Brooke Ishibashi is an actress based in NYC. Born into a musically entertaining family with an opera and R&B background, she’s now developed and originated Cambodian Rock Band. (which played at South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the La Jolla Playhouse) and is now performing in Broadway’s revival of Into the Woods! When she’s not onstage, Ishibashi is the cofounder of Be An #ArtsHero, an arts advocacy and lobbying organization aimed towards providing relief to the Arts in America. Passionate about telling resonant stories exploring social justice, anti-racism, and trans-generational trauma, Ishibashi finds herself connected deeply to work that heals marginalized communities. Her advice for young artists? “Know your worth and always ask for more.” Read on to learn more about Brooke Ishibashi and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Brooke Ishibashi
Heritage: 4th generation Japanese American
Hometown: Orange, CA
Current City: NYC
Current project: Into the Woods on Broadway
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
Developed and originated Cambodian Rock Band (South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse).
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Know your worth and always ask for more.
How did you get your start?
Music and entertainment runs in the family: my paternal great grandmother was an opera singer in Japan; my maternal grandmother (Mary Kageyama Nomura) is known as "The Songbird of Manzanar," for when she was imprisoned during WWII in the Japanese incarceration camps. My parents met in the 1970's in my dad's R&B band and later founded a live music production company, and my sisters are both professional performers and writers.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
I co-founded a grassroots arts advocacy and lobbying organization called Be An #ArtsHero during the pandemic to push Congress to allocate proportionate relief to the Arts & Culture sector of America (BeAnArtsHero.com). Our work culminated in the first ever Congressional hearing on the whole of the Creative Economy, titled: "The Power, Peril, and Promise of the Creative Economy."
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Not tying my worth or value to the work I'm doing (or not doing). If you know who you are and what you bring to the table and you trust that, you'll hopefully endure less suffering. It's taken me 36 years to fulfill my childhood dream of "making it on Broadway" and as joyful and exciting as it may be, it does not make me any more worthy than I was before this golden opportunity.
Is where you are now where you thought you’d be?
Not at all. I'm eternally grateful for the setbacks and challenges along the way though, as I truly believe they led me to where I am now. I was recast in the two biggest projects of my life and as soul crushing as those experiences were, I know they redirected me to the people and opportunities that were meant to be in my life.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Trust yourself, love yourself, and have fun.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
Leading a hit TV series on a cable or streaming service!
What was your self care routine before the pandemic and how has that (as well as your views of self care) changed throughout the pandemic?
I'm a lot more aware of boundaries and honoring and enforcing them for myself. I'm definitely a people pleaser and it takes a lot of conscious effort for me to respect my own boundaries.
Since so many of us spent a lot of time isolated during the pandemic, how has that experience specifically changed your creative or preparation process or your outlook on life?
It absolutely affects my sense of gratitude – most of my friends and colleagues have not returned to full-time work as artists and I know I'm one of the lucky few. I'm also keenly aware of inequities in our work structures and am actively working to dismantle systemic oppression. I've learned a lot from Nicole Johnson, founder of The Harriet Tubman Effect (harriettubmaneffect.com) and encourage everyone to educate themselves to be a part of lasting change.
As a storyteller, how do you pick the stories you want to work on and what goes into putting a story together, whether on stage, page, or film?
I'm passionate about exploring anti-racism, social justice, and trans-generational trauma in my work. I'm also drawn to work that has the capacity to help people heal and connect to marginalized communities.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by the demand for AAPI stories and talent in mainstream media. Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi, and Everything Everywhere All At Once (among others) have been game changers for the community and I'm ecstatic to see the doors swinging open for us all. It's our time!
To find out more about Brooke Ishibashi, please visit her at:
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok: @BeAnArtsHero
Instagram, TikTok: @IntoTheWoodsBroadway
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