Jeanne Portrait - Sitting in front of Stone Wall

Photo by Lia Chang
February 2013

Jeanne Sakata is a renowned Asian American actor and playwright known for using her passion, versatility, talent and wit to provoke public conversation about culturally significant topics.  In 2015, Jeanne’s work spanned across theater, film and television, with a highly successful return engagement of her celebrated solo play Hold These Truths in ACT Seattle’s 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season; guest starring roles on Bravo TV’s TRUE FICTION pilot and on Ken Jeong’s new ABC hit comedy DR. KEN; her acclaimed comic turns onstage as Marceline in LA Times 2015 Critic’s Choice Figaro at A Noise Within and as Masha in LAPT’S Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spikeand her voice work as Soon Yang in Jennifer Phang’s acclaimed indie sci-fi film, Advantageous, which garnered the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival before premiering at New York’s BAMcinemaFest, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, San Francisco Film Society, and exclusively on Netflix in eighteen languages.

Throughout her more than 30-year career, Jeanne has been honored for her dynamic, thought-provoking portrayals in both comedy and drama. Called a “local treasure” by the Los Angeles Times, Jeanne’s talent has been reflected onscreen in NCIS Angeles, NUMB3RS, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives, Presidio Med, ER, Threat Matrix, Line of Fire, American Family, John Ridley’s I Got You, Hiroshima, and Sex and Marriage, a Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6) YOMYOMF YouTube webseries. A recipient of the LA Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress for her cross-gender portrayal of Master Hua in Chay Yew’s Red, she has recently developed and performed new works with the La Jolla Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Sundance Theatre Institute and Ojai Playwrights Conference, as well as the East West Players, the nation’s premiere Asian American theatre. She has also performed with The Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, 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, and is a member of LA’s acclaimed classical group, the Antaeus Company.   Other special honors include the 2016 Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community from Playwrights’ Arena, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre Outstanding Artist Award, the Monaco Charity Film Festival Best Actress Award (Adultolescence), Stage Scene Outstanding Performance mention (Master Class), Entertainment Today Best Supporting Actress Award (A Winter People), and the Drama-Logue Outstanding Performance Award (The Maids).

One of Jeanne’s most celebrated career achievements is her debut as the playwright of Hold These Truths, formerly known as Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi, which will be performed in the 2016-17 seasons of Portland Center Stage, the Guthrie Theatre, and Perseverance Theatre, and which was honored with a 2013 Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance for actor Joel de la Fuente in its off-Broadway run.  After four sold-out performances at Seattle’s ACT Theatre in 2014, the play returned by audience demand for a full four-week run as part of ACT’s 2015 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season, this time starring actor Ryun Yu.  Inspired by the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, to whom President Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2012, it presents a moving portrayal of a University of Washington Japanese-American student who, during WWII, fights US government policies to mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast while struggling to reconcile his beloved country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution. Since its world premiere in 2007 at East West Players, the play has been performed across the country, with sold-out performances at Seattle’s ACT Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company, People’s Light & Theatre, the Epic Theatre Ensemble, Play and Players, Coachella Valley Rep, Chautauqua Theatre Company, and Silk Road Rising. Markedly, it was workshopped by the Lark Play Development Center, the Dartmouth Residency at the New York Theatre Workshop, and co-produced with Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii 5-0) for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. With its timeless themes, Hold These Truths attracted unanimous rave reviews from The New Yorker, Washington Post and AP critics, as well as additional raves across the country in Seattle, Honolulu, Chapel Hill, Philadelphia and Palm Springs.  The script, published in Japan Studies Association Journal in 2010, is currently on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011.

Jeanne resides in Los Angeles with her husband Tim, and together they enjoy traveling, cooking and baking, reading, writing, hiking, charity work, and music.