Name: Haruka Kuroda
1. How did you end up working in the United Kingdom? I decided to quit high school at 16 and enroll in a boarding school in England in a bid to get into drama school — literally throwing myself in at the deep end! I got accepted into the Guildford School of Acting at 19 and did a three-year course in musical theater. Before I graduated, an agent persuaded me to stay for a while and try my luck … and I am still here 15 years later.
2. What do you miss most about Japan? Its four seasons and the way we celebrate the changes with different food. Nabe (hot pot) in winter, somen (cold wheat noodles) in summer, etc.
3. Describe the view from your window. At the moment, it’s 4 p.m. and already pitch black so I can’t see anything. It gets dark by 3:30 p.m. in winter.
4. How do you spend your days off? I love working out and baking cakes — a good combination, as I would be very fat otherwise!
5. What’s your favorite word or phrase in Japanese? “あれ” (“are,” or “that”). You can use it in so many different ways — it’s like a secret code.
6. What’s your favorite word or phrase in any language? “Que sera, sera,” or “Whatever will be, will be.” When something negative happens in my life, I try not to dwell on it too much. I like to keep on going and see what happens next.
7. If you could sit down for sushi with anyone from history, who would it be? (Singer) Hibari Misora. She lived for her art and would be fascinating to talk to.
8. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been asked to do on the kids program you appear on called “Officially Amazing”? Eating jelly with a spoon held by Mr. Cherry’s foot — can’t say that it was the highlight of my career!
9. What world record would you like to break? I am quite athletic, so I would probably like to try something physical. I would be rubbish at doing something that requires patience such as dice stacking.
10. What can we expect from the fifth season of “Officially Amazing”? A lot more laughter and crazy challenges.
11. You voiced one of the characters from the virtual pop group Gorillaz. How did that happen? A casting director was looking for an actress who can speak Japanese, as Noodle didn’t speak a word of English at that point. No one anticipated the level of success the band got and, before I knew it, I was touring the world with the guys.
12. What song best describes your work ethic? (Doris Day’s) “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).” As a freelance actress, I never know what I will be doing one day to the next. I can’t say that I like it, but it is what it is and I can’t see myself doing anything else.
13. How did you learn to speak with such a proper British accent? At drama school, I was told that unless I spoke in RP (Received Pronunciation), I would never get any work in the U.K. — how wrong they were! But I am very grateful for the training, as I wouldn’t have got a job such as “Officially Amazing” if I wasn’t able to speak clear English.
14. You’re a jack of all trades: actress, comedian, artist and martial arts fighter. What would you like to do next? I would like to create my own original theater piece for a youth audience.
15. Do you have a favorite comedian? I would love to work with the creators of “The League of Gentlemen” (Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson). I love their dark and weird humor.
16. Briefly tell us about the traveling theater group A Thousand Cranes? It is a U.K.-based theater company that brings the extraordinary stories, traditions, art forms and artists of Japan to a youth audience. I became an associate artist in 2014.
17. You work with a lot of young people. What’s that like? Enjoyable, rewarding and terrifying. I love the fact that I can give them joy and laughter with what I do — if I do it right, that is. If I get it wrong, they will tell you so or walk out.
18. What was the best advice you have ever received? My late grandmother wrote the following poem to me when I left Japan: “It is OK to fall over. During your life, you will fall or trip over. But it is important that you get up from the fall. Get up and smile, like a daruma doll.”
19. If you could ask your future self one question what would it be? “Are you happy?” Who knows what I will be doing, but I want to make sure that I am happy doing it.
20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? I was very lucky to have had the support of parents who let me follow my dreams. I know that not everyone will have that but, whatever the situation, listen to your gut feelings. Those feelings may not lead you to a financially comfortable life but you will live a fulfilling life doing what you are meant to be doing.
For more information on Haruka Kuroda, visit www.harukakuroda.com.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5