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.
“Kawaii” means cute or lovely in Japanese. Japanese pop culture and its iconic fashion are very famous around the world. A short film called “Graduation” is the story of three high school students, Echo, the student council president, Nona, a gangster, and Joi, a mysterious geek (Otaku). “Graduation” was screened at the Sacramento International Film Festival and received acclaim from critics.
Like the popular cartoon The Powerpuff Girls, each student in “Graduation” is represented by their own color. Echo (Joanna Cho) is red, Nona (Michelle Park) is blue, and Joi (Yui Shibata) is yellow. Yui Shibata, who played Joi in this film, was born and raised in Japan. Her incredible comedy skill moved casting directors, and she was cast as this charming, mysterious high schooler. Joi is very quiet but she has a kind heart and her inner power is gigantic. Quite often, the Japanese people are known to be reserved and quiet, but they can also be pretty tough and strong. Joi doesn’t speak much, but she offers a water bottle to Echo who was just knocked down and had a nervous breakdown. Joi comforts her, which demonstrates her kindness and empathy. Yui played this character Joi with deadpan humor, but she also adeptly portrayed the character's huge inner power. Audiences enjoy both the humor and heart in this character.
This film is well designed, with beautiful color combinations. Joi’s yellow glasses are cute, and add a little spice to this film. Don’t forget to check out her nice socks. It’s fun to explore “kawaii” Asian fashion.
Japan is famous for anime culture, and young Japanese girls are so becoming in their cute outfits. Yui is an authentic Japanese girl who went to high school in Japan. She also studied acting in the USA at Palomar College and California State University in Fullerton, where she received her BA in Theater Arts. She knows both Japanese and American cultures very well.
Yui became a well known theater-based actor in San Diego and Orange County in California, and then she moved to Los Angeles where she signed a contract with the Avant Artists agency in order to find more TV and film jobs. Since then, she has booked many comical and dynamic roles.
Yui established her acting career in the USA, and she is very popular among Japanese pop culture fans. However, we cannot just categorize her as a cute actor who came from Japan. She is a symbol of Asian actors and specializes as a crazy otaku comedienne. Her distinguished comedy skill makes audiences crack up even before she speaks.
She has just finished filming a new movie in which she has a lead role. She said this new part is very different from Joi in “Graduation” by being very energetic and powerful, yet quirky and crazy in a very good way.
We anxiously await her next work!
Sanae Ohno is one of the most talented photographers to emerge from Japan. Her background is quite unique, having first earned a veterinary physician's license and successfully practiced in that field. Now she is a professional photographer with an established career based in New York! She has been taking pictures at numerous fashion shows, live music scenes, and throughout the film industry. A long way from Japan and a lot different from veterinary medicine.
At the age of 16, Sanae went camping with Maasai people in Kenya. Her fascination with wild animals began with that experience, which led her to study medicine and become a veterinarian.
Interestingly, the Japanese bagpiper named "Ally" asked Sanae to take pictures of her live stage performances. Ally was also a veterinary physician and studied at the same school with Sanae!
After posting great pictures on social media, Blacko, a member of the Irish band "Johnsons Motorcar" saw them and sent a message requesting that Sanae also take pictures of his band on stage. She has been photographing Johnsons Motorcar's performances ever since.
One after another, Sanae’s incredible camera techniques became famous among musicians and she started to work with many talented artists such as Overground Acoustic Undergraound, HY, Kurei Yuki’s, to name a few. She was extremely touched by the enthusiasm of 8000 audience members during Japanese concerts and of course, after that, she could not stop taking pictures.
She is no longer working as a veterinarian, and instead enjoys a thriving career as an amazing photographer who now lives in the United States.
Sanae studied at New York Film Academy, and obtained an MBA (Media Management) from MCNY. She has been taking photos for more than 30 brands at NY Fashion Week biannually, and is currently active in film, as well. Her biggest credit so far is the Hallmark movie “Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane”
Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane
Sanae has also been very involved in theater productions. One of her most memorable works was “Anna May Wong, the actress who died a thousand deaths”. It was a live cinema style show and they performed almost like a sitcom with film equipment, and Sanae worked as a frame designer and 1st camera operator. Filming included a scene set 100 years ago.
Anna May Wong, the actress who died a thousand deaths.
Sanae is thrilled to work in the USA especially because there are so many talented females in the film industry here. She is passionate about taking pictures of “moving” and living things, animals, musicians, actors and many more. Most importantly, she hopes that people will be “moved” by her photographs and films. We cannot wait to see more from Sanae Ohno and we definitely expect to be moved!
Photos by Sanae Ohno
1: Kurei Yuki (Otodama 2018)
2: Johnsons Motorcar
3: NYFW Laquan Smith Runway
4: HY (Rock in Japan 2018)
5: Martin Johnson (Johnsons Motorcar/ Overground Acoustic Underground)
"Cosmo Life" May Issue features Victoria Beckham as a cover girl. You will learn all about nails with Salon Owner Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Polish Pioneer Dineh Mohajer and Trend setter Madeline Poole. In "Get the Look" section we will tell you about the hottest trends of these spring whereas in the "Music" you'll meet multitalented Sung Eun Choi. We love working to keep you up to date!
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