Yuko Torihara is an actress based in NYC, but she’s tried just about everything in-between offstage – from wardrobe styling, photography, producing, set design, and more across the UK, US, and Japan! Over the pandemic, she directed a short film (Chinatown Beat) in collaboration with prominent Asian artists (such as Henry Chang and Corky Lee), was recently seen in the new Starbucks Reserve campaign, and currently stars as Miko Kaplan in the hit Netflix show, The Watcher. Her advice to young artists? “Work on cultivating a solid and deep self love, a healthy relationship with yourself… Keep on saying yes to change and transformation, as you don’t know where you will end up.” Read on to learn more about Yuko Torihara and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Yuko Torihara
Current City: NYC
Current project: I play Miko Kaplan in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix show The Watcher. I’m in the new Starbucks Reserves campaign, and I am in development to direct a project.
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
I love Chinatown Beat, a short film I directed during the pandemic where I got to collaborate with novelist Henry Chang, the art of Corky Lee and a bunch of other Asian artists I respect like Geoff Lee, Grayson Chin and Perry Yung. This project was a spontaneous combustion, made so quickly, although each of us were in a particular mindset and needing a creative outlet in Jan 2021. This project enveloped the spirit of creativity so specifically to NYC and I’m proud to have been part of its creation. Despite not having any expectations on where we would show the film, the New Yorker picked it up and wrote a nice article about us so I couldn’t have been happier (film and articlehere).
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Work on cultivating a solid and deep self love, a healthy relationship with yourself. This journey will make you feel vulnerable, but this rawness is what makes us storytellers and artists, and it is the juice that connects us to our audiences. As long as you have good self esteem and you are in a good place mentally, you could learn to endure the highs and lows and take the leap to fully enjoy the ride. Keep on saying yes to change and transformation, as you don’t know where you will end up!
How did you get your start?
I played a pharmacist in a Walgreens commercial!
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
For The Watcher I did a scene with Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale and Michael Nouri. We were put in holding in a tiny upstairs bedroom in a suburban home upstate that barely fit 4 cast chairs and one of them was mine. The entire experience was so surreal. And after a little banter Bobby said “hey guys, do you want to rehearse?” which made me realize they are just actors (human beings) like me and then I felt like I was back in acting class. During camera rehearsal we improvised a bunch and I ended up telling Bobby’s character to fuck off (which was appropriate for the scene but no one was expecting the newbie Asian actress to go there, so everyone started bursting out laughing, which was fun!). My role ended up getting cut a bunch but the whole experience felt blessed. And the fact that Naomi, the cast and crew and everyone at Netflix were so wonderful set the bar high for whatever is to come.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Continuous faith in your own journey no matter what it looks like from the outside. Every journey looks, feels different and that’s what makes yours unique.
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I’ve always wanted to be in the arts and have been now for a long time, doing different things within the industry. I have been or at least tried everything. Wardrobe styling, HMU, PA, set design, bts photography, producing, directing and assisting other creatives. It took me a while to finally declare that I want to be in front of the camera even though I grew up doing theater extensively in Japan, UK and the US. I think I have such a varied experience, background with influences from each place I’ve lived that has contributed to a unique perspective.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Baby steps make every huge accomplishment. Never give up on yourself and continue to learn in new ways. Give yourself a break every now and then, and enjoy the process! The beauty of working in the arts that you can keep learning and expanding and you never know what would come handy when.
To find out more about Yuko Torihara, please visit her at:
Social Media: @yukotorihara
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