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Conversations with Yuko Kudo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yuko Kudo.

Hi Yuko, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I am a professional multi-hyphenated human. Currently, an executive producer of an award-winning documentary series “Untapped Storytellers” telling the stories of artists and human resilience. I’m an advocate for artists and “human first” practitioner.

I was born and raised in a tiny town called “Aomori” (青森)in Japan. Disney movies, Sister Act 1&2 and Mariah Carey are the reason I moved to the United States in the first place. In 2003, I moved to the sunny Los Angeles, CA. went to acting school and done tons of Film/TV/Commercial/Theatre. My favorite background work during that time was for the feature film “Freedom Writers” with Hilary Swank. Not only I got to meet her but I got to meet Pat Carroll who was the original voice of Ursula in The Little Mermaid.

In 2013, I moved to NY tried to pursue Theatre. I soon realized that that’s not what my path is. (And I wrote a whole solo show about that called “Home; My Heart”. I now facilitate the creation of collaborative educational spaces focused on the intersection of art and activism. Besides “Untapped Storytellers”, my recent works have been digital hybrid experience. In February 2021, my collaborators and I premiered one-human-musical-show “I Came Here to Be Love”; a show about someone who’s trying to figure it out.

I believe that everyone is an artist and art is a language that speaks humans. I love playing piano, singing, photography, cooking, voice over work, and hiking.

A Board member of Prime Produce Apprentice Cooperative and a member of Artistic Council for People’s Theatre Project. Chair of Cultural Diversity for International Artists Inc.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There have been many trials and errors. I build a VERY strong belief that “If I don’t do it, nobody is going to do it for me”. I’m a go getter and do-er by default. And now, I’m actively trying to unlearn many of my habits.

I’m a Japanese woman who moved to this country at 19 years old and I’m the only one of my family who’s not in Japan.

I worked on my language to the point that most people think that English is my first language.

I worked through my VISA/immigration status.

I worked through financial struggle when my over-draft fee had more than I was making.

I worked through my eating disorder and I am a workaholic.

I am 4’10” and I only have high school diploma so most of my job applications won’t even be seen.

I’m usually the one woman on film set and I make it as a point to be the representation.

And I still live in NYC as an artist a roof over my head and food on my table. I think that’s pretty magical.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Most people know me for singing, photography and my work for creating space for artists and creatives. 90% of my work is about sharing people’s story and 10% of my work is about sharing my story. Creating is how I connect with people and learn from people. Sharing that, to me, is an advocacy and resource sharing.

I love to talk about being loved and being human first through my work. Primarily because I am hate feeling alone or not acknowledged. I often say loving people are my superpower and kryptonite. And I believe that art is a language that speaks human.

“I Came Here To Be Love”, the virtual hybrid one-human-musical-show that we premiered in Feb 2021, really changed my relationship with my creative work and its process. It showed me the power of art more than ever. We created that in the midst of pandemics when nobody was allowed to create live-theatre in person. We created access to live performances by removing the financial and geographical obstacles. We were able to pay all artists involved. I’m forever grateful for my team and the work they’ve put in to make this happen. I’m so proud of this team.

“Untapped Storytellers” this documentary series made me humble. Because I have to learn so many different things from zero. From producing, budgeting, writing grants, editing and sound… I am learning how to surrender and let that be their story.

What sets me apart is definitely how much I love people, I can love people and I am not afraid to show that to people. Again, because I know how not to feel seen, heard or appreciated.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
If you are curious about working with me, please reach out! You can email me, DM from IG or LinkedIn, I’d LOVE to hear from you. My work is always about building human relationships and learning from and with each other.

If anyone wants to support, follow and subscribe Untapped Storytellers on youtube! If you want to host a screening of Untapped Storytellers in your area, we’d LOVE to chat with you.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
@michaelcutrone @layramarz @kylebeckley

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