Interviewed by Kate Anderson-Song
My name is Mayumi Yoshida and I’m an actress/director/writer from Tokyo and Vancouver. Mayumi is pronounced “my-you-me” not “me-oo-me” lol I think the internet has confused me with another Mayumi Yoshida who I think is a voice actress in Japan? So, no I am not the Mayumi Yoshida who was on Power Rangers in the 80’s. Hahaha!
Have you always known what you wanted to pursue?
I did, but it was a scary thought to admit. It was like a shameful secret because I was told I wasn’t pretty enough or slim enough to be an actress in Japan, so I was scared to want it. I think when I was 12, I knew very clearly though that I wanted to work in the TV and Film industry in any capacity I could. Then I started theatre and acting brought me so much joy, so acting became my focus.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to my parents. I know that sounds typical, but they’ve really been role models. My dad was a journalist so he would inspire me to think big and look out in the world and not just within Japan. Which is why I moved out to pursue acting in North America. My mother always tells me to live life with no regrets and stick to it. Sure I’d have disagreements (sorry Mom, haha!) but they always wanted the best for me and ever since I moved out here (Vancouver) all by myself, I’ve come to appreciate everything they do for me and the family.
Professionally speaking, I want to give a shout out to Isa Dick Hackett who was our EP on The Man in the High Castle. She has been my biggest supporter in the last 2 years and I feel so empowered by her words and actions. You can be in a powerful position and still be kind, compassionate, creative and a kick-ass mom. Her love for everyone that surrounds her inspires me to be a better leader.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Don’t let your big dreams scare you.
What is your go-to coffee shop order?
Vanilla Latte or London Fog. I love Vanilla.
How has your experience as an Asian actress in the industry been? Do you have any advice for aspiring Asian performers?
It has definitely changed in the last 5 years. When I first started after film school, it was really rough. Roles were stereotypical and I didn’t see myself in any mainstream media. High Castle was a huge shift, but a significant change in me happened when I started directing and writing. Being able to write a story you want to tell and participate as an actor was a powerful feeling. I recommend any aspiring Asian performers to write yourself a good role, because we’re still in a place where we need to educate people on what kinds of roles we are capable of playing and how these stories matter to not just our community. But don’t make films that are about “LOOK HOW WELL I CAN ACT”. No offense, but I hate those because it feels very indulgent. Always story first. Find a strong story that resonates with you on a very personal level, and then your connection to the story will naturally show in your acting.
How did moving all around the world through your childhood affect your outlook as an Asian woman? As an actress?
I don’t think I saw myself as “Asian Woman” until people pointed it out to me after I started auditioning. I mean, on an unconscious level I’m sure I had inferiority anxiety being non-white because I was totally brain washed by 80’s/90’s Hollywood (which are all movies/TVs I love). But I thought of myself as kind of a global citizen, maybe because I grew up in different places and was in a school with a landscape that looked like the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland. Everyone is different and that’s normal. I actually remember feeling so out of place when I went back to school in Japan when I was 11, and we were all Japanese. We all had to wear the same yellow cap to school and carry the same backpack. I felt like I didn’t belong there even though that was my ethnicity and “home”. I think it made me want to be somewhere or someone different even more and that may have been why I enjoyed being an actor. So I can be outrageously different from myself and it’s allowed.
How do you take care of yourself? What is your favorite self-care practice?
I adopted a dog with my partner last year and she’s been a huge part of my mental health I think. She reminds me of the importance of daily routine and also at the end of the day, quality of life isn’t just about work and success. My guilty pleasure is retail therapy, and I love shoes. That counts as self-care right? Haha
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment – either personal or work-related?
I made a decision 3 years ago that I’m not going to wait for someone to hand it to me, I will go and figure out a route myself. That’s been my mantra now. I AM an overachiever (WINK) so I definitely love how much my films have escalated my career. I am also proud of how my stories have touched people. My first short “AKASHI”(https://vimeo.com/215466247) was on Air Canada for a year or so, and I got random messages on Facebook from people who saw my short on the airplane. That’s so kind of them to take their time to message me, so I was already moved by all this! So one of them was someone who was on their way back home to attend their father’s funeral and they stumbled upon my short. They told me how much it hit close to home and they were sobbing on the airplane. God, I cried reading that message. It’s such a special feeling, especially because I wrote, acted and directed it. It’s not easy wearing many hats, but the reward you feel later is incomparable.
10. What is next for you?
I am developing my short “AKASHI” into a feature film. It’ll be my first feature film which is super exciting! The Man in the High Castle Season 4 is out on Amazon Prime now, so go check out how the epic series ends and catch my character Crown Princess kick some butt! Haha. She’s such a powerful character, I was so lucky that I got to live her again. I have some short films I directed that will be screening at film festivals but all details and latest news can be found on @immyyoume on my Insta, Twitter and Facebook. Hugs!!
Mayumi Yoshida is an accomplished actress, writer, director, and producer from Tokyo and Vancouver. She can be seen as The Crown Princess in the highly anticipated final season of Amazon Prime Video’s Emmy award-winning series, The Man in The High Castle, which premiered on November 15th. Beyond her work on MITHC, Mayumi has an extensive background in theatre, has written numerous plays, and has made 5 short films and altogether has won over 20 awards worldwide. Mayumi recently received 2019’s Newcomer Award at Vancouver Women in Film Festival’s Spotlight Awards for her success in multiple fields. You can keep up with Mayumi @immyyoume on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and on her website: www.immyyoume.com.
Kate Anderson-Song is on the editorial team at Overachiever Magazine. She is a NYC-based writer, artist, and performer, with a background in cinema studies from New York University. You can find Kate on Instagram @k8andersonsong and @thek8pages, and you can find more of her work (and tons of other great stuff) here at Overachiever Magazine.