Lainie Sakakura is a director, choreographer, and writer based in NYC with an impressive 33 year career in the Arts! Her credits include starring in 6 original Broadway casts, including Fosseand Chita Rivera The Dancer’s Life, and she’s been awarded the Joe A. Callaway Award for Outstanding Choreography and the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Choreography! Sakakura also became the second AAPI Radio City Rockette since Setsuko Maruhashi in 1985. Her creative team experience led her to direct and create the book for Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a new musical adaptation of the NY Times BestSeller,Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, as well as co-conceiving and writing for Celebrating Asian Americans on Broadwayand 60th Anniversary of Flower Drum Songfor BCEFA’s Red Bucket Follies, and acting as the writer and director for every NYC Alvin Ing solo show! Offstage, she serves as co-founder for both Rockettes of Color Alumnae and Sakachez, and advocates for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, National Asian Artists Project, and more! Her advice to young artists? “Do something for your career each day,” take special care of your mental headspace, and know that “your happiness is your success… [which] doesn’t necessarily live on Broadway.” Read on to learn more about Lainie Sakakura and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Delphi Borich is a performer based in New York City! Her love for theater started at a young age while watching classic movie musicals like Singing in the Rain and White Christmas, and she was most recently seen in Theater Under The Stars’s production of The Little Mermaid in Houston, TX! As a champion of diversity, Delphi especially loves Disney roles because they have such a wide audience of both children and adults alike, and give her a chance to create a princess role that shows self-sufficiency, intelligence, and strength! Read on to learn more about Delphi Borich and what makes her an Amazing Asias in the Arts!
Francesca Calo is a performer and voice actress based in NYC! As the child of parents in the film industry, she grew up watching their projects unfold. After her father enrolled her in acting classes at The Academy of Dramatic Arts, Calo developed an interest in the Arts and pursued her craft professionally by studying at the New York Stage and Film/Powerhouse Program, and Moscow Art Theater, later graduating with a BFA from Vassar College. Her work includes starring along Sandra Bullock in Ocean’s 8, Mare of Easttown with Kate Winslet, Cheng Chen in Seven Knights 2, and Pokemon: Sun and Moon! Aside from performing, Calo has studied Tae Kwon Do since kindergarten to become a practicing 2nd Degree Black Belt, loves baking and learning languages (and can speak conversational Spanish and Japanese!) enjoys Wasabi Kit Kats and TTRPG (like Dungeons and Dragons). The 3 takeaways she has for young artists? “ Take classes and learn as much as you can in the fields you are interested in, even if it has nothing to do with the arts. Everyday life feeds into your artistic and creative worlds as well, so the more you explore, the more you live your life. Remember to thank those who helped you, and be kind to everyone on set, in the studio, etc.”
Read on to learn more about Francesca Calo and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Angel Yau is a performer and comedian based in Queens, NY. She started with xanga (an online journal/blog) in high school to provide herself with an outlet for her thoughts, and went on to make a start in her professional career at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in both LA and NYC! Now, Yau’s work has been featured on the BBC (An Asian American Family’s Taboo) and Amazon (Soojung Dreams of Fiji). She can be found on Youtube for her stop-motion film, and onstage with Azn PoP Comedy! Yau’s advice to young artists is to “just do it,” leave second guessing and the desire to reach perfection aside, and to tell their own authentic stories – after all, “the world just needs to hear voices that are not from straight white men!” Read on to learn more about Angel Yau and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Jinna Kim is an actress based in Charlotte, N.C – but that wasn’t her initial start in the Arts! Kim began as a classically trained violinist/violist before expanding her horizons to become a performer and studying at the University of Illinois and University of Virginia. Recently, she’s worked on her own short films, including Chinese Girl Wants Vote about suffragist Mabel Lee, which can be found in the Digital Public Library of America, as well as winning two local grants and earning eligibility for Screen Actors Guild membership! In addition to all of this, Kim developed mascot experience as - you guessed it - a dancing unicorn! Her advice to young artists is to stop counting rejections – as someone “rejected thousands of times… [she doesn’t] think about the odds” and welcomes each day as a new opportunity. Read on to learn more about Jinna Kim and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Morgan Holmstrom is a performer based in Vancouver. Initially, she wanted to pursue a medical career, and ended up pursuing a science degree in college, but now counts successes such as Skymedand Shadow of the Rougarou among her professional performance experience! Holmstrom got her start as a model at 19 when her agent recommended she attend an audition for a movie in Winnipeg -- which she booked! She studied at various studios for acting, including A.M.A.W. in Vancouver, and took up private coaching with Andrew McIlroy. Her experiences have led to her flying to the U.K. for a role, performing fight scenes, completing EMT training, canoeing on gorgeous rivers (and of course, shooting hoards of zombies), and is currently working on a script to “highlight the journey of growing up poly-racial” as a Red River Métis and Filipina woman. She advises young artists to understand that stability does not come with a performance career, but that they should “get involved” by “[taking] classes, [reading] books, and [having] fun while [they’re] doing it.” Read on to learn more about Morgan Holmstrom and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Yuuki Luna is a performer based in Los Angeles -- but you might know her as the English dub of Ji-Yeong in the hit Netflix seriesSquid Game! She got her start as a stage combat performer at a young age with festivals and shows in her local community, before going on to perform as a dancer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, both on the Cruise Line and at Disneyland. It was there that Yuuki truly felt “how much of an impact a performance can have on an audience and how it can inspire people to follow their dreams,” and solidified her desire to perform. After overcoming her anxieties and “standing in [her] power,” Yuuki found she was able to realize and celebrate any strengths and weaknesses within her, and balances her life with meditation, yoga, journaling, and a delicious homemade smoothie. Her advice to young artists? “Believe in your dreams and don't lose faith.” Read on to learn more about Yuuki Luna and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Kimberly Immanuel is a writer, choreographer, and performer based in New York City! Inspired by her older sister, she got her start in the world of dance as a child. After her first musical at the age of 12, she knew she’d found her future career path. After completing her education at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she’s been seen in productions such as The National Tour ofIrving Berlin’s White Christmas,the Off-Broadway productions ofThe FantasticksandPacific Overtures, and playing Peggy Sawyer in42nd Streetat The Ordway and Drury Lane Theatre, as well as her own show,Kim Loo Gets a Redo! Immanuel is also the current dance and fight captain, swing, and understudy for Eurydice & Fates 1 and 2 on The National Tour ofHadestown! She encourages young artists to “work hard, be [themselves], and take everything that comes [their] way as a learning opportunity,” as well as “be kind to [themselves] and everyone around [them].” Read on to learn more about Kimberly Immanuel and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Mayu Isom is a member of the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet based in Texas! She first fell in love with music in elementary school on the flute -- after hearing her school’s top symphony perform Tchaikovksy’s 4th Symphony in F minor, she discovered an interest in the oboe that lead to her pursuing a career with it professionally (where she’s had the opportunity to perform the very solo that inspired her several times)! After attending Indiana University for her Bachelor’s, Rice University for her Master’s, and Boston University for her Performer’s Diploma, Isom won her place in the company of the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet! Offstage, she is “obsessed with all things culinary” -- cooking and baking provide her with opportunities to try new things and enjoy them with those she loves, and most recently, with an escape from the monotony of quarantine. Isom advises young artists to “have the confidence and willingness to take risks and make mistakes,” and to take chances on finding new opportunities, despite the fear of rejection, because each of those nos makes room for the door to open for a yes. Read on to learn more about Mayu Isom and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Mariko is a cellist based in fabulous Las Vegas! As a child, Mariko was inspired by a children’s book that featured a cello-playing bear, and asked her parents for lessons. At the age of 17, she made the decision to turn her passion into her career, pursued a degree from the Tokyo University of Arts, and made the shift to playing professionally. After performing as the first Japanese cellist in Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jackson Immortal Tour (with some members of MJ’s original band!), she made the decision to stay in the United States, and has since played for Madonna’s Madame X On Tour, a Prince tribute at the T-Mobile Arena, Cirque’s Zumanity, and the rock band STARSET, as well as created and released her own album entitled “Artemis”! Offstage, she’s found a passion for ballet barre conditioning, and supports Room to Read, “a nonprofit for children’s literacy and girls’ education across Asia and Africa.” Her advice for young artists? “Listen to your heart, follow your passion, and the results will follow you.” Read on to learn more about Mariko and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Belinda Allyn is a performer based in the suburbs of New Jersey. It took one theatre camp in high school for her to catch the acting bug, and went on to land her first acting gig in the resident company at Forestburgh Playhouse. Upon her graduation from Oklahoma City University, Allyn booked a job with the Disney Cruise Line, and has expanded her resume since! Her favorite roles include Belle in Beauty and the Beastat Paper Mill Playhouse, Imelda Marcos (understudy) in Here Lies Loveat Seattle Rep, Maria in West Side Storyat Paper Mill Playhouse, and of course, Allegianceand Once Upon a One More Timeon Broadway! Allyn advises young artists to “ground [themselves] in genuine relationships and hobbies/jobs/activities that [they] enjoy that aren’t related to pursuing a career in the arts” (Allyn herself was a band kid before theatre!), and to understand that when things don’t work out, it’s because something else is on the horizon. Read on to learn more about Belinda Allyn and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Xiaoxiao Cao is a dancer and businesswoman based in New York City. She started her ballet training at the age of three, and left to attend a school in Guangzhou to hone her skills as a young artist. Now, she’s danced with companies such asSuzanne Farrell Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and Boston Ballet in world-class theatres like the Lincoln Center in NYC, Kennedy Center in D.C., and National Performing Arts in Beijing, China -- but you might recognize her from the ballet company of Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera! On top of all this, Cao runs her own dancewear business, where her designs have graced the cover of Dance Magazine and have been sold in 12 countries across the globe. Her advice to rebound from failure? “Think positive and never give up. Keep working on it until [you] make it.”Read on to learn more about Xiaoxiao Cao and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Riza Takahashi is a performer based in New York City! Her passion for musical theatre emerged at the age of 4 when her mother enrolled her in a studio in Japan. Her resume now includes some of the most iconic shows in history from her time in regional theatre, including Mamma Mia!, How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying, Spelling Bee, The King and I, Mary Poppins, Spamalot, and more! In addition to this, Takahashi made her Broadway debut as an original cast member for Mean Girlson Broadway! Offstage, she fly fishes (a skill she picked up in quarantine!), teaches private lessons and workshops on a platform called “Broadway to Japan,” and founded Celebrate Asian Joy, “an organization committed to support and celebrate AAPI theater artists, filmmakers, and musicians to tell their stories through arts” that just released a new music video, “I Choose Joy!” Her advice to young artists? “Don’t be afraid to be who you are! You are already enough.”Read on to learn more about Riza Takahashi and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Sarah Di is a multidisciplinary artist based in Pittsburgh, PA. Initially, Di set out to become a dermatologist, but she discovered a love for filmmaking during her freshman year at Carnegie Mellon. Di has gone on to create an “sprawling interactive fiction game” and play theChinese zither (guzheng) atCarnegie Hall, and is currently working on a documentary-inspired film centered around her relationship with Chinese-American food from the early 2000s to the present. She also recently won the Asian American Film Lab's 72 hour Film Shootout award for Outstanding Female Content Creator for her submission filmed entirely in her bedroom using nothing but her Panasonic DMC-ZS100 and an Amazon basics tripod! In the future, Di aims to produce her very own feature-length film! Aside from telling meaningful stories and practicing self care, she advises young artists to put together a portfolio, and emphasizes the importance of “[having] physical evidence of [their] work, no matter how small.” Read on to learn more about Sarah Di and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!