As some of you may know I recently started modeling and acting in Japan. Now before you jump to any conclusions, NO! I’m not planning on becoming a professional actor or model. But I thought it would be a fun experience to try, since Japan is always looking for foreigners to play roles on T.V. and other types of media.
Applying for the job
I got the job through a good friend (thanks again James Lowe) who referred me to his talent agent. I applied, did a short interview and was hired by the agency as one of their model/actors. After I got passed the initial stages, I started receiving emails about different job offers and the profiles they are looking for. Immediately I noticed a trend of profiles, with the most sought after being White, second Black and third Half (half Japanese and any other race).
I started thinking maybe I’m out of luck here. But I threw caution into the wind and started sending my profile anyway. I got turned down a few times and was told that they didn’t like my profile. However, after a few tries I started getting auditions. Even though I wasn’t what they were initially looking for, they gave me a shot and I landed my first gig as an actor.
Acting in Japan
My first job description was vague. The description said:
Three people walking, smiling and drinking wine in the city.
When I got to Asahi Broadcast Studios I was asked to change into a Victorian outfit. I smiled put the outfit on and took a selfie (of course!).
After I changed they drove us to the set, which was at another location. I met with two other actors one was Italian and the other was from South Africa. They were very nice and gave me some tips about how things were going to go:
First, everyone spoke Japanese and a little English (very little). I’m glad my bad Japanese was good enough to communicate.
Second, we weren’t given any lines and told to improvise because everything we said would be dubbed over in Japanese any way.
Mostly we were given a scene and we had a basic storyline but no lines. The story was about a foreign woman living in Japan and she was thinking about moving back to her country.
For the scene I was told to look drunk and be serious. They took about 10 minutes to shoot and I was in the background looking drunk and half asleep. They used about .5 seconds of me and I was sent home. I was on set for about 2 hours and paid 9,000 yen ($90 USD) .I made some pretty good money and had fun. The actors were smart and one of them had a career outside of acting. It was an interesting experience.
Modeling in Japan
Now modeling was a whole different animal. I made a mistake and thought it was a 4-hour gig. Which by my calculations at 14,000 ($140 USD) yen was pretty good. It was actually 6 hours with a one-hour lunch. Still not bad, but I had to cancel my work at my office and work a Saturday to make up for it.
I can’t complain, after all it’s about the experience right?
Either way the models were way different from the actors I met. The actors I met had much more experience than these new models I met. One of the girls was constantly taking selfies by herself while off camera. Apparently she couldn’t seem to get enough of her outfit and wanted to share as many duck faces as she could.
There were a total of 9 of us and only two could speak English. The main model was French and couldn’t speak any Japanese. The main model was the stereotypical nightmare foreigner for the Japanese staff.
He would talk to the staff in English and laughed at them as they would either ignore him or pretend to understand.
Some could understand, while others had a deer caught in the headlights look.
He did what ever he wanted.
The scene was set as a wedding and he was the groom. They asked us not to eat the food. He ate the food. They asked us not to drink the wine. He drank the wine. All in all by the end of the day the set manager wanted to kill him and the photographer had an “I hate him” grin while finishing up the shots.
I asked the main model how long he was in Japan for. He told me he comes to Japan and stays 6 months out of the year. But after that he goes a little crazy and needs to go back home. I can relate to that concept a bit.
The Russian model that was taking the selfies was very interesting. She started a conversation with me by saying:
Hey did you know that once you get married (to a Japanese national) and have permanent residency you can get divorced and keep your Visa?
I’m not sure if that was her plan. But if it was, I felt sorry for her Japanese husband that she dated for less than 6 months before getting hitched. I think I saw her exchange numbers with one of the other male models before we wrapped up.
For the shots we were asked to have a conversation while pretending to eat and drink.At one point the Russian models(4 woman) got into an argument about Putin and Russian politics. Mind you, all of these conversations were in Japanese because this was the common language. Once the Russians started arguing the conversation turned to Russian.
What a sight that must have been for the Japanese staff !
It was fun and definitely a unique experience.I ended the day and exchanged Facebook info with a French male runway model before calling it a day.
I’m going to do a few more of these gigs if they pay is right. But overall if you get a chance to try acting/modeling in Japan, I say go for it! You never know how it will turn out!
Social Gelo with Angelo
Angelo Ferrer (M.S. Psychology)