Like her character Claudia Kishi narrating the opening scene of episode two in "The Baby-Sitters Club," Momona Tamada could recite a laundry list of her own talents: dramatic and comedic acting, dancing and experimenting with style. The latter, in particular, has been influenced by her portrayal of the iconic Asian-American tween in the Netflix series — after all, she did wear the most fun fashion-y costumes in the series, including the 2020 powersuit take on Cher's yellow plaid in "Clueless," the Tippi Hedren in "The Birds"-themed Halloween get-up, a very "Ruth Bader Ginsberg-chic" dress and all the fruit earrings and colorful scrunchies.
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"Oooh, okay!" says Tamada, excitedly, over the phone, before sharing her favorite outfits — of many — worn to play Claudia. (And, yes, the 13-year-old actor is just as bubbly, energetic and charming as her on-screen persona. I'm obsessed.)
If her turn in the moving episode "Claudia and Mean Jeanine" didn't already prove it, Tamada has range. She stole our hearts as a mini-Lara Jean (Lana Condor) in "To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You," and appears in the upcoming third installment, "To All The Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean." She's also appeared in Netflix's WWE family comedy "The Main Event," AMC's award-winning horror series "The Terror" and Amazon's alterna-superhero show "The Boys." Tamada is also a competitive dancer, having performed with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and in the British Columbia Summer Games Opening Ceremonies. Plus, she's modeled for Lululemon.
Tamada jumped on the phone with Fashionista before joining a Facebook Live panel titled "A Celebration of Claudia Kishi," alongside the show's executive producer Naia Cucukov and "The Claudia Kishi Club" documentary director Sue Ding. Ahead, she shares how many times she's seen "Clueless," what "one-of-a-kind" wardrobe treasure she took home and why fashion is "a lot larger than clothes."
What were your fittings with 'BSC' costume designer Cynthia Summers like?
So, as you know, Claudia is quite fashionable and, in fittings, I probably had the most clothes. Cynthia and her wardrobe team are just absolutely incredible, so three-hour-long fittings would only feel like one hour because we'd have so much fun in them. I've always struggled with finding clothes that fit me, so it took quite a lot of time to pin stuff for alterations. I would say my fittings took a little bit longer, for sure, but I would not have traded a single minute for anything else. It was so much fun.
Which were some of your favorite Claudia outfits to wear?
Of course, her iconic mustard boilersuit [top]. Fun fact: That actually was white and then I'm pretty sure they dyed it to mustard yellow, which was super cool. She also wears these overalls and they were very customized — [Summers] wrote 'BSC' on them and stuff like that. I love clothes that are very one-of-a-kind that you can't really find anywhere else. She added little faces to the side and I actually got to take a pair home, which was awesome.
You also had the honor of wearing the yellow plaid suit, similar to what Alicia Silverstone, who plays Kristy's mom, wore in 'Clueless.' Did you ever talk to her about that outfit? Have you seen 'Clueless?'
I have seen 'Clueless' multiple times before I even knew that Alicia Silverstone was going to be on the show. So when we figured it out, I was so excited to meet her and be able to work with her because that was such a dream come true to me. [The outfit] was such a cool nod to 'Clueless.' The show even has a little Easter Egg in there, when Sophie Grace [as Kristy] says, 'I guess she wasn't totally clueless,' which a lot of people have been loving.
I don't think I ever got to talk to [Silverstone] about that outfit. But we talked a little bit about my wedding outfit, because I got to work with her in a few of the wedding scenes. She loved all of our outfits. Sophia is incredible with that little nod that everyone is freaking out over, and [the suit] just adds a little bit of Claudia's personality into this original iconic yellow plaid.
Asian Twitter blew up when photos of Claudia in the Angry Asian Man 'Stay Angry' T-shirt came out. I have that same one. That's a perfect example of how fashion can make a social and cultural statement. How did you feel wearing it — it looked super cute on you — while playing an iconic Asian-American character?
Well, I believe one of the producers, Naia, brought the shirt. It was so cool to be able to wear something to represent Asian culture and art [through the drawing by Irene Koh] within fashion. Because I feel like fashion is a lot larger than clothes, you know what I mean? Fashion is like art, a way to express yourself, so being able to wear that shirt was a way that I thought was super cool to represent Asians and Asian Americans on-screen.
I love how Claudia uses fashion as a form of self-expression. How did that influence you to express yourself through what you wear?
Well, I'm not gonna lie. When I was younger and before I entered the film industry, I was always a dancer and because I was very small for my age, it was very difficult to find clothes that fit me. I would always be wearing leggings and hoodies and stuff like that. But working with so many great stylists and so many different wardrobe teams — that each are so special and have cool senses of style — it definitely influenced my personal style. Especially Claudia. She's taught me to think a little bit more outside of the box when it comes to clothes and really try to experiment with your clothes. I've been doing that a lot during this time, because, I mean, we really don't have much to do. So I've been doing though my closet, seeing what clothing items can go with what and really trying to think outside the box.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I feel like my sense of fashion changes a lot. I can't stick to one style, but I would say very streetwear. I love playing with accessories. Accessories are a really cool way to add to your outfit — even if it's very basic, you can have a really bold earring or something like that and really make it more of a statement.
While you've been experimenting with your closet, what are some favorite looks that you put together?
Because recently, I got to go shopping — of course, I wore a mask and I was staying safe — I got to buy quite a few clothing items. I got to really experiment with those because it's so exciting always, getting new clothes, because it adds to your wardrobe and [I can] try to make new outfits. I find it very difficult to have to look at the same clothes, every single day. I can't think of particular outfits that I put together. but I've been trying my best to find photos online and see how I can use that influence, taking my personal items and making them work together.
Where and from whom do you look for style inspiration?
I mean, of course, Claudia. She's definitely a style inspiration to me. Personally, I don't really look on Instagram for style. I stick mostly to Pinterest for that type of stuff. I usually find a bunch of creators and celebrities and save some of their outfits I like. So I can't say that I look up to one person in particular. It's a very wide range of different celebrities and people.
What about TikTok?
Yes. Taylor Hage does little tutorials on how to style blazers and how to style jeans.
I loved the opening scene in episode two when Claudia is looking her her packed closet and quickly puts together an outfit. What's your closet like?
I would say my closet is pretty organized. It gets pretty messy when I'm trying stuff on and throwing things onto the floor. I usually have all the things that would wrinkle easily hanging up and then I have all my T-shirts and pants in a drawer. Bigger things like sweaters and hoodies and stuff, I usually fold separately or hang them because they tend to be a little bit bulkier.
You're way more organized than I am.
I'm pretty organized, I would say.
Is that something your parents help you with or you do it independently?
I'm pretty independent with that. I always know when my closet is getting a little bit messy. So one of my favorite things is to take everything out and then refold everything and put it back in and it's all neat.
So how do you like to shop? What's your approach?
Thanks to 'The Baby-Sitters Club,' I've been hooked on Simons. A lot of Claudia's clothes came from that store and they have a huge variety of unique items of clothing. I also love shopping at Zara. I usually think about what items I have at home that can go with the items I'm buying. It's important to have clothes you can mix and match with other clothes — there's no point of buying something that doesn't go with the rest of your wardrobe. A huge thing that I've learned is to always try stuff on. Nothing sucks more than buying something and being super excited about it and going home and realizing it doesn't fit you.
I love that you and Shay Rudolph, who plays Stacey, are really close in real life. When you were on set, did you both ever go shopping together or do fashion-y things together?
Well, all of us, we went to the mall a few times together. Then Shay and I went to this small little town really close to Vancouver. We shopped there and we got a few new things because there are very local stores and local artists. We got little matching necklaces and stuff. It was a ton of fun. I go to Shay a lot for fashion advice because she is super fashionable.
The above interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.