Behind the Scenes with Yoshie Morino

On the heels of the Golden-Globe nominated and box-office sensation Crazy Rich Asians, there’s no doubt that Hollywood has started to embrace a more diverse casting strategy when it comes to filling out the roster of its biggest films.

Japanese actress Yoshie Morino, well-known for her turns in Sharknado with Tara Reid and The Cat Diaries TV series, is one such beneficiary.

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Morino at the premiere of Sharknado 5. Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

“I’m really excited to be a part of this new wave of talent, and to bring much needed diversity to the American filmmaking and acting landscape.”

Morino has recently joined the cast of Team 4, cementing her place within the company of celebrated filmmaker Len Davies, known for directing Emergency: LA. Indeed, Morino is currently working on two projects with Davies, who’s also been acclaimed for his work producing Bomber Command and World Association of Wrestling.

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Renowned producer Len Davies has worked on many different projects, and Morino is thrilled to be working with him.

“I’m very lucky to be working with Len on multiple projects – it’s validating as an actress to be a part of a production family. It means I can make meaningful economic and creative contributions to my industry, and to America more generally.”

In Team 4, Morino plays the leading role of Kumiko Kobayashi, a controller and leader in the mission preparation laboratory.

The series, which is about agents enhanced with nanotechnology who risk all to protect their world from evil forces, will showcase the character of Kumiko as having to shoulder the responsibility of programming the very nanotechnology inside each of the team members.

The role has therefore required Morino to access her strong sense of power and authority that, in real life she says, doesn’t come very easily.

“I’m very shy in real life, but that’s why I love acting – I get to play a part and do things that I would feel like I have to apologize for in my everyday world.”

The series also relied on Morino’s ability to effortlessly demonstrate her grasp of scientific terminology, as her character was an assistant on the original project that created the nanotechnology system and has the highest level security clearance from the NSA.

It’s not all serious business for Morino, though, as she enjoys some lighthearted scenes with another character who is a student to whom Kumiko imparts her knowledge. This allows the procedure to be carried on in the form of a legacy, as Morino’s character is the only person who understands the procedure and is therefore vitally important to the progression of the series’ hero journeys.

“My character Kumiko is totally unique in her field,” Morino adds proudly.

Aside from the character’s role in the plot, the role has also called on Morino’s unique screen talents and heritage to bring some authenticity to the project. Her gripping and powerful presence on camera brings out the best in the character of Kumiko Kobayashi, as well as revealing a vulnerability that engages viewers in a really effective (suggested: visceral ) way. Ultimately, as the director Len Davies and Morino both attest, Morino’s Japanese heritage grounds the series with an authentic representation of Asian culture that helps the series connect with audiences all over the world.

 

The other project Morino will be working on with Len Davies and his company is the feature film Astral Princess.

Don’t think though that Morino is intimidated at all by the change in medium, as it simply represents another opportunity to give service to a character and story.

Morino’s role is similarly demanding in Astral Princess, as she plays Ami Sato, an FBI field agent working with the lead agent Joel Finn.

“Joel,” Morino tells us, “is assigned to work on Suzannah Foster’s unique situation and as the pilot story develops, they become more involved in her abilities and the saving of Ricky Santos from the kidnappers. As the series progresses Ami becomes the liaison between the FBI and Suzannah.”

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Morino will be called on to participate and act in a wide range of high-octane action and stunt sequences. 

It’s clear that Morino’s multi-cultural heritage gives her the added ability to transcend cultures in order to deliver a compelling performance that relates to viewers of different backgrounds, a skillset that marks her as an actress at the top of her game.

“I think actors have a responsibility to relate to as many humans as possible, as we’re supposed to give life to the human experience and make people think and feel things they don’t otherwise get to experience in real life.”

Morino’s position as an Asian actress carving out a place at the top of Hollywood has been recently cemented with her contributions to the Glendale International Film Festival.

“The President of the Glendale International Film Festival even requested me to present the closing awards,” Yoshie tells us with a big smile.

“It was an amazing experience to present the awards to fellow filmmakers.”

Overall, the experience of being a judge also allowed her to use her own experiences to help others.

“I am grateful to be a part of these prestigious, well-known film festivals and to have been able to contribute my own acting experience.”

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The Glendale International Film Festival is considered ‘The Most Elegant Film Festival in the World.’ 

Aside from this integral perspective on her artistry, Yoshie’s successful career and relationships with illustrious companies have also brought her a degree of commercial success that would make any other actor envious. Perhaps a role in Crazy Rich Asians sequel is on the cards?

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The success of “Crazy Rich Asians” has sparked a wave of interest in actors of non-Caucasian heritage like Morino.

“I can’t quite say,” Yoshie says with a coy smile.

She adds, “I don’t think about the numbers, or money, I just think about the art.”

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