Rei of sunshine
Rei Kikukawa spreads her wings from TV star to refugee
By Chris Betros
For someone who doesnt get much
of a chance to speak English, Rei Kikukawa does an excellent
job. The 27-year-old actress and TV personality is in peak
form for her first interview with English media. Her smile
is infectious and her manner charming as she sits down after
hosting her regular Sunday night NTV news program Bankisha.
Through her TV work, movies, event appearances, product endorsements
and now her two-year assignment as a special supporter for
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
Kikukawa has long been in the public eye.
Born in Saitama, she studied architecture, mathematics and
biology at Tokyo University. She was scouted one day while
shopping in Shinjuku. If I hadnt gone into showbiz,
I might have become a surgeon, she says. Kikukawa says
she wasnt very interested in social issues until 2002
when she became co-anchor of Bankisha. Even though many of
the topics on the show affect her deeply, Kikukawa tries to
remain professional, I try not to show my feelings.
My role is just to convey the facts without prejudice.
In January, she visited a huge refugee camp in Kenya for the
UNHCR. I thought that if I went there and saw the plight
of refugees, I could appeal to the younger generation in Japan,
she says. I felt sad when I left the camp. My feelings
just flowed out. More recently, she emceed a concert
at Suntory Hall to raise funds for tsunami relief.
Her newest project will be her stage debut in June in the
drama Goben no Tsubaki, a tale of revenge. Having already
appeared in three films (Double Deception, Gun Crazy and Godzilla:
Final Wars), Kikukawa would also like to further her career
in Hollywood, a desire heightened by her visit last year to
New Yorks famed Actors Studio and an interview with
Dean James Lipton. Id love to study there. The
theater and music world in New York is so exciting. I saw
Hugh Jackmans The Boy From Oz, and it was amazing.
For now, Kikukawas schedule remains full. Some days
begin as early as 5am, especially if she is filming a TV drama.
She credits a healthy lifestyle and positive thinking with
keeping her energy level up. If you have the will and
a goal, the energy comes. On her rare days off, she
enjoys hip-hop or jazz dancing and an occasional game of tennis.
Her ideal kind of man, she says, is someone who is honest
and has the ambition to go for his goals. It would be
a relationship that would make us both better people,
Kikukawa says. But, guys, youll stand a better chance
if you love cheesecake and chocolates. Did you know
some chocolates are good for your health? I have a book that
says so, she jokes. And with that, Kikukawa is off to
record another program.
50 Years of Magic
Disney celebrates its California
Hyatt hosts a travel industry party to celebrate 50 years
of Disney California. Clockwise from top-left: TV announcer
Tomoyo Shibata with Mickey Mouse; Disneyland Resorts President
Matt Ouimet; Buzz Lightyear makes
an appearance; singers Marcie Dodd and Brian Brigham
Programmed for fun
With a background in television and film, Geoffrey Rice came
to Japan in 1990. Besides being the founding director of marketing
for Virgin Cinemas in Japan, he co-established the entertainment
production company Enjin Productions and last year directed
the pilot for a domestically produced situation comedy.
Where are you from?
Brockville, Ontario. Its a very pretty area. From our
living room window, I could look across the river and see
New York state.
What does Enjin Productions do?
We write, produce and direct original media content for TV
programs, DVDs, etc.
What are your latest projects?
We recently won a commission to create an HD (high definition)
educational program for junior high school students to teach
them the importance of copyrights. We are also currently producing
our second animation for NHKs popular long-running program
Minna no Uta.
How does the technology in your field in Japan compare
with that in North America?
Japan has clearly led the move to HD broadcasting and electronic
makers and has been the first to create low-cost HD cameras
for filmmakers. That being said, there are incredible developments
being made outside of Japan in high-end digital cinema cameras.
Any Canadian restaurants in Tokyo youd care to recommend?
Canada is so multicultural there really isnt a Canadian
cuisine and as far as I know, there are no Canadian restaurants
in Tokyo. Try the Maple Leaf bar in Shibuya.
What is the weirdest thing you have seen since youve
been in Japan?
Ive lost track. Thats what I love about this place.
I see weird stuff everyday.
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