OPENING OF YOSHITOMO NARA-FROM THE DEPTH
OF MY DRAWER
PHOTOS BY DAN GRUNEBAUM
Japanese children have taken to Utah-born Janica Southwick
in a big way
by Chris Betros
When you talk to Janica Southwick about all the activities
she is involved in, it's hard to believe she's just one person.
The former Miss Utah Teen and 1st runner-up for Miss Teenager
America is now a popular personality in Japan, especially
among children. Not only is she an actress, radio commentator,
talk show host, model, announcer, event organizer and author,
she also does ventriloquism, is a spokesperson for a riding
academy, serves as US Coordinator for Kid's Earth Fund, and
is the PR manager for NSBrands, a cosmetic distribution and
brand creation company that partners with the Shu Uemura family.
"Every day is a different day. Sometimes, I might have
four things in one day up until midnight," says Southwick,
25. Her main TV program currently is NHK Eigorian, a popular
children's show aired twice weekly, with plan in the works
to create a new children's show in English with Japanese backing.
Fluent in Japanese, Southwick is often besieged by kids and
their moms whenever she appears at a shopping center or event.
"They want to play games or they want me to be their
big sister," she says.
Southwick, whose stepmother is Japanese, first came to Japan
when she was 11 and spent about five months at a Japanese
school. At Sophia University, she studied comparative cultures
which led her into children's entertainment and variety shows.
"I'm not a naturally funny person, though," she
adds. "Maybe I'm funny in Japanese... I found it is actually
easier to be funny in a foreign language. The audience laughs
anyway just because you are making such a big effort."
While her work keeps her in Japan, Southwick hasn't forgotten
her roots. She is a goodwill ambassador for Salt Lake City
and last month took 30 Japanese children and their mothers
to Utah for a week of homestays. And Southwick has tips for
adults as well. Every Wednesday, she holds a seminar for Japanese
women to help them gain confidence. "I'm a certified
image consultant, so I teach them walking, makeup, mannerisms,
conversation and so on," she says.
With her hectic lifestyle, Southwick has very little time
off. "I play a little piano. I don't eat in much, but
if there is a party, I'll cook. My mother is a baker and gave
me some good recipes, while my stepmother taught me how to
cook Japanese." Still, Southwick doesn't have quite enough
on her plate. "I'd like to learn Chinese, salsa and go
Read more about Southwick at janica.tv.
Photo credit: Chris Betros