Amazing Asians in the Arts

Amazing Asians in the Arts: Momoko Sugai

March 19, 2022

Momoko Sugai is a performer (and Pisces!) based in Pasadena. At the age of 5, she developed her lifelong love of dance through tap classes in Japan, and her commitment to theatre through a production of Annie at 11 years old! She went on to graduate from Fullerton College and acquire impressive credits such as Allegiance on Broadway and Mamma Mia! at the La Mirada Theater! Her favorite part of the industry? Traveling and meeting new people – be it through living in a cast house with seasoned industry professionals or performing on a cruise ship and waking up in incredible new locales each day! She advises young artists to keep in mind that everyone’s needs are different, which makes their needs as creatives different, to trust themselves and their process, and above all, to “keep doing what [they] love!” Read on to learn more about Momoko Sugai and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: DeAnna Choi

March 12, 2022

DeAnna is an actress based in New York City. Her artistic career began at the age of 7 covering songs from The Little Mermaid in her laundry room, and led her to take on principal roles in high school. After studying at the Berklee College of Music, she went on to join the national tour of The King and I as Lady Thiang and become a featured Soprano Soloist in the Carnegie Hall premiere of Christopher Tin’s Calling All Dawns. Currently, Choi is working on The Emperor’s Nightingale off-Broadway, and is working on a Christmas EP for 2022 with two concerts in London and in Madagascar lined up! She also makes time giving back to her community with the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre (a non-profit with a mission to provide performing opportunities to diverse actors. Her advice to young artists? “Seek out opportunities to perform live, as this will be your best training ground to put your tools to the test.” Read on to learn more about DeAnna Choi and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Ashley Chiu

March 05, 2022

Ashley Chiu is an actress based in New York. Her artistic journey began at the age of 7 while watching a production of The Sound of Music in her community. She took up dance classes, which lead to formal theatre training at  NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she received a BFA in Drama. After performing in Jimmy Kimmel’s 2019 live show, she’s about to make her Broadway debut in Once Upon a One More Time, a new musical featuring the songs of Britney Spears set to premiere this November! Her goals for future projects? To make representation in mainstream media the norm. Chiu advises young artists to “[be the] bravest, boldest, and best way to make a path for [themselves] as an artist is to be nothing but yourself.” Read on to learn more about Ashley Chiu and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Jay Adana

February 26, 2022

Jay Adana is a songwriter based in fabulous Las Vegas. Though a middle school play piqued her interest in the Arts, it wasn’t until Adana saw Bernadette Peters’ performance in Into The Woods that she decided to pursue a career in entertainment. After receiving her BFA at SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory and attending several other schools for music writing and production, she’s gone on to win the Richard Rodgers Award for The Loophole, the Vivace Award for Vera and the Battle of New Seoul, and The Jonathan Larson Grant, and has had her work produced on the prominent stages of La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, New World Stages, and more. Her advice for young artists? “Take business classes and listen to your gut always.” An advocate for creating a broad foundation, Adana recommends budding performers and creators get as much experience in as many disciplines as possible – and to get comfortable asking for help. Read on to learn more about Jay and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Keiko Elizabeth

February 19, 2022

Keiko is an educator turned actress based in Los Angeles. Originally at Stanford University for pre-med biology, she discovered a passion for teaching that led to co-writing and producing a student’s play. Keiko felt moved by the production’s power, and went on to apply and become accepted into Cal State Fullerton’s MFA program. Now, Keiko stars on popular streaming services such as Showtime’s “City on a Hill,” and has produced a documentary (“Herselves”) for The New Yorker! In addition to her impressive resume, Keiko serves on Carry the Future’s advisory board to provide aid to refugee families. She advises young artists to “focus on developing [their] own authenticity”  and to ask questions that allow for self-expression and foster imagination. Read on to learn more about Keiko Elizabeth and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Mapuana Makia

February 12, 2022

Mapuana Makia is an actress primarily based in L.A., Vancouver, and Hawaii! She discovered her love for the Arts in kindergarten after seeing a production and wanting to join the actors onstage. She went on to graduate from the Hawaii Pacific University with a degree in Theatre, and booked her first film, Aloha (where she got to meet Emma Stone!). Now, she stars in Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. as Noelani Nakayama, and has also appeared in Two Sentence Horror Stories and FOX’s Fantasy Island. She values the connections and collaborations she’s made along the way, finding those elements the most comforting in such a tumultuous career path. Makia’s advice to young artists? To “look into the business side as aggressively as craft… [and] find what you can do to make a comfortable living while pursuing the work,” as well as seeking out background and student film work to gain experience and find outlets and friends to support your mental health. Read on to learn more about Mapuana Makia and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Minami Yusui

February 05, 2022

Minami Yusui is an actress and creative based in New York. She pursued formal theatre training in NYC, where she gained her first musical experience as a Performance Intern with Maine State Music Theatre, which provided her with a foundation of the Arts across all departments (and provided her with a lifelong love for the industry). After 88 auditions (yes, she counted!), Yusui finally booked her very first professional show! Since then, she’s served as the Assistant Director and translator for the Japanese premiere production of Spring Awakening, and Love Life at New York City Center’s Encores, and has produced a Broadway Jazz album (Playful) with her husband, Dan. Now, Yusui is the Dance Captain for the National Tour of My Fair Lady! She advises young artists to “Always remember the moment that inspired [them]. It’ll help [them] stay grounded and also lift [them] through difficult times.” Read on to learn more about Minami Yusui and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Larissa Lam

January 29, 2022

Larissa Lam is “a creative force in music, film and TV” and “a voice that inspires and empowers others” based in Pasadena! She began her journey as the chief financial officer of a record company shortly after graduating with a degree in Business Economics from UCLA, and joined a group with that label (Nitro Praise). Since then, the “Singing CFO” has written music for The Oprah Winfrey Show, released her own albums, sung the national anthem for the Lakers (twice!), given TEDx talks, hosts a podcast (Love, Discovery and Dim Sum) with her husband, Baldwin Chiu, and produced documentaries – the latest being Far East Deep South, which won her the 2021 Mary Pickford Award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking! Lam’s advice to young artists is to “commit to being in the Arts and doing the work that needs to be done to be a pro at it… [the Arts] need the same investment in time, gaining skills, and experience as… other professions”. Read on to learn more about Larissa Lam and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Lainie Sakakura

January 22, 2022

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 Fosse and 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 Broadway and 60th Anniversary of Flower Drum Song for 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! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Delphi Borich

January 15, 2022

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!
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Francesca Calo

January 07, 2022

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 8Mare 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! 

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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Angel Yau

January 01, 2022

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! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Jinna Kim

December 25, 2021

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! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Morgan Holmstrom

December 18, 2021

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 Skymed and 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! 
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Amazing Asians in the Arts: Yuuki Luna

December 11, 2021

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 series Squid 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! 
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