Yoshi Sudarso Is Embracing His Roots and Kicking Down Doors

The multitalented Yoshi Sudarso sat down with us to talk about his career, his family, his upcoming projects and realizing how important staying close to his roots is.

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

Martial Artist Enthusiast

Although Sudarso has played two different Power Rangers in his lifetime, he doesn’t know any martial arts. “I’m not an actual martial artist. I grew up loving martial arts, watching Jackie Chan films, Jet Li, Power Rangers, all these different shows that were so action based and I loved it.”

He wanted to get involved with it at a young age, but was unable to at the wish of his parents. “My parents wouldn’t allow me, because they thought it would foster violence within me. Back in the day I accepted it, but now that I think about it, it would’ve been a good outlet for me. Growing up, my dad was a martial artist, he was involved in some gangs in Indonesia and my mom didn’t want me to turn out the same way.”

With his restrictions, Sudarso turned to YouTube, where he was able to try out different things, meet people who have done martial arts and learn from them, despite him not taking a single martial arts class. “I am not a black belt or anything, I’m a black belt in faking it,” he jokes.

Finding His Calling

Growing up, Sudarso dabbled in multiple sports but never found one he was passionate about. “I never found something that I stuck with. I would do a season of different sports, and it never really stuck with me until I started tricking.” “Tricking” otherwise known as a fusion of gymnastics and martial arts. “That’s when I leaned into it a bit more and thought, this is fun. This is something I can do.”

He was 16 when he learned how to flip. “People thought it was really cool, it was pretty much: ‘Monkey do a flip!’ I wanted recognition from the popular kids.”

Starting in the Industry

When Sudarso first got involved in the industry, he was unsure of which direction he was going. “I didn’t know if I was acting or modelling, but I booked more stunt jobs, so I got into stunts.” He worked a music video and played a couple of characters in it, the Power Ranger being the first character. “One of the coordinators asked me to do a pose, and I did the original Power Ranger pose. That’s when I was offered the job as a Power Ranger.”

For two years on and off, he worked on a roster doing two to three jobs a month. He ended up meeting actors, who provided him with insight on how they became Power Rangers. Before he knew it, he had the contact information of a Stunt Coordinator whom he, as well as his brother, Peter Sudarso, later auditioned for. “I asked if both my brother and I could audition and we both did. he got very far, I didn’t get very far. He did not end up getting the job.”

However the following year, Peter was asked to come back and audition again. Since they’re big supporters of each other, Peter inquired if Yoshi could also audition. “He was going for a nerd character, and I was going for the big bully character. But they only wanted one Asian, and it ended up being me. That was my first big acting job.”

Yoshi with his brother, Peter.
Photo: @enochonthedoor

The two brothers have not always been as close as they are today. The pair came to America when Yoshi was nine years old, and Peter was eight. “We weren’t very close, because we were trying to establish ourselves. But we also didn’t have anyone else to talk to in our language so we were kind of pitted together.”

It wasn’t until high school that they really became close. “He got into breakdancing, and I got into tricking martial arts. We built a community and we kept that mentality and started growing into it. I started off in the industry first, because I graduated first. I brought him in for an audition I couldn’t make, and he ended up booking an Apple commercial.”

His Indonesian Roots

Sudarso has received tons of support from fashion magazines and other publications in Indonesia. He was doing his own thing in America at the time, and was unsure if he was going to fully commit to acting. “I was doing a stunt job that was very lucrative, and a consistent job. It was a big project and I had just earned my spot on the team. Then, my agent reached out and told me I got an offer for the lead in a film.” He didn’t audition, but the director was confident that he fit the part perfectly.

Photo: Elle Indonesia

The movie told the story of an Indonesian-born man who moved to America and when he comes back, he has to relearn the language and culture all over again. He figures out that he is the bridge between the two worlds, rather than being part of neither world. “Every third culture kid feels like they are neither, when we need to realize we are both. We are the bridge.”

At this time, Sudarso realized he would have to give up his spot on the job he had just booked for the next eight years. “They told me, if I left they wouldn’t have a spot for me. I didn’t think twice, I said yes and I left. Sometimes you have to lean into it, and have faith that God is going to provide.” He went on to film two more movies, one of which was Buffalo Boys and the second film was set in modern times. “I fully speak Indonesian, I play a crazy rich Asian basically. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the people and the food. Someone asked me if I would stay another month to film another movie and I said ‘Yes, absolutely.’”

Yoshi and Peter are the only ones in America, their family is in Indonesia. “We did our best to fit in, and we were moulding ourselves to America and pushing away who we truly were. It took me a long time to figure out that I need to celebrate who I am. Whenever I see my parents, I only speak to them in Indonesian, they love it.”

What’s Next

Sudarso’s most recent work was a project where he played a North Korean student. “It was crazy! I had to learn North Korean. It was only a few lines, but definitely a challenge. I’m realizing more and more how much I love learning new languages.” He also recently came back from the Philippines after filming Empty by Design with Osric Chau. Yoshi and Peter also played leads in the martial arts comedy Paper Tiger. “It’s a really fun short. It’s always fun when I get to work with Peter. Sharing a screen with him has been our dream since forever.”

Their campaign with Express is officially out too and Sudarso shares how the work resonated with him. “They didn’t say ‘We want you as typical Asians’ they just wanted us for us. They were spreading unity, and that’s what we’re all about. Building a community and uniting everybody.”

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

Want to read more about Yoshi Sudarso? Check out our round table with Osric Chau, Yoshi Sudarso, Peter Sudarso, and Manny Shih.

Yoshi and Peter in their Express campaign.
Photo: Express Men

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