Rumi Oyama is a multidisciplinary artist based (and ex-fortune teller!) in NYC. She got her start dancing at 15 years old in high school, taking up part-time jobs to support her dancing and singing lessons. After getting her B.A. in law, she went on to make her Broadway debut in Allegiance, starred in Running for Grace streaming on Amazon Prime, and is currently working on a new film, Spirit Box! In addition to performing, Oyama founded her own film company, Kuma Dakko Productions, to “unite people despite race, gender, class and sexual orientation.” Her advice to young artists? “Don't be afraid to be “you”. You don’t have to shape yourself to please other people.” Read on to learn more about Rumi Oyama and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Rumi Oyama
Heritage: Japanese American
Hometown: Hiroshima, Japan
Current City: New York City
Current project: Spirit Box (film)
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
Musical: Allegiance on Broadway
Movie: Running for Grace (now on Amazon Prime)
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Don't be afraid to be “you”. You don’t have to shape yourself to please other people.
How did you get your start?
I started to learn to dance when I was 15, which is a very late start as a dancer. Because my parents were against performing arts, I couldn’t take any dance or acting classes when I was little. So, I chose a high school that had dance activities. Then I started many part time jobs to take ballet, jazz, modern, and singing lessons.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
I have so many favorite moments, but I think making my Broadway debut in Allegiance was such a precious moment for me.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
When I was younger, I had to quit performing and went to University to get a B.A. in law. Then I took a job at the biggest HR company in Japan and worked crazy hours. This was the darkest time in my life because I wasn’t doing anything art related. As long as I’m doing something creative, I think the challenges are part of the joy.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
I have a film production company called Kuma Dakko Productions. KUMA (くま ) means "bear". DAKKO (抱っこ) means "hug". BEAR HUG. Our goal is to unite people despite race, gender, class and sexual orientation.
Who do you admire?
I have so many. Elliott Masie, Cathy Masie, my sister, all of my friends, George Takei, Emily Kuroda, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Bob Richard, Baayork Lee...and more.
Do you have any mentors?
Elliott and Cathy Masie. They are Broadway producers and are always there to guide me in the right direction.
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I always wanted to be in the arts, but I had to detour and study law to make my parents and society happy. But if I look back, going to study at a university, getting a job and working in a non-performing environment helped me to have more range in my acting and writing. So in the end, nothing was in vain.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
When I was about 8 years old.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between gigs to pay the bills?
I used to work as a fortune teller in Japan.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Just keep going.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Learning Japanese traditional dance, Karate, and sword fighting. Learning something from my heritage was so crucial and helpful.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
I’m planning to create more films. But musicals are always my home. So I would like to go back to it someday.
How do you deal with writer's block?
Gaze at the void.
Do you have a favorite book/screenplay/script?
A Wild Sheep Chase.Dance Dance Dance. Both are by Haruki Murakami.
When you are creating a story, what is your process for putting a storyline together?
I always make the structure of the story first. Creating the flow is important for me. Then, I let myself swim in it.
What inspires you?
People who are beautiful inside.
To find out more about Rumi Oyama, please visit her at:
Personal Website: http://www.rumioyama.com/
Kuma Dakko Productions Website: https://www.kumadakkoproductions.com/
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