AAPI Artists & Activists: Sabrina Imamura

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, LaDuca is honored to spotlight five inspiring performers whose work in the Entertainment Industry has greatly impacted the field and continues to inspire creativity, conversation, and change both on and off the stage.

Sabrina Imamura was born and raised in Plymouth, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BFA in Dance and Art History, and trained with the American Ballet Theatre and Joffrey Ballet. Sabrina has been seen onstage as a soloist with Ballet Inc. and in the Broadway and national touring companies of Hamilton.

I am half Japanese and half Polish, and I grew up in the small town of Plymouth, Michigan. Growing up in such a small town, I wasn’t surrounded by an Asian community. Because I am mixed, I also didn’t realize that I looked different. I considered myself to be the same as everyone else and only in my later years did I realize that I had different features from most of my white colleagues. 

Being both Asian and European, I feel like I experienced an identity crisis, where on one hand, I wished that I looked less Asian, and on the other hand I wished I looked full Asian in order to fit certain standards. This identity crisis was further amplified when I started auditioning because I was either too Asian or not Asian enough. Because I have grown so much as a person and artist, I’ve learned to embrace that I am unique and that I am proud of both sides of my ethnicities. 

When I first moved to New York City, I became more aware of diversity in the room and many times I was one of few, if not the only Asian representation in the room. But instead of becoming self-conscious about how different I looked, I used that as my greatest strength. I feel a great sense of pride knowing that I am giving hope to the younger Asian generation and showing them that we are valuable, talented and able to succeed in the entertainment industry. I feel extremely blessed that we are now in a space where diversity is appreciated and celebrated, but there is still so much work to be done. 

We are moving forward in the right direction, but the diversity needs to continue past the talent. We need to see ourselves in casting teams and artistic teams too. It’s really wonderful that these conversations have been opened and addressed because they are very past due. 

There is a common misconception that Asian Americans aren’t really American because our features are different from our white counterparts. Our ancestors immigrated to America to give future generations the ‘American Dream’ that is so sought after. We are American born and we have American stories that we would love to tell, which includes the many facets of our cultural background. It’s really important that we, as Asian Americans, are hired for our talent instead of being tokenized or stereotypically cast. We are allowed to look different and still be American. That is what makes this country so beautiful — diversity. I’m looking forward to the day that I see more fellow Asians not only onstage and onscreen, but behind the scenes on creative teams and at casting tables.

Follow Sabrina @sabrinamiko and on TikTok @sabrinamiko_.

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