by Sherif Awad
I am Mayu Arimitsu, artist from Japan.
I was born in an art-loving family in Tokyo. Because my father was running a film trading business, I had opportunities to meet photographers he knew and did some modeling as a child. I have a younger sister, who grew up to be an academic researcher. Probably because I showed strong interest in Disney movies and I pretended dubbing multiple characters while watching them, my parents would let me see the Broadway musicals and films instead of TV in my childhood, for which I'm so grateful now. And so, it was pretty natural for me to be interested in performing arts and I started modern ballet when I was three. And I loved it from day one.
-In my teens, I was binging films and I enjoyed a variety of tastes. Creators like Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Tim Burton inspired me a lot, while artists like Jack Nicholson, Gary Oldman, Yuki Kudo, Kaori Momoi showed me the great world of performing and led me where I am.
-I was trained as a dancer first, then actor, and narrator. I think my foundation as a performer was made during 3-8 years old, when I was taught what it means to show something to people. As an actor, I tried method on-screen and then stage acting. I'm forever indebted to my first acting coach because every piece of what I've learned as a performer and a human being is coming together now. In the long term, even something seemingly unrelated to performing could come in handy as well. Also, to look at your job from another point of view helps you understand the job better. Currently, I'm working with a production company in California to make a series of online ads, and I wear several hats when I'm shooting it in my home studio. This is something that broadens my horizon as an actor.
-I'm enjoying my life now probably more than ever because I'm working with clients worldwide as a voice actor and even as an on-camera actor, thanks to this remote-hiring age. I really hope this trend continues, even post-COVID. What matters to me is that there are people who need my skills and personality. And I'm simply determined to complete my missions, regardless of the size of the projects.
-My Japanese agent told me that the job opportunities for actors are reduced to about one-fifth of before COVID. I'm seeing a lot of creatives shifting their stage from TV to online platforms such as Youtube. I see theaters and films are severely affected by the pandemic. But many artists and creators are tough enough to find a way to let their creativity flowing.
-Sometimes I'm asked by casting to find someone I know for a specific job, and I figure out the possibly good match. So, now I know why they want to hire someone trustworthy, prompt, and good. And that's what I should be as well. Building a mutual trust with them helps you work at ease. If they answer your questions sincerely and makes it clear about job instructions, that's a good indicator to show they're dependable, I think.
-For new projects, first of all, I examine the offer and see if I can imagine myself doing the job. Just like De Niro says, "Talent is the ability to make the right choice". If I take the offer, I do research, make a plan and give it a shot and enjoy it wholeheartedly. Always be objective when reviewing and incorporate feedback. I usually trust my instinct and prioritize the first impression I get from the script.
-I have to say that I appreciated many opportunities to be part of great productions such as the Opera 'Manon Lescaut', Tokyo collection, films, online contents...and every job contributes to my growth as an actor. But, here I'd like to mention one unforgettable voice actor job that I did for an artist couple. I hosted their wedding, and the groom said my reading of his mom's letter in English and Japanese really touched their heart. They were so happy and moved and thanked me for that. It was a rare opportunity for me to be able to directly feel the impact of what I did.
-Sometimes I voice characters and do the script translation from English to Japanese as well. What's great about this localization work is it gives you a holistic understanding of the characters and the contents.
-For new artists, I would suggest that you take every artistic opportunity in front of you as the best gig to you now. Things might turn out the way you never expected, but believe me, eventually they'll lead you where you have to be. Enjoy the journey of finding yourself, but never be obsessed with the results.
Oh, I need someone expert to tell me how to do a balance between my work and my private life! I wish I could say "my day begins with a decent breakfast and I go to bed by 10..." but the reality is, it's not rare that I just get a bite at the apple and go straight to my recording booth, to do the work my international client had assigned while I'm asleep. I don't mind working on the weekends, and it's not unusual that I stay up late to record. It comes with the territory, but I hope to get better at it.
I'm waiting for the release of three short films made in the US, UK and Brazil respectively. Also, I'm excited to be part of Tokyo Biennale, an art festival held in Tokyo this summer as a voice actor for its audio walk exhibition. And there's one super-cool beer ad that I dubbed in English coming up. I'm so excited!