Photo: Instagram/watanabenaomi703

Naomi Watanabe moving to U.S.; switching base of operations to outside Japan

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

In Japan, when a celebrity steps away from intensive activity in the entertainment industry, they’re often described as “graduating.” So it came as a surprise for fans on Monday when Naomi Watanabe, one of Japan’s most popular entertainers, announced that she’ll be graduating from regular Japanese TV work at the end of this month.

However, Watanabe isn’t fleeing the spotlight, but crossing the ocean, as she’ll be moving to the U.S. and switching her focus to the American/English international media sphere.

Watanabe broke the news bilingually, in Japanese and English, through her Instagram account.  

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She’s also already signed with not one, but two talent agencies, Los Angeles-based ICM Partners, which operates in the movie, TV, music, and new media sectors, and New York modeling agencies IMG Models, suggesting that she intends to continue her multi-faceted career that spans comedy, acting, music, and fashion.

One day prior to her Instagram announcement Watanabe appeared on Japanese variety program Hayashi-sensei no Hatsumimigaku where she talked about her international ambitions, with the 33-year-old saying she wants to play the lead role in an American comedy movie by the time she’s 40.

Watanabe, who spent time studying abroad in the U.S. in 2014, hasn’t said what part of the States she’ll be making her home, though she’s been the owner of a home in New York since 2019. Previously, she’d been considering trying to split her time evenly between Japan and the U.S., but the current coronavirus situation makes such frequent international travel a health risk and logistics nightmare, and so with her representation contracts set with ICM and IMG, the timing was right to pounce across the Pacific, though she says she still hopes to be able to work on occasional Japanese projects. “I’m going to go study to become a super entertainer that you guys can have a lot of fun watching,” Watanabe promises, and her many fans will surely have their eyes on her, no matter where in the world she is.

Sources: Instagram/watanabenaomi703, Oricon News via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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-- Plus-sized Naomi Watanabe is Japanese netizens’ latest fashion inspiration

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Good for you, Naomi! Sam Jackson, Michael Keaton, Regina KIng amongst others represented by IMC. IMG handles sports, fashion, etc. Pursue your own branding. Freedom from the chains that shackle some talent here. - Best wishes.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Great for her. I hope she does well in the US. At least she'll be able to spread her wings and her voice, her way without adhering to the Japanese "wa."

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Hope it will make her so busy we wont see her anymore everywhere in Japan. So many people tired of her....

-7 ( +10 / -17 )

Hope it will make her so busy we wont see her anymore everywhere in Japan. So many people tired of her....

Wish her luck but her only talent is being fat and making funny faces... proof that you don’t need much to ( at least start your journey in the entertainment industry (and) ) be considered a “star” or “celebrity” in Japan...

3 ( +17 / -14 )

Thought she had already moved, many before her had moved with the media

raving how they were going to conquer the U.S with their talent be it in comedy, music, acting

just a few example utada Ikaru, Toshinobu Kubota, Hamasaki Ayumi, Rola, Yoshiki to name a few.

At the end of the day, she will be making all her money here in Japan and spending it there in the U.S

Moving abroad is like some prestige and helps raise their status that they are international.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Is she going to do her Beyonce imitation for a US audience? Not sure how that will go over. I wish her luck, but as others have said, many of these performers make the move to the US, but end up making all of their money in Japan. But they are able to sell the dream of moving to the US and Japanese TV loves that story. How many times have we seen Laura(SP) the half Japanese model/talent living and painting in her Los Angeles house!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Wow! Good for her. I will look forward to seeing her in the movies.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Good luck to Naomi.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Good luck to Naomi Watanabe!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

One can’t move forward by standing still, go for it, broaden your horizons, so to speak.

I haven’t found Naomi Watanabe brand of comedy frankly amusing, not laugh out load.

Friends split there sides in mirth bent double though.

Supposedly based around Naomi slapstick personally.

All the best.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I haven’t found Naomi Watanabe brand of comedy frankly amusing, not laugh out load.

Ditto! My wife likes her for some reason but I can't get into her. It's all good though, everyone has their own hustle and wish her the best. I remember seeing a documentary about her growing up and how she was heavily bullied because of her weight. I love how she overcame her hardships and now her bullies can eat dirt.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Best of luck!

But I bet she makes most of her $$ doing CMs for J-tv......just sayin

Hopefully she proves me wrong!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm a little surprised at the timing of her move. I hope she is successful, but I don't see much demand in the US entertainment market for a chubby Japanese woman. Maybe she can help Japanese baseball players with translation as they typically need it for however long they play MLB in America.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

She'll be the 3 times per season cameo Asian next door neighbor on a sitcom.

The cameo Asian woman in movies.

The one time "brave" plus sized model on the cover of a few fashion mags/websites.

This time next year she'll be back on TV in Japan with a vacation home in the US in California or Hawaii.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

How about we all just wish her luck instead of being so mean.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Good luck to her, but she’ll need more up her sleeve than just being self depreciating about her weight.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Beyonce of Japan: Naomi Watanabe

Naomi Watanabe strong personality and character is a valuable attribute beyond the rather superficial nature of celebrity, and the cosmetic pursuit of beauty.

I cannot tolerate bullies.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Good on her for trying but to be honest, she doesn't seem to have any talent apart from applying make up and over eating. I predict a few "Naomi in the States" TV specials and then a return to shouting on "talento quiz shows".

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Good luck to her. Many have tried the same path, only to end up back home.

She has a bit more range than the typical one-trick-pony JP "comedians". She can sing and dance, and is a positive role model for larger women. With the current push for more inclusion of all body types being portrayed positively, the timing may just be right for her.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

We'll see what happens. I can't see her brand of slapstick, self depricating humour having broad appeal anywhere apart from Japan. There are so many other budding entertainers etc worldwide trying to break into the US market, I don't know what would make her stand out from the rest.

Good luck to her though. She has a dream and she'd giving it a go.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

She's trying new things, following her dreams, can't hate on that. Do what you gotta do.

The timing? Not good at all, but whatever floats your boat.

Her talents? Questionable but if she can adapt well and not go for the usual gimmick or schtick needed in Japan to be noticed. The cream rises to the top, if she is as good as she thinks she is. I have no idea about her English, but comedy and whatever it is she does, generally does not translate well from the US to Japan and vice versa.

As others have said, more famous and skilled people from Japan have tried, but failed.

Utada Hikaru was the most disappointing failure for me. If anyone could have made that transition, she could have done it. But when she left the formula that made her famous and used lyrics like "easy, peasy, a little bit Japanesey" that just spelled failure from the start. Watanabe Ken did pretty well. Of course the many baseball stars as well. But sports is always universal, "talento" not so much.

Am i a fan? Not really, I don't despise her either though. She can do her thing and it's fine. I wouldn't crap on her attempt. Will she make it, well that remains to be seen. Can't find out till you try.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

There is no shortage of Asian actors already in the US who are talented and are fluent or native English speakers. Their challenge is getting work. Matsuda Seiko once said she failed in the US because the industry was racist. I think more likely she lacked the talent. It's far more competitive and sorry to say most tarento, actors, singers just aren't talented enough.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I always found all the segments on TV showing her gobbling up unhealthy amounts of food to be like watching someone commiting a very slow suicide: sad and disturbing. The only other vivd memory I have of her is when she played an african ryokan owner in blackface in a TV sketch. It was exactly as "funny" as it sounds.

I fail to see how she would be successful in the US seeing that her only talent is being able to dance while being obese. The equally unfunny Yuji Ayabe moved to New York in 2016 to pursue a comedy career, and five years later he's completely M.I.A. I really think most Japanese comedians grossly underestimate american entertainment and especially stand-up comedy.

Even Hitoshi Matsumoto, who's a comedic genius (in my opinion), whould have a hard time making it in the US, so why would younger, humor-challenged yoshimoto alums think they could do it is beyond me.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The only other vivd memory I have of her is when she played an african ryokan owner in blackface in a TV sketch.

Yikes. If a video of that still exists on the innerwebs, she's toast in the US. Her career will be stillborn.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Good luck to her!

Talent and hard work make their own luck.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Another one adding to Japan's brain drain. I have noticed more recently, that the best and brightest of the Japanese leave Japan to live elsewhere.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Not a good news for her food diet

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Never watched her since I don't have a TV, But I wish her all the luck and success, good luck.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Hitoshi Matsumoto, downtown?

Please an ego the length and breadth of Tokyo Tower, a comic legend in his own mind.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

a comic legend in his own mind.

A comic legend in actual fact, as his influence on japanese culture in general is absolutely huge. I don't know about his ego since I don't personally know him, but anybody deserves to have a big ego, it's definitely him.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Jsapc, you are a fan, nothing personal. My J family have all his DVD.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Good for her, wish her the best of luck, she would fit right in, she has a witty and cute personality.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Good luck Naomi!! Always thought she had more talent than the average talentless talent in Japan. Her singing and dancing is not that bad.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Naomi Watanabe has done the homework, spotted an opportunity, and taken the risk.

I may not appreciate Naomi comic turns.

I do admire the Naomi go get spirit.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good for her. She sure would look better if she could shed off some pounds. oops!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yeah, right @Jsapc. Hitoshi Matsumoto, who laughs when his partner, Demae-can (or, whatever, unfunny no-talent he’s known as,) dresses up to ridicule Eddie Murphy. Don’t you think it’s hypocritical to use their “black-face’ to call out her ‘black-face’? She never applied black-face to pay tribute to Beyoncé .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

go girl!

i think people in america will think she is big too!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hitoshi Matsumoto, who laughs when his partner, Demae-can (or, whatever, unfunny no-talent he’s known as,)

He's actually know as "Masatoshi Hamada", one of the most popular, famous and respected living comedian in Japan with a career of close to 40 years (and some very bad commercial choices his own partner very rightfully makes fun of).

dresses up to ridicule Eddie Murphy.

The only person they were ridiculing in that sequence was Hamada himself, but you obviously rather purposefully completely missed that in order to make some sort of indignant point.

Don’t you think it’s hypocritical to use their “black-face’ to call out her ‘black-face’? She never applied black-face to pay tribute to Beyoncé .

And I never said she did. You seem very angry for some reason, but please direct your virtue signalling anger elsewhere.

I never said dressing up Hamada as Eddie Murphy for a 2 minutes sequence was a good idea. But playing an african ryokan owner speaking in broken japanese is much, much egregious.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Coronavirus situation in the US is far worse than Japan.

I would recommend against this transition at least until the pandemic is under control.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Her parody of Lady Gaga’s music video of Rain on Me was great.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Your hypocrisy is outing her “black-face” but neglecting to also point out ‘Downtown’ manzai’s prominent display of “black-face’, televised during one of ‘the most anticipated and watched annual owaria events for Japanese children each year’. Hardly, 2 minutes.

Hers, if it happened, would be eqaully egregious. Not angry or indignant or signaling. Started this thread offering support. Just wary that there other comments like your comments since @5:09p are maliciously wishing her failure.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Your hypocrisy is outing her “black-face” but neglecting to also point out ‘Downtown’ manzai’s prominent display of “black-face’,

I'm not outing her blackface, but simply giving my opinion on her body of work, which is profoundly unfunny.

*televised during one of ‘the most anticipated and watched annual owaria events for Japanese children each year’. *

Gaki no Tsukai is certainly not "for Japanese children", that statement is blatantly false.

Hardly, 2 minutes.

It was a two to three minutes sequence. He came out dressed as Axel Foley, lamented that his costume was different than his partners, tried to get on the bus, then got changed and the show moved on. Why would you say that sequence was something it isn't? Did you actually see it or are you "maliciously" exaggerating?

Hers, if it happened, would be eqaully egregious. Not angry or indignant or signaling. Started this thread offering support. Just wary that there other comments like your comments since @5:09p are maliciously wishing her failure.

I am entitled to my opinion. My opinion is that Naomi Watanabe is basic and corny. If you're a fan, that's good for you, but don't attack other people for not liking what you like with your bold italics.

Also, I do not "wish her failure". I simple wonder how she could succeed given her lack of talent. I don't harbour any ill-will towards her, on the contrary, I find it extremely sad that she's building her career around rolling towards an early death from diabetes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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