Tomita was born in Okinawa, the daughter of Shiro and Asako Tomita, and she is 1/4 Filipino on her mother's side of the family. Her father was a distinguished Japanese-American man who was interned at Manzanar, California, during part of World War II, then later became a Los Angeles police officer, rising to the rank of sergeant and helping to form the first Asian Task force in that Department. Her father died of cancer in 1990. Tomita graduated from Granada Hills High School in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Before becoming an actress, Tomita won the title of Queen at the Nisei Week Pageant in Los Angeles in 1984, and Miss Nikkei International in 1985. In 1987, Tomita made her Japanese singing debut on the label Polydor. She released a single and an album.
- Chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world.
- She graduated from Granada Hills High School in Los Angeles and had been majoring in history at UCLA before leaving for show business.
- 1984 Nisei Week Queen in Los Angeles
- Is of Filipino and Okinawan descent.
- Tamlyn's father, the late Shiro Tomita, was interned at Manzanar during World War II as a child, and became a Sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department who helped to form the nation's first Asian task force in 1977.