Paula Berwanger is one of the most promising foreign actresses in Japan.
Paula’s parents married in Japan and, although she was born in Brazil, she moved to Japan at the age of one. Her father established a translation company in Tokyo in 1979 and her mother obtained her PhD in Anthropology from Tokyo’s Sophia University. As a child, she attended the International School of the Sacred Heart, in Hiroo, Shibuya, where she became a native-level speaker of English.
Today, she is involved in all areas of English-language entertainment in Japan. She played a recurring role, Julia, on NHK’s English-language drama Omotenashi No Kiso Eigo (おもてなしの基礎英語). Over the period of just one year in Japan, she worked for some of the main television channels (NHK, TV Nippon, TV Fuji, and TV Tokyo), in other popular shows such as Sekai Ichi Uketai Jugyou (世界一受けたい授業) and Unbelievable (アンビリバボー).
“Omotenashi” means hospitality. In the series, Julia (Berwanger), arrives in Japan on her own as a foreign young woman without knowing how to speak Japanese, and comes to stay at the “Omotenashi Hostel”. The hostel manager and owner’s daughter, Sanae (Karen Miyazaki), uses basic English to help her guests Julia, David (A.J. Hamilton), and Owen (Michael Filosa) get by in Japan. They learn how to use a soroban, throw a hot-pot party, go out for ramen, and learn how to write their names in the Japanese writing systems of hiragana and katakana. The DVD has recently been released by NHK and accompanies a book with the script, with which audiences can follow the story and learn English.
After the drama is aired commentators, led by half-British half-Japanese dual native Harry Sugiyama, replay the show and explain the English expressions.
She also performed an original play called Connections which was commissioned by the fashionable Wise Owl Hostels for its 2nd Anniversary. It was a one-woman-show inspired by Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice and there are rumors that there might be a second production in partnership with Wise Owl Hostels for 2019.
Within the independent bi-lingual film scene, she was the lead actress and executive-producer for the feature-length film Poster of a Girl. She also directed and produced a short film about the dichotomy of modernisation and tradition in Japan called Drops of Salt.
Behind the scenes, she became the current producer of the Japanese national tour of the International Theatre Company London, a British Shakespearean company that has been coming to Japan since 1994 with support of the British Council. She teaches acting techniques for adults at the Yokohama Theater Group, one of the oldest English language theater companies in Japan. She has coached established actors such as Jessica Robinson of Theater Iridescence, who played the title role in the bilingual production of Medea in Nagoya.
“Born in Brazil, she is a legitimate actress who trained academically at The William Esper Studio in New York. Her great acting abilities are well known among our NHK clients and she can adjust each working environment extremely well,” her representatives FreeWave commented, which is the best agency for foreign actors in Japan.