Tharoth Sam : meet the kick-ass Khmer princess

Today I’m very pleased to introduce you to a young woman whom I like very much and with whom I had the joy to work during the filming of action comedy Jailbreak (where she plays the leading female role and which is currently very successful in theaters Cambodia). Tharoth Sam, 26, nicknamed “Little Frog” (The Little Frog) is a real kick ass lady. Behind her angelic face hides a real warrior. Professional MMA fighter, expert in Bokator (the national martial art in Cambodian), Tharoth is the face of a new generation full of hope and determination …


Hello dear Tharoth, can you please tell us first about your career as a fighter? When, and why did you start learning martial arts? Which styles do you practice?

Hello! I’ve been practicing martial art Bokator about 9 years ago when I was about 18 years old.    I started martial arts because I loved playing sport when I was younger. I wanted to know how to fight in order to protect myself and my family and I’ve always wanted to be part of an action movie.

Why did you chose to become a professionnal fighter? You teach and you also do professional fights right?

Yes, I do professional fights, and I teach sometimes. I chose to become a professional fighter because when I started martial arts I was just a performer (doing fight performances with choreographies for example, doing some forms and stuffs). Then my goal was to become tougher . I was willing to try a new » taste of life », to see what’s the difference between performing and having a real fight. I also want to show people that girls can fight, and be like men sometimes, when they want to be.

Please tell us your daily routine. What is the schedule of a regular day? What do you do for training?

Everyday, I wake up at 5.30am to run. Then I come back home to look after my dad and to help my mom to do some housework.
I work in the afternoon from Monday to Wednesday as a volunteer for one independent online radio. In the evening I train again, sometimes Bokator, sometimes Kun Khmer kick boxing, and sometimes MMA.

When you are in the cage facing your opponent, how do you feel, what is your state of mind before, during and after the fight? 

When I’m in the cage facing my opponent, I feel a bit nervous from the beginning, and then I think « they’re not better than me I’m not better than them, we’re just human, so just be concentrate and focus on you have to do.

Fight smart, try your best, and go for it! »

You told me once you wanted to encourage women to learn martial arts in order to learn to defend themselves. What is the status of women in Cambodia? Is there a lot of violence against women? Is there a feminist movement? Do you also consider yourself as a feminist?

Regarding the status of women in Cambodia, yeah,  acts of violence happen very often against them, there are lots of rapes.
Yes, there is a feminist movement now as I can see.  Personaly, I am a woman, but I never consider myself as a feminist. ( I mean in my daily life, while traveling, training etc.). I mostly consider myself as a man, confident, and brave.

What do you mean by saying «  a man » ? Do you think mean are the reference or are you talking more about a form of strenght ?

Yes, for me  women should be like men sometimes. You know all the men jobs, like fixing the roof of the house or the broken pipe, the car, the bike and stuff. And I mean, having a strong mind, and not to bee too emotional . Women should be like that sometimes.


What do you like about acting? is it difficult to do both training and acting?  (For exemple Ronda Rousey had to finally chose between her career as a fighter and a movie star)

About acting ? I think I like it because it’s fun sometimes, and to act, for me, is like to learn from something. It’s likea mix between  « art » and some lessons of life, and more.
Yes, it’s very difficult to do both,  acting and training because it’s  so much work. At one point it’s not possible to do everything well. When you’re too busy acting, you don’t have time to focus on training, then your fighting career decreases .

How many movies have you done so far?

I’ve done 8 movies, (some I was main cast, some not).
Can you tell us a few words about your experience working with Angelina Jolie ?

The movie that I worked with Agelina Jolie, I could say that it was an amazing experience to me! I felt overwhelm the first day I met her, and even had a chance to talk with her face to face, and to even get some excited compliments from her. She was a really beautiful, nice, kind and generous person. I ‘m so proud for my country, Cambodia, and  that she chose so many talented of our people to work with her.

What’s the specifity of Jailbreak compared to your past movies? Please tell us a few stories of your choice about Jailbreak  ( something funny, or scary..  anything that you like )

Compare to my past movies, Jailbreak is kinda very special action movie. This is the very exclusive action movie in Cambodia. I’m also proud to be in that movie, because we represent a lot of Khmer martial art Bokator, and also our talented young people. And I love it because I played as a cop in there, a bad ass one, which means I could show the « girl power » a represent my country as well. That’s what I like the most about it.


On Facebook you posted some pics of you when you are dressed as a fighter but also as a dancer, the contrast is huge but we must say, you’re stunning in both characters ! How do you define yourself as a woman?      

Sometimes I posted my profile as a fighter with my Kun Khmer short, and my cover picture as a beautiful dancer, because I think the pictures say it all (laughs). I would like to express that,

I can be a bad ass girl… and a nice educated girl. I can be a fighter, and a dancer or a singer.

What is the definition of feminity for you?                                                                                                                                                           The definition of femininity for me is :  beautiful, tough , smart, kind, bad-ass, brave, soft but strong mentaly and physicaly… a super hero  and more… ! (laughs)

What do you want people to remember from you? I want people to remember me as a very talented kick-ass girl from Cambodia. (smile)


Do you plan to visit us in France? hen you think of France and French people, what picture do you have in mind?

I hope can visit Paris one day, all the famous places, lie the Eiffel Tower. When I think of France , I think of “art” first…and also perfume! and a good imagination.

How will you see yourself in 10 years?
 In 10 years? I don’t know. I can’t see myself in 10 years yet. Maybe, I’ll be already very successful in my career, and maybe I’ll be teaching my kids martial arts, and I will also teach to all the young generation of my country, Cambodia.

 What can we wish you for 2017?
You guys can just wish me a health and success in everything I do, so I can put more energy to all my work that I accomplish for the country, for the young generations in order to be a good role model for them.

THANK YOU ALL for the interview!

Thank you dear young lady !

The word of Jailbreak producer, Loy Te:

Even before to have start writing the script of Jailbreak, we knew we wanted a female bad ass character a bit like Michelle Rodriguez.

When we chose Tharoth for the role, we had some obvious reasons . She’s a MMA champion in Cambodia, a member of the National team of Bokator, perfectly bilingual in Khmer and English … Tharoth has also a natural beauty which is reminiscent of the face of apsaras in Angkor temples.  She might  be a real fury on the ring and on her fight videos, most of all we’ ve been very impressed and seduced by her personality.

Tharoth turned out to be the person with the biggest heart that one could hope to have on set. Coming from a very modest family, her efforts have always been focused on helping her parents, taking care of them, but also of others. She is a big sister to everyone, who cares for others, always smiles, and always finds a way to make us laugh.

Her determination to follow her passion for martial arts despite the stereotypes on women in Cambodia makes her an ideal role model for young people, a symbol to inspire new generations to surpass feminine discrimination and dare to believe in their dreams whatever they are. And this is also her goal in her career, she wants to inspire other young women in their lives.

It’s a message to which we were very fond in a country where women are still too often devalued.


"On a plusieurs vies dans une vie."

Comments (2)

  1. Hi Celine and Tharoth 🙂

    We have just watched your movie The Jailbreak and it is an awesome action movie. Both of your acting are very inspiring for women. Wonderful and great job to both of you 🙂

  2. I’m supposedly to watch meteor garden but I don’t know why I chose ending up here…. so inspiring…. I wish I could be just like her….brave, strong and a good fighter…. adding her to my list of inspirational women…. hello ms. Tharot sam…. hope I could you someday…. please don’t ever get tire of inspiring us women okay….😀

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