July 14, 2009

I came across an interview with Leslie Ishii, a Sansei actor seen on TV in the series Lost and Desperate Housewives, and soon to be seen in the movie Fame. Her answer to the very first question rang Densho’s bells. When asked what inspired her to pursue an acting career, she cites a 1980s Seattle theatrical performance in support of Gordon Hirabayashi, who was seeking to have his Supreme Court conviction for defying incarceration overturned.

The Japanese American community came out in force, and former detainees told the stories of their wartime ordeals for the first time. The standing room crowd was moved. Ishii says, “I recall my Dad mentioning at intermission that he was in the restroom and saw men crying. Asian men could be very close to their vests in showing their emotions. I saw how powerful storytelling was and knew it was something I had to do more of.”

Densho also knows about powerful storytelling, the power of life stories to bring out emotions–and we hope to enlighten. Stay tuned for reports on our latest interview gathering.