Karen Fukuhara, with her rich experience in karate and the wider world of martial arts, has always been a tough guy. However, since she portrayed the character Katana in the superhero movie Suicide Squad 2016 DC, she has added swordplay to her fighting repertoire.
Stories like Karen’s are rare. Before Suicide Squad, she had no acting portfolio at all. So it is all the more fascinating to see how this Japanese American woman seized the opportunity and took on the role of Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana. If you didn’t know who she was before, you certainly do now.
After her explosive film debut in the DC franchise, her management has become much busier. Fukuhara has appeared in a number of other films and series.
The DC fans were not the only ones who were surprised by Karen’s appearance out of nowhere. Apparently, this also attracted the interest of many TV show productions. Since her explosive debut, Karen has appeared in shows such as Conan, Good Morning America, Made in Hollywood, and Close-Up with Carrie Keagan. All these performances took place in 2016.
After her brilliant performance with the DC Comics story, she has worked on several other projects, including movies and television series. In 2017 she sang the character of the Sewer Queen in the short television animated film Craig of the Creek. In 2018 she took on a recurring role as the narrator of the same character in the television series of the same name. Karen Fukuhara also appeared in the cast of The Lost as Laura Baker, Stray as Nori, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, playing Glimmer, and The Boys, among others.
Besides her appearance and her filmography, you will find some things you might not know about the young actress.
1. Karen Fukuhara has worked a few odd jobs in her past
Before her outburst, the actress had filled a number of positions, some of which most would describe as strange. She worked as an editor for subtitles and as a translator, two tasks she was able to fulfill thanks to her polyglot nature. Karen was born on February 10, 1992, and grew up in Los Angeles, but her parents, who are Japanese immigrants, taught her the Japanese language.
Fukuhara also waited for tables in a reggae sushi themed restaurant. This is probably the most unorthodox role she has ever worked in. At the time she was selected for the Suicide Squad cast, she was working as a translator for a Japanese model and helped her find her way around New York Fashion Week.
2. She didn’t know what character she was auditioning for on Suicide Squad
When she graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology and a minor in theater, Karen decided to devote herself entirely to acting and began auditioning for many roles through her manager Sally Hinata. When she started applying for the role, all she knew was that it was the role of a character who had fighting skills.
When the audition organizers decided to leave it at that, she went home and picked relevant words on her trusted computer. Karen googled phrases such as “Japanese, sword, figure, hero, superhero” and found out some information about the sword-wielding character Katana.
This helped her to better prepare for her auditions, especially in the second round, which was about swordplay. She left such an impression on director David Ayer, who played a major role in her selection.
3. She is a martial arts specialist
Karen Fukuhara might not have been a martial artist if she had not been asked by her mother to look after her little brother. He had just started taking karate classes and was a notorious kid in school, Karen’s mother didn’t want him to cause trouble at school or anywhere else, hence Karen’s babysitting act. But her supervisory duties soon turned into a real interest in the art of karate, and the rest is, as they say, history.
Karen became really good at karate and even won a karate championship in her high school days. She has a brown belt and practices a brutal, full-contact, and MMA-like karate style known as Kyokushin karate, which means “the ultimate truth”. This helped her develop almost all the stunts she used on the set of Suicide Squad.
4. Suicide Squad was not her first television appearance
Although the DC Comics blockbuster movie was her first acting role, it was not the first time she stood in front of the big screen. After a friend introduced her to a Disney casting director, Karen became one of the hosts for the Disney Channel’s movie Movie Surfers. During her time at the show, she was allowed to do interviews with people like Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, and Orlando Bloom. At that time she was an eighth-grader.
This marked her entrance through the mighty doors of Hollywood. She was given other opportunities, including World Sports, which was broadcast on Japan’s national public radio station NHK, along with Disney’s Movie Surfers.
5. She got a tattoo along with co-star Margot Robbie
The actress talked about the fun time she spent with the actors of the Suicide Squad during the shooting. According to Karen, there was Jared Leto, who always introduced himself as Joker, whether he was in the role or in the offset.
One of her best moments during this time was the day she got a “SKWAD” tattoo on her ankle to remind her team of supervillains. Margot Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn, came to the set with her tattoo gun and gave everyone – except Will Smith – a matching “SKWAD” tattoo. Karen got hers on her ankle.
6. Karen Fukuhara still lives with her folks
In an NBC interview in 2016, the actress admitted that although much had changed in her life after Suicide Squad, her living conditions had not. Karen, who attends A-list events and flies around in private planes, still lives with her parents. She loves spending time with her parents, and she was especially happy when she convinced her nervous traditional Japanese father to come with her to the Suicide Squad movie premiere.
7. Karen used to be in a singing group
During her studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) the actress tried her hand at singing. She belonged to an a cappella group known as the UCLA Medleys. She was also in the group for a while, which led her fans to believe that she must have some nice pipes with her.