Yuko Kudo is a multi-dimensional artist and creator based in New York City. She uses art and storytelling to create community, while reminding people they are not alone, and uses her personal life experiences to bring awareness to diversity and inclusion, immigration, women’s rights and mental wellness. Yuko is the Founder and Artistic Director of the "I AM" Series Global (2017-19), which showcases artists' talent within themes focused on claiming one's various, complex identities and belonging. She has appeared in Forbes, TIME and other media outlets through her work as a photographer and she was a finalist for the Roger Sturtevant Musical Theatre Award for the Actor’s Equity Association. Her latest artistic creation includes a self-produced musical SOLO show entitled, "I Came Here To Be Love," focused on belonging. Yuko also has facilitated the creation of collaborative educational spaces that spotlight the intersection of art and activism. Read on to learn more about Yuko and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Yuko Kudo
Hometown: Aomori (青森), Japan
Current City: New York, NY
“Untapped Storytellers,” a documentary series about artist and human resilience. (www.untappedstorytellers.com)
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?:
“I Came Here To Be Love” (One-Human-Musical-Show that premiered in Feb 2021); Untapped Storytellers; “I AM” Series
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Tell your story. A story that only YOU can tell. Find people who can remind you how awesome you are when you are at the lowest point in your life.
How did you get your start?
I started playing piano when I was three years old. I moved to the US to pursue my art in 2003, then moved to NYC to pursue Broadway in 2013. But, my actual career as of right now, as an artist and social entrepreneur started in 2017, when I started curating the “I AM” Series, where I started hosting a monthly event for BIPOC/LGBTQ/Immigrant artists to amplify their voice. That started incorporating more educational and advocacy components. And led me to where I am now, where I can create my own art and curate space for other artists.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
Being able to work with Broadway Legend Baayork Lee, as a part of National Asian Artist Project Broadway Chorus. That was epic for a small-town girl from Japan. And being able to share my work with my family in Japan for the first time when I worked for New Musical “Poupelle of Chimney Town” in 2020 that was pretty epic. That was the moment that I saw the beauty and the power of virtual production.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
When I was pursuing the “traditional” way of trying to become an actor, I thought being who I was - Asian 4’10”, Immigrant, Female - was the biggest challenge. But now that I’m creating my own work in the field of art and social change, those are my biggest assets. Right now, a big challenge is always giving myself permission to do something that I think it’s crazy.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I knew how to ride unicycle (I hope I can still do it!) and I love baking.
Who do you admire?
Yuri Kochiyama and Lisa Russell
Do you have any other “special skills?”
I’m a classically trained pianist and Yoga teacher, Reiki Practitioner
Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?
Listen to my “Love+Live+Life” Podcast, a conversation series about Art + People + Social Good
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
You are always going to feel different, feel alone, feel lost. You have to CHOOSE to believe that you belong.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Human first no matter what. Empathy and Team building, communication skills are the most important thing.
Where did you study at?
I never finished college. I took a bunch of classes. I learned by doing it and figuring it out.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I’m an immigrant (with all my family still in Japan), female, and have no college degree. The fact that I’m still here in the US living in NYC - that’s an accomplishment.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
End Exploitation of artists. Stop “struggling artists” myth; Create infrastructure to activate my hometown in Japan through arts and sustainability.
What do you love most about what you do?
It’s always changing. There’s no other rules or formulas, except to always show up. I must constantly reinvent myself and learn new skill sets, meet new people and unlearn old stuff that’s not serving me. It’s not roses and sunshine, but I LOVE it.
Do you have any self-care practices you do to stay focused and sane?
My morning ritual is EVERYTHING. Journaling, Yoga, Prayer. Daily walk. These are my absolute essentials.
What inspires you?
Awesome humans in my life. My family both by blood and by choice. God.
If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?
I had an ugly cry on my kitchen floor with my roommate next to me. That’s the beginning of my original piece and how my path as an “official” songwriter started.
To find out more about Yuko, please visit her at:
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