Tia, you're over here for Oz Comic Con. Do you remember the first convention you attended? Have they changed much since then?
They’re changed drastically. They’re huge! I think people realised how much fun they are. And – this sounds clichéd – they’re fun for the whole family. I remember there was a small fringe thing, a Hollywood show they’d run here, many years ago. I went as a fan. I collected a bunch of old-time movie star autographs like the amazing Tippi Hedren.
So what’s it like being on the other side, where people want your autograph?
It’s very strange because I’m just me, you know? But then I talk to girls who say “I watched Relic Hunter at the end of my school day,” or “it was something that my mother and I would always watch, and now she’s passed away...” It can bring tears to your eyes. You forget a lot of the things that you do. I’ve been acting for about 30 years which is insane. Because I’m only 27.
Do you have a ballpark figure for the number of sexy assassins you’ve played?
I have no idea. ‘Tea house waitress by day... ninja by night!’ ‘Schoolteacher by day... ninja by night!’ There were a lot of ninjas.
After you play a certain number of ninjas, you should be made an honorary ninja.
I’d love that. Send me to Ninja Academy.
You’ve just pitched the next big reality TV show!
Ninja Academy! Oh my god! Let’s do it.
One of the first suggested google searches for your name is still ‘Tia Carrera ethnicity’. Do you think there’d be different roles available if you were starting out now?
I know that when I started out, there was no one on TV who looked like I did. That’s a lot of what I get when girls come up to me, or other Asian or mixed actors. They say when they saw me, in whatever show or whatever movie, they realised they could do it too. Maybe I did come through a little early because there’s more opportunities now. But by the same token, it meant when I went for a role, I was only going up against a handful of people. I saw the same four or five girls at every audition.
The three main reasons con-goers want to meet Tia Carrere
Relic Hunter (1999 – 2002)
“Young women come out to see me for Relic Hunter. It was a Xena kind of thing. Girl empowerment and tongue-in-cheek fun. The fanbase is really strong.”
Wayne’s World (1992) and Wayne’s World 2 (1993)
“For the boys, the Wayne’s World movies seem integral to them… I don’t know… discovering their manhood? Maybe it’s when they discovered they liked exotic-looking girls?”
True Lies (1994)
“And I’m often told ‘Oh, my husband loved you in True Lies!’”
Tia Carrere is a guest of Oz Comic-Con Melbourne, 6 & 7 July.