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the scene

HARA MUSEUM

OPENING OF YOSHITOMO NARA-FROM THE DEPTH OF MY DRAWER


Top: Toshio Hara, museum director
middle from left: Yoshitomo Nara; Takashi Murakami
Bottom: Yoko Nakamura, press officer for the museum

PHOTOS BY DAN GRUNEBAUM


star struck

Sister act

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 paragliding."
Read more about Southwick at janica.tv.

Photo credit: Chris Betros



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