Today we’d like to introduce you to Akira Tashi.
Akira, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started writing when I was about ten as a way to express myself because I was very shy. My first piece was about friendship and it was published in the school paper when I was 12. Being an extremely shy child, my grandmother enrolled me in theatrical classes. I came out of my shell and gravitated towards acting, a career I had never considered. I got into commercials for awhile. Shortly after, I enrolled in coaching classes with Alexia Robinson and appeared in several independent films: Stray (2017), Where the Water Runs (2018), The Debt Collector (2012), and I Hate my Neighbor (2019) to name a few.
I held onto writing and had the opportunity to write a commercial for my acting coach’s website. This led to referrals to write thesis and short films. Meanwhile, I was still acting and I found myself on the set of Two and a Half Men. I had the opportunity to sit with the director and fell in love with the art of telling stories from behind the camera. I enrolled in film school and instantly began to hone my directing skills while further developing my writing.
I’m now entering my third and final year of film school and have built a cohesive and supportive network of amazing cohorts. I interned for Netflix and Paramount Pictures and shadowed the Script Supervisor and Costume Designer on 13 Reasons Why, interned at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and worked three weeks as a liaison for the Sundance Film Festival.
Had I not been brought up in a structured environment, challenged early-on, by peers and life itself, I don’t think I would be the established writer and flourishing director that I am today. I have no destination; I’m simply on a journey.
Has it been a smooth road?
Every obstacle that I have encountered in life has made me the young woman that I am today. Being in a white male dominated society, there are always struggles as a woman of color. I’ve struggled with being respected on sets, being taken seriously, and finding my footing in a business that caters to men and discards women when they reach a certain age. Every “no”, closed door and entitled peer has only reinforced and strengthened my fearlessness, drive and resilience. There will always be people and things that fail you, projects that fall through and long hours wasted. No feeling can outshine the days you’re dealt that winning hand.
So I take each experience for what it is. Good or bad. It’s just that… An experience. There is no failure. You either succeed or you learn.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
First and foremost, I’m a writer and director. I write and direct all of my own work. I also excel in script supervising, 1st assistant directing, and editing.
I have just written and am now directing a film called #TRENDING. It’s a story about holding onto your racial identity and will begin filming in May of this year.
I think the thing that sets my work apart is that I have a unique sense of humor and always try to find it in dark and true places. I also write about things that I find troubling and that affects me in our world past and present that I believe should be talked about more. My willingness to create rhythmically with other creative beings take my films to a special place. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a plethora of extraordinary talent and support and for this I am grateful.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is amazing and is definitely the playground for anyone wanting into the entertainment industry. It’s a city for tenacious driven souls that have thick skin and patience. It’s all about networking and deciphering authenticity from the rehearsed to in order to survive, and when we do survive, it will be more than worth it.
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All images taken by Fido Wu