Erika Tham is gradually making her mark in the international acting scene, with a role in the 2019 live action Kim Possible movie.
The 20-year-old actress first came into the spotlight in 2015 as one of the leads on Make It Pop, a Canadian musical comedy series that aired on Nickelodeon.
In an email interview with StarLifestyle, Tham recalls auditioning for the life-altering show when she was 14: “It was one of my very first auditions and I honestly didn’t really know what I was doing, but I ended up booking the show and it gave me my start as an actress!”
The Canadian actress later moved to Los Angeles, where she is based now. But Tham is no stranger to living and adapting to new places.
Due to her father’s work obligations, Tham spent a large part of her childhood in various South-East Asian countries including Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
“I have so many amazing memories from these places! From spending time with my family in Penang for Chinese New Year to making my parents go on The Mummy roller coaster 300 times at Universal Studios in Singapore with me!”
Tham is born to a Malaysian Chinese father from Penang while her mother is Dutch-Ukrainian.
1. How did growing up in so many different places shape you as a person?
I am so grateful to have grown up experiencing so many different cultures because I think it has allowed me to be able to adapt quickly to new environments, as well as given me a very open mind in terms of cultures or ideas that might be different than my own.
It has broadened my perspective of the world which in turn has allowed me to make more educated career, business and lifestyle decisions.
2. In the live action Kim Possible movie, you play Kim’s enemy Bonnie. Transforming such a well-loved animated series into a live-action film, did you feel you had to follow closely Bonnie’s mannerisms from the animated series?
I felt a big sense of responsibility with portraying Bonnie because I understood how well loved the original series was and as a fan myself, I really wanted to make sure I did her justice.
I definitely did my research and re-watched many Kim Possible episodes but I also allowed the script and directors to shape my performance.
3. One of your earlier projects, Make It Pop, featured a set of racially-diverse characters and had a K-pop theme. Since then, have there been many opportunities for you to play Asian characters and tell Asian stories?
I think the industry is moving in the right direction in terms of inclusivity and diversity.
There has definitely been a noticeable increase in the amount of auditions I receive for non-stereotypical, quality Asian roles this past year compared to when I first started and that makes me very happy. I hope we continue in this direction.
4. Your dad is Malaysian. What Malaysian traditions/practices whether in terms of food, language and so forth did you pick up from him?
My dad grew up in Penang, a heaven on earth for street food lovers! Unfortunately, I can’t speak Penang Hokkien but I do love the very delicious Penang food. My favourite is Penang asam laksa!
5. And your mum is Dutch-Ukrainian. What’s it like growing up in a household with so many different heritage?
It’s awesome! My mum’s side of the family and my dad’s side of the family are so different and that has allowed me to experience the best of both worlds in terms of the East and West.
My parents both respect and appreciate the differences in their cultures and upbringings, and growing up in such an open-minded environment has shown me how important it is to be tolerant and accepting of those who are different from you.
Kim Possible premieres March 25 at 10am on Disney Channel (Astro Ch 615).