Note: www.KiraOnodera.com is not official Kira Onodera website! This is a fan website. The Kira Onodera’s official website is changed to http://kira-onodera.com/ now.
Kira Onodera got her start at The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, one of the nation’s premiere Shakespeare producers. At fourteen, she appeared in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” and then in “As You Like It” two years later. This was only the beginning for the young actress.
Daughter of a Hawaiian born Japanese beatnik dad and a young Caucasian hippie mom from Florida, Kira Onodera grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended a Japanese preschool in San Francisco. Soon after college she would perform a one woman show honoring her Japanese-American heritage. Kira toured east coast schools for 10 months performing “Within the Silence” written by Ken Mochizuki. The multi-media theater piece produced by Living Voices Theater Company explores the experience of the Japanese Internment camps during World War Two. It was a life changing project for the actress.
“I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning, driving to out of the way towns in New Jersey to perform 3 shows for hundreds of kids. Performing in cafeterias, libraries, and gyms…It was crazy! I said to myself: if I can do this I can do anything…I was confronting racism and historic misconception head-on. At the end of a long day I knew I had done something important for Japanese-Americans.”
In 2001 Kira performed for international audiences when she was asked to be a part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest fringe festival in the world. She performed “Joan” for the entire run of the festival, achieving special recognition in reviews about the fringe.
Kira plans to tour again with her most recent project, The Crease Question. This one woman show written, directed and performed by Kira premiered at the Michael Chekhov Theatre Company’s Big Little Theater in 2005. She started writing “The Crease Question” out of frustration from the lack of material written for or about Asian-Americans. This was her first opportunity to direct and perform a self written piece.
“I discussed who was going to direct my show with the artistic director and I said, no one really knows this material better than I do. I think I have to direct this.… Since then I have taken on other directing projects and it just feels right. I have always been very comfortable with the analytical side of acting.”
The actress was influenced at a very young age by the constant creative endeavors of her family; especially her sisters. Lisa Onodera has produced such films as Picture Bride and The Debut. Lisa continues to support other film projects focusing on the Asian-American experience. Suzanne Onodera is a successful artist and curator; she is currently represented by the Dolby Chadwick gallery in San Francisco.
As a young adult, Kira made numerous appearances at the Asian American Theatre Company. The lack of opportunity for serious artistic growth at her local high school was the catalyst that landed her at The San Francisco School Of The Arts (a public arts high school). She graduated from S.O.T.A. after writing and directing two plays and moved on to the prestigious Acting Conservatory at S.U.N.Y. Purchase. At Purchase she kept her writing separate from performing.
“I was told my freshman year that doing any writing except journaling and term papers wasn’t good for my acting. It would make me an unfocused performer. I really wanted to prove myself as an actor, so I took their advice. I knew my writing would always be there when I wanted to come back to it.”
Her writing would come back to her, as her success with the Crease Question would prove. And so emerges a “triple threat”; actor, writer, director Kira Onodera is a dynamic young talent that we should all be on the look out for in the very near future.