyone," says Carrere. "I grew four inches, for heaven's sake." That difficult separation, she theorizes, may have something to do with her motivations for wanting to be an actress: "I act and perform in hopes of getting attention and admiration." PAGE 5