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.
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
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