‘You’ Star Tati Gabrielle Has a Black Belt in Karate Thanks to Her Mom
March 27, 2023
Don’t mess with Tati Gabrielle — she’s got a black belt in karate!
The actress stopped by the March 27 episode of “The Jennifer Hudson Show” to discuss the new season of the Netflix series “You.” Tati also shared how she owes so much to her getting a black belt as a child, and credits her mom for making her stick to it.
“My mother is Korean, and she wasn’t able to give us Korean-specific culture growing up; she was adopted,” Tati told JHud.
Her mother found a dojo down the street from where they lived in Heyward, California, and signed her and her brother up. Tati notes that karate originated in Japan and not Korea, but her mother “always wanted to make sure that we embraced our Asian heritage in whatever way and just knew that we were Asian.”
“She made us promise when we started, she was like, ‘You can’t quit until you get your black belt.’ We agreed.”
Around her fourth year training in karate, Tati was also playing with three different basketball teams and it all became too much for her. “I came to my mom crying. I was a brown belt at the time… ‘Mommy, please, I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m so tired,’” she recalled telling her mother.
“She said, ‘No, you promised.’”
It took five years for Tati to earn her black belt, and she would go on to train in karate for 13 years.
“When I got my black belt, I was so grateful that she made us stick to our guns in that way,” said Tati. “Karate shaped my character,” she said. “I would not be here today if it wasn’t for karate.”
Tati grew up in the Bay Area and attended the Oakland School of the Arts, a visual and performing arts charter school. Two of her classmates at the time were singer-songwriter Kehlani and Emmy-winning “Euphoria” star Zendaya.
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“It’s so crazy,” she told JHud of going to middle school with two other performers who would go on to find success in the industry. “We talk about it all the time. It’s so wild — what are the chances?
“From middle school to being famous — let’s go!” she declared. “I’m with Kehlani all the time, and I often have moments, like, she’s my oldest friend — 14 years — to continue to grow together and watch each other shine and glow is just beautiful.”
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