Biography

Jeanne Portrait - Sitting in front of Stone Wall

Photo by Lia Chang
February 2013

Jeanne Sakata is well known to Los Angeles theater fans, having performed in the 2011-2013 seasons in BLOOD at the Geffen Playhouse (Workshop), HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO at 2013 Ojai Playwrights Conference, A CAGE OF FIREFLIES at the 2012 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, in SEVEN at USC as Cambodian human rights activist Mu Sochua , and in Julia Cho’s THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE at East West Players. An LA Ovation Award winner for Best Lead Actress for her cross-gender portrayal of Master Hua in Chay Yew’s RED at EWP, Jeanne has also received a 2013 Monaco Charity Film Festival Award for Best Actress for her work in the indie film ADULTOLESCENCE, a StageScene “Best of 2007” Outstanding Performance mention for her performance as Maria Callas in EWP’s MASTER CLASS, an Entertainment Today Award for Best Supporting Actress in Chay Yew’s A WINTER PEOPLE at Theatre @ Boston Court, and a DramaLogue Award for Outstanding Performance for her work in Jean Genet’s THE MAIDS at EWP. Regionally, she has performed with The Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, American Conservatory Theater, Northlight Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Syracuse Stage and the Arizona Theatre Company. Screen credits include playing Mom Wanda to Olivia Munn in the recently released feature film comedy THE BABYMAKERS, NCIS LOS ANGELES, TYLER PERRY’S MEET THE BROWNS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, ER, THREAT MATRIX, LINE OF FIRE, PRESIDIO MED, AMERICAN FAMILY, NUMB3RS, John Ridley’s I GOT YOU, the MOW’s THE READING ROOM, HIROSHIMA, CONSENSUAL RELATIONS, and the feature films XXX2: STATE OF THE UNION and AMERICAN FUSION.  Jeanne also guest stars in the new comedy webseries SEX AND MARRIAGE on Justin Lin’s YOMYOMF YouTube channel, which just premiered on September 9th, 2013.

In 2007, Jeanne was honored to make her playwriting debut with her solo show HOLD THESE TRUTHS (formerly DAWN’S LIGHT: THE JOURNEY OF GORDON HIRABAYASHI). Featuring Ryun Yu and directed by Jessica Kubzansky, the play had its critically acclaimed world premiere in 2007 at East West Players, co-presented by the Japanese American National Museum, UCLA Department of Asian American Studies, and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.  In its New York premiere with the Epic Theatre Ensemble in October 2012, featuring Joel de la Fuente and directed by Lisa Rothe, HOLD THESE TRUTHS opened to unanimous rave reviews from The New Yorker, The Washington Post/API, and many other critics, garnering a 2013 Drama Desk Award Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance for de la Fuente, and was followed by its Hawaiian premiere in February 2013, co-produced by HAWAII FIVE-0 star Daniel Dae Kim and the Honolulu Theatre For Youth. Workshopped at the Lark Play Development Center and at New York Theatre Workshop’s 2009 Dartmouth Residency, the play has also been performed at Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion with Silk Road Rising/Millennium Park as part of the Park’s 2011 IN THE WORKS New Plays Series; the Epic Theatre Ensemble’s 2010 Passion Play Festival with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice; the University of California at Riverside’s Performing Arts Series; the 2013 California Judges Association Annual Conference in Palm Springs; the 16th Annual Conference of the Japan Studies Association in Honolulu; at Japanese American Citizens League Day of Remembrance events in Sacramento and Salinas, California; and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where it served as the inspiration and theatrical centerpiece of the civil rights symposium “Civil Liberties, National Security and the Legacies of the Japanese Removal and Incarceration.” With the East West Players Theatre For Youth program in 2008 and 2010, the play has twice toured high schools and junior high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. HOLD THESE TRUTHS is now part of the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where Jeanne’s working script was recently on view in the Thomas Jefferson Building in conjunction with the Library of Congress celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

HOLD THESE TRUTHS was most recently performed for a May 2013 benefit performance for the Japanese American Bar Association at Los Angeles’ Tateuchi Democracy Forum and for New York’s Solo Nova Festival in June 2013 with the Terra Nova Collective.  The play is next scheduled for Willamette University in Oregon in October 2013, for People’s Light “Community Matters” Series on March 17th in Pennsylvania, and at PlayMakers Repertory Company in North Carolina in April 2014.

In December 2011, Jeanne was honored with an Outstanding Artist Award for her career achievements by Los Angeles’ Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theatre. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Tim, with whom she will soon celebrate their 37th anniversary, and with whom she relishes her passions for cooking, baking, travel, animals, hiking, reading, writing and singing.