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Culture Connections


Ancient magic. A talking tiger. The Tiger’s Apprentice, streaming now, is an animated movie filled with marvels. Brandon Soo Hoo voices Tom Lee, the movie’s young hero. TFK Kid Reporter Sophia Zhang interviewed the actor about his character and experiences.


How would you describe Tom?

Tom is trying to find his place in the world as a hero. He wants to find his community and step into his fullest potential.

Which parts of Tom resonate with you most?

Tom is not too different from me. I’m Chinese-American. He grew up in Chinatown in the Bay Area [of San Francisco, California]. I grew up in Chinatown in Los Angeles. So I didn’t have to dig too deep into my life and my experiences to relate to Tom.

And Tom is really good at trying to stay positive when situations are difficult. He uses his wit and his sense of humor to overcome hardships. Those are things I can definitely relate to.

In the beginning, Tom tries to go about [dealing with] a lot of his obstacles with brute force. But he learns to use his head a bit more and find compassion. That’s something that I had to develop as I got older, too.

What’s the most important message you want kids to take away from this movie?

Don’t be afraid to lean on the people that you love, for support, if you need it. There’s so much value and so much power in community, and there’s so much value in family.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with TIME for Kids readers?

Even if your culture isn’t super familiar to the peers that are around you, embrace it and be proud of it. There’s strength in leaning into your culture.