Perhaps you know it already, but one of my major influences for coming to Japan was the youngest of my elder sisters (she’s the woman in blue, in the center of the picture below). Erica was a NOVA teacher, but left after there were some discrepancies in her teaching contract. My sister struggled for a while, trying to find work in Japan, and after doing some extra work on Japanese TV, opened the golden doors of opportunity to what she truly wanted to do…entertainment. She started as a model with several agencies in Japan, going on to do commercials for Panasonic and Sony, voice work on a couple of Playstation 2 games, and even some announcing for the K-1 & Pride fighting tournaments. I haven’t been keeping up with her latest projects (as she is currently in the United States), but the latest projects were being a regular cast member of the Saturday, television comedy MAD TV (which went off the air last year I think), and a national Yoplait commercial last year. I’m quite proud of her, actually.
My sister’s advice was to get over here as soon as humanly possible, teach for a short while, and then…wait for it…QUIT MY JOB!! I had a hard time stomaching the latter part of her advice (two out of three ain’t bad). Although it sounds crazy, she said that doing so would create opportunities to do amazing things. Modeling in Japan, was very lucrative for her, and for some crazy reason she thought I could do the same. At my current teaching job, there is no opportunity for me to go to the necessary auditions to be successful at it. When I came, though, my sister did an email blast to all of her modeling contacts here in Tokyo, and as soon as I had a cell phone, and shared the number, I was getting messages about jobs…without doing anything…THANKS SIS!!
I was fortunate enough to have my first two jobs be with a mainstream Japanese Pop songstress and a wildly famous J-Pop group in Japan. I had no idea who Ayumi Hamasaki and Exile were, but after asking around I found out that they are household names in Japan. I kind of figured it out when I went to the acutual video shoots. These were professional, movie-style sets: sidewalks, street lamps, artificial snow, police cars, motorcycles, the whole nine. I met so many cool people two, most of whom were foreigners who had been in Japan for quite some time. The only bad part was that the majority of them spoke far better Japanese than I did.
I had a chance to see some truly sought after Japanese people (in person) and didn’t have to be cutthroat or overly aggressive to do so. Because modeling jobs I did were SO much fun to do, I hope that someday soon, I’ll have a chance to do even more. Though I am pretty certain I won’t be able to reach the level of acclaim that my sister did (I’m just not as dedicated to becoming an entertainer) in Japan, I think I can have some great experiences doing the odd-off modeling job.