When AWMA’s own Kieran Tamondong made his national television debut on NBC’s new hit talent show, Little Big Shots, on Sunday night, he didn’t just charm host Steve Harvey. He impressed the rest of the country, too.
“My Dad keeps saying my Twitter’s blowing up!” the 13 year old 17 time martial arts world champion told us the morning after his star-making turn in the episode called “The Karate Kid” aired across North America. “Instagram, Facebook. It’s just so amazing that so many people are commenting, saying nice things.”
But don’t expect him to get a big head any time soon. He’s not even comfortable calling his new social media followers fans. “If I use the term ‘fans’ or ‘famous,’ then it makes me feel like kind of a jerk,” he said. The humble martial artist is excited that people appreciate his work, though. Especially those closest to him. “I was just so happy to see myself on TV with my friends and my family. It was just amazing!” It’s that kind of grounded and dedicated attitude that helped Kieran land a spot of the show to begin with. “I tell Kieran all the time, a lot of these opportunities may seem like a surprise, but you put in a lot of hard work and you know a lot of people who know you and know what you can do,” his dad, Patrick, said. Kieran was getting ready to go to bed after a long day of competing at a tournament in Minnesota last October when his dad got a call from his tricking coach. A producer from NBC had heard about ta promising young karate competitor and seen some of his videos on YouTube and wanted him to send a quick video to try out for a new show they were making. The only catch was that they wanted to see that video as soon as possible. So Kieran got out of bed and headed down to the tournament mats with his dad to shoot a late night audition video where he introduced himself and showed off some of his best moves. “We just sent it and hoped for the best,” Kieran recalled. NBC’s response was just as fast and enthusiastic. By the time father and son made it back home to California on Sunday, they’d already received a call from from Little Big Shots‘ co-executive producer Alison Holloway offering Kieran a spot on the show. Kieran shot his appearance later that month and had a blast putting on an awesome routine, chatting with the host, and even teaching him a few moves. “I was on the couch for about 25 minutes. When I was with Steve Harvey, being that close to a celebrity, it just blows my mind to see how far I’ve gotten since I started karate. And when I heard his jokes with me and when I got to mess around with him holding the pad, it was just so much fun. I felt like he was my friend, and not like a big [star].” Harvey flinched just a little when Kieran handed him a pad and made him past of the demonstration, but Kieran doesn’t blame him. “I would have been scared if someone had tried to kick me and I had no karate experience.”
Can he kick it? Yes, @TamondongKieran can! #LittleBigShots pic.twitter.com/qATAxLS4le — Little Big Shots (@NBCLilBigShots) April 11, 2016
Kieran was also able to offer Harvey some important martial arts wisdom during their talk.
“Martial arts isn’t supposed to be used just for attacking somebody if you don’t like them.” #LittleBigShots pic.twitter.com/A8yMWWUH4U
— Little Big Shots (@NBCLilBigShots) April 12, 2016
And he gave the host a quick karate lesson as part of the appearance. How did he rate Harvey as a student? “Effort? 10. Quality?… 4.” We think that’s a pretty fair assessment. Kieran, on the other hand, we give a 10/10.
Kieran’s main focus is still school and the competition circuit, but he’s staying open to other opportunities, as well. In addition to Little Big Shots, he’s also appearing in a Sketchers commercial, and he’d love to get more involved in arts and entertainment in the future. “I’m really hoping to be an actor for a show, or just anything. I’m really excited for all of these things, whether it’s a commercial, or a show, or even a music video. They all just amaze me and that’s what I’m hoping to do. But currently we’re just looking for opportunities.” In the meantime, he really wants to know what everyone back at school thinks of big debut. “I’m just hoping my friends got to see it. I’m hoping people say stuff about it.” What did you think of Kieran’s segment? Let us know in the comments!
THANK YOU everyone for all the nice messages and likes on IG, FB and Twitter. Check out the NBC website to watch “The Karate Kid” episode. It has my full interview with @iamsteveharveytv on @nbclittlebigshots #littlebigshots #steveharvey #ellendegeneres #kierantamondong #nbc A photo posted by kieran tamondong (@kierantamondong) on