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Chris Tashima Poster

Biography

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Mini Bio (1)

In 1998, Chris Tashima received an Academy Award® for Live Action Short Film, for Visas and Virtue (1997) -- a 26-minute historical drama inspired by Holocaust rescuer Chiune 'Sempo' Sugihara -- which he directed, co-wrote (adapting an original one-act play by Tim Toyama), and starred as the Humanitarian diplomat. To produce the film, he co-founded Cedar Grove Productions -- with playwright and executive producer Toyama and producer Chris Donahue -- which remains active developing and producing projects which "boldly defy mainstream Hollywood by giving Asian Americans the spotlight on stage, or the close-up on screen."

Following that success, Tashima directed, co-wrote and acted in Day of Independence (2003), Cedar Grove Productions' tribute to the 120,000 Japanese Americans who endured America's World War II concentration camps. The half-hour drama received an Emmy® Nomination from the NATAS Northern California Chapter, in the category of Historical/Cultural - Program/Special, in addition to being officially selected to over sixty international film festivals, garnering twenty-five awards. Tashima studied film production at UC Santa Cruz, and with Visual Communications, an Asian Pacific American media arts organization in his hometown of Los Angeles.

As actor, Tashima has starred in numerous independent films over the past 25-plus years. In his biggest role, he played the romantic lead opposite Joan Chen, in Eric Byler's festival favorite, Americanese (2006), which won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and a Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble Cast at its world premiere at the 2006 SXSW Film Festival. More recently, he played the alcoholic father to Nichole Bloom's break-out starring debut in Lily Mariye's gritty urban indie, Model Minority (2012), and starred in the title role of Jeffrey Gee Chin's noir period dramatic short, Lil Tokyo Reporter (2012). Other feature roles range from the evil gangster Bong opposite Angus Macfadyen in Sherwood Hu's Lani Loa - The Passage (Lanai-Loa (1998)) from executive producers Francis Ford Coppola and Wayne Wang, to, most recently, the pivotal Papa role in Tim Savage's award-winning Under the Blood-Red Sun (2014) from producer Dana Satler Hankins, based on the best-selling young adult novel by Graham Salisbury.

Tashima's theatre appearances have included Ming in the world premiere of Chay Yew's A "Language of Their Own" at the Celebration Theatre, in West Hollywood (garnering an LA Weekly Theater Award for Ensemble Performance), Windrider in Laurence Yep's "Dragonwings" which he originated at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (and reprised at Seattle Children's Theatre, the Alliance Children's Theatre, in Atlanta, and Syracuse Stage), and Sugihara in Toyama's original one-act, "Visas and Virtue," at the Road Theatre Company, in North Hollywood. He has worked extensively with East West Players, in Los Angeles, where among his early credits are "Rashomon," "Mishima" and "The Memento."

In addition to theatre performance, Tashima has also directed for the stage, including the the world premieres of Dan Kwong's "Be Like Water" at East West Players, and Soji Kashiwagi's "Nihonmachi: The Place to Be" for the Grateful Crane Ensemble. In addition, Tashima is a multi-award-winning scenic designer (Ovation Award - "Sweeney Todd," Drama-Logue Award - "Into the Woods").

Tashima has been the recipient of honors from community organizations from around the country, including the "Japanese American of the Biennium" awarded by the National JACL, a Community Award from the Japanese American Service Committee (Chicago), a "Bridge Builder" Asian American Leadership Award presented by A. Magazine (NYC), a Special Recognition Award from the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (Los Angeles), a Visionary Award from East West Players (LA), and a Humanitarian Award from The "1939" Club, a Holocaust Survivors' organization (LA).

Tashima is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America, where he serves on the DGA's Asian American Committee. He is also an active member of SAG-AFTRA where he serves on the National APAM (Asian Pacific American Media) Committee. And in addition, he is a member of Actors Equity Association, and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Cedar Grove Productions

Trivia (15)

Won an Ovation Award for Set Design in a Smaller Theater in 1995, for "Sweeney Todd" at East West Players, in Los Angeles, CA.
Won a Drama-Logue Award for Scenic Design (shared with Christopher Komuro), for "Into the Woods" at East West Players in Los Angeles, CA.
Won a LA Weekly Theater Award for Ensemble Performance (with Dennis Dun, Noel Alumit and Anthony David) in 1994, for "A Language of Their Own" at the Celebration Theatre in West Hollywood, CA.
Worked as a scenic carpenter, sculptor and model-builder at Cinnabar set construction and effects company in Hollywood, from 1986 to 1993.
Earned his SAG card at age 30, with three words, "Can't help you," delivered in The Perfect Weapon (1991).
Studied violin, starting at age 6, under the Suzuki Method.
Was named "Extraordinary APA" (Asian Pacific American) of 2012, by Pacific Citizen newspaper, in the category of Entertainment, for his work on the short film, Lil Tokyo Reporter (2012) (honors shared with Jeffrey Gee Chin and Fumiko Carole Fujita).
Worked as a model in the early 1980s, modeling menswear in ads for The Broadway and Zody's department store.
Received the Japanese American of the Biennium Award, in the field of Arts/Literature/Communications (shared with Tim Toyama), in 2006, from the National Japanese American Citizens League.
Received the "Icon of Inspiration" Award, in the field of Arts and Entertainment, in 2014, from Asian Professional Exchange (APEX).
Threw out the ceremonial First Pitch at Dodger Stadium, at Los Angeles Dodgers' Japanese American Community Night, on July 24, 1998.
Received the Community Leadership Award, in 2015, from the Japanese American Bar Association, Los Angeles CA.
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch, since 1998.
Served on the Jury for the 6th Chilean International Short Film Festival - October 1998, in Santiago, Chile.
Has portrayed two historical figures onscreen, who each have a monument erected in their honor, in the Little Tokyo section of Downtown Los Angeles: Holocaust rescuer Chiune 'Sempo' Sugihara, in Visas and Virtue (1997), and Civil Rights pioneer Sei Fujii, in Lil Tokyo Reporter (2012).

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