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 2011-2014 seasons in THE BROTHERS PARANORMAL at La Jolla Playhouse, BLOOD at the Geffen Playhouse, HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO at the Ojai Playwrights Conference, A CAGE OF FIREFLIES at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, 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 performed regionally 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.  She 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.

In 2015, Jeanne’s voice work will be featured in Jennifer Phang’s acclaimed indie film ADVANTAGEOUS, world premiering in January as one sixteen films chosen for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition, and followed by showings in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Other feature film credits include playing Mom Wanda to Olivia Munn in the comedy THE BABYMAKERS, XX2: STATE OF THE UNION, and AMERICAN FUSION.  Her TV credits include 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.  Jeanne also guest stars in the comedy webseries SEX AND MARRIAGE on Justin Lin’s YOMYOMF YouTube channel.

Jeanne was honored to make her playwriting debut in 2007 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, followed by presentations with Silk Road Rising/Millennium Park in Chicago, University of California at Riverside, University of Tennessee in Knoxville, University of Washington in Seattle, and the National JACL & Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

Further workshopped with the Lark Play Development Center and at New York Theatre Workshop’s 2009 Dartmouth Residency, HOLD THESE TRUTHS had its New York Off-Broadway premiere with the Epic Theatre Ensemble in October 2012, featuring Joel de la Fuente and directed by Lisa Rothe.  The play 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, and followed by sold-out performances with ACT Seattle, PlayMakers Repertory Company, People’s Light & Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (co-produced with HAWAII FIVE-O’s Daniel Dae Kim) Terra Nova Collective, and Willamette University.

In 2015, HOLD THESE TRUTHS will return by audience demand to ACT Seattle for a full run in its upcoming 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season, as well as having new productions with Plays & Players in Philadelphia and Coachella Valley Rep in Palm Springs.  The play 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.  With the East West Players Theatre For Youth program in 2008 and 2010, the play twice toured high schools and junior high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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.