Photo: PR Times
entertainment

Who is Rola, the hottest face in Japanese advertising?

32 Comments
By George Lloyd, grape Japan

You’d be hard-pressed to visit Japan without seeing Rola’s face. You see her striking features everywhere — in countless advertisements for everything from makeup to health drinks, as a fashion model, on TV shows, and now as an actress and opera singer.

In 2014, she had more commercial contracts than any other celebrity in Japan. Today, she has one of the largest social media followings of any Japanese celebrity.

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Photo: PR Times

Rola owes her striking looks to her father, who is Bangladeshi, and her mother, who is three-quarters Japanese and one-quarter Russian. Born in Sayama in Saitama prefecture, she moved to Bangladesh when she was one and spent the first seven years of her life speaking Bengali.

Rola described her time in Bangladesh in a recent interview with Tokyo Journal. “I was like a monkey — not human. I ate mangos a lot and I had to catch fish with a fishing pole I made myself. I grew up like a man in the jungle… My clothes were dirty. That was natural for me. I don’t think normal Japanese people have that kind of experience.”

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Photo: PR Times

Rola’s life in the Bangladeshi countryside came to an abrupt end when her father married a Chinese woman and the family moved back to Japan. “When I moved to Japan, my house was in a really poor area and six people from my family lived together there.”

Rola started learning to speak, read and write Japanese in Tokyo. “I am really grateful to my stepmom because I went to Japanese school, but I couldn’t read or speak any Japanese.” Her stepmother had been a mathematics teacher and ballet dancer when she was in China, and she taught Rola how to do multiplication and division. “She was very strict,” she says.

When Rola was 13, her family moved back to Bangladesh for a year, but they moved back to Japan again when she was 14. Her modeling career began at the age of 16, when she was scouted as a high school student on the streets of Shibuya. She started modeling and made her first appearance as a TV tarento five years later. Since then, she has become a fixture of Japanese TV and advertising.

She has also published books on fashion and cooking. She was raised as a Muslim, but says, “I’m not a good Muslim because I eat pork… I tried to be a good Muslim in Japan, but they eat a lot of pork, so my father allowed my brother and I to eat it.”

Although Rola admits that her English is far from perfect, this hasn’t deterred her from writing a book for learners of English, "Speak English with Me." “It’s very easy,” she says. “I’m not perfect speaking English, but I really like to speak English with people.”

Rola isn’t satisfied with working only in Japan. Speaking English is an essential part of the transition she wants to make from being a Japanese tarento to a global media star. “Entertainment is global, and I want to do as much as I can,” she says.

Rola recently bought a home in Los Angeles and is focused on adding her creativity to new areas of entertainment while working on her non-profit educational foundation.

 She says she appreciates the vibe on the streets of LA. “In Japan, I can’t walk on the street. It’s not easy to go to the supermarket… I feel like I can really relax when I’m in LA and I can go anywhere.”

In 2017 she made her first appearance in a Hollywood feature film as the female soldier Cobalt in "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter." “She’s a fighter, she’s tough and very strong. She fights alongside her boyfriend. I really like strong men and strong women. I really wanted to kill a lot of zombies,” she says with a laugh.

Looking ahead, Rola says she wants to balance her career as a tarento in Japan with her new life as a Hollywood actor, writer and singer. “I like to speak my opinion and here [in LA] I can speak more strongly than in Japan. I feel freer in the United States. I like Instagram and showing people in Japan other kinds of fashion — not only kawaii (cute) fashion, to help change people’s thinking in Japan.”

Of her plans for the future, she says, “These days I really want to produce my own thing. It’s important to have a strong heart; I like challenging new things. I never stop. Entertainment is everywhere.”

Sources:

Tokyo Journal, "Japan’s Multicultural Multitalented Model & Actress: Rola - From the Jungles of Bangladesh to the Global Catwalk" (Anthony Al-Jamie, 4th July 2019)

Read more stories from grape Japan.

-- The White Country unveiled: Interview with team behind unconventional Hokkaido tourism video

-- Exhibition in Saitama to display artwork of blackboard illustrator Reina Nakajima

-- Cat purrs its way to enlightenment in the hands of Tokyo’s Great Buddha

© grape Japan

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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Good news about all of this is that it keeps her off of TV constantly like before. Variety shows put her on TV daily playing the ditzy, frank-speaking young woman with annoying laugh. Japan tends to always have the latest one trick pony on TV and she was that at that time. Best of luck in her career and glad she can be taken seriously.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

No mention of her father's criminal activity? He was convicted in March 2015 for defrauding Japan's heath service.

-15 ( +11 / -26 )

No mention of her father's criminal activity?

Why should there be?

18 ( +25 / -7 )

Tokyo-m.... The article is detailing her life, struggles and history in Japan.... Her fathers criminal activities and subsequent conviction are important details.

-5 ( +14 / -19 )

It's amazing how people attack and say negative things about other people in that it's not. Instead of amazing, let's use the word jealous. Or plain outright un-kind. This women is doing the best she can do. She is not hurting anyone. People like you. I like the fact that she tries hard to work instead of some women who stay home and call that work.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

Mr KiplingToday  09:13 am JST

Tokyo-m.... The article is detailing her life, struggles and history in Japan.... Her fathers criminal activities and subsequent conviction are important details.

Not really. Why should the sins of her father be visited on her?

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Gooch... because I would guess that period of her life was much more challenging and important to her struggle than any other. I can also see why they would like to omit it. Having your early life being funded by defrauding the health service is a little embarrassing. Many other" talento" have been cancelled for a lot less.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

I can speak more strongly than in Japan. I feel freer in the United States.

Naomi Osaka, who suffered awful racism in Japan, is a case in point. In the US, speak your mind. In Japan, keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you.

Why should there be?

Because the article attempts to give a fairly detailed description of her background. Not mentioning her father's activities in Japan is clearly a strategic omission that is a disservice to us readers.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

Rola owes her striking looks to her father, who is Bangladeshi, and her mother, who is three-quarters Japanese and one-quarter Russian. 

Since her ties to Japan are clearly linked to her biological mother, one wonders whatever happened to her biological mother.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Having your early life being funded by defrauding the health service is a little embarrassing.

Why would you be embarrassed by what someone else has done? She was in her 20s when her father was arrested. And even if she had been a child, like Gooch says, why should the sins of her father be visited upon her? Why would she be embarrassed by them? She's committed no crimes, she's made her own way in this world and done a great job, good luck to her.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

When nature distributed stunning beauty, complexion to die for, healthy luxurious textured hair, Rola was right at the front of the queue.

I guess the rest of us, toward the back, have to make do.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Even a decade ago, if her father's criminal activities became known, she would have disappeared permanently. Things have loosened up I guess.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Impressive background. I have learned from this article.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some people on this site are pretty petty with their criticisms of Rola.But that's how you stay I guess.I don't care for her,but I have no reason to bish at her either.She's doing her,so you do you...and be positive with it.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

“I was like a monkey — not human. I ate mangos a lot and I had to catch fish with a fishing pole I made myself.I grew up like a man in the jungle“

Well, that's what human did for thousands of years. Nothing wrong with that. At least, she was not in front of a screem 24/24

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@didou

Was just going to write that.

Also, I don't know what the context of that statement was, but if the idea is to perpetuate the stereotype that gaikoku is dangerous and uncivilised, especially if it's Muslim, economic south gaikoku, then well done! If the idea is to promote diversity by a member of a minority using their platform to inform the public... Well, that would be just naive.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I'm glad I got to know a bit more about her professional life and background. While I really can't stand seeing her as "terebi tarento," I still think she's pretty awesome.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The hottest face? Just now or at latest tomorrow morning I have to rush to an ophthalmologist. lol

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

the hottest face

Personally, I think her legs are her most striking feature.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Mr KiplingToday  10:15 am JST

Gooch... because I would guess that period of her life was much more challenging and important to her struggle than any other. I can also see why they would like to omit it. Having your early life being funded by defrauding the health service is a little embarrassing. Many other" talento" have been cancelled for a lot less.

Fair comment, though the article would have to write a fair bit of context into it, and maybe there wasn't the space. In fact, the incident might have done her a backhanded favor in a way, forcing her outside of her comfort zone of playing the ditz on TV and going on to bigger and better things.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

hottest face ???? she dont even look like japanese

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Model Rola, is breathtakingly stunning. Its is pointless to suggest otherwise.

Rola, can on the other hand be an irritating air head on past tarento guest appearances

Maybe it is a act. daft, dim but underneath....

Rola own words ....

“These days I really want to produce my own thing. It’s important to have a strong heart; I like challenging new things. I never stop. Entertainment is everywhere.”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Got to give the girl a chance

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rola.

She's gorgeous! Just the right amount of cute, sexy and beautiful all wrapped up into one!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Rola, can on the other hand be an irritating air head on past tarento guest appearances

Maybe it is a act. daft, dim but underneath....

Of course it's an act. Japanese oyajis eat that stuff up. That's probably why she feels uncomfortable expressing herself in Japan - she has to keep up the dumb act here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It is highly likely that some if not most women on Japanese tv are going to be more interesting and talented than Japanese tv lets them appear to be. All it wants is eye candy that does what it is told.

Some of the comedians may also be much funnier than the moronic formulaic roles and routines Yoshimoto etc. forces them into.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good for her, I hope she makes a lot of money. She has a face for TV but not a voice for radio.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rola is awesome and her life story is incredible. I wish her luck in developing a life-style brand like the Kardassians. I wonder if she has Japanese or Bangladeshi citizenship?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

btw, Rola was doing the OK sign way before the neo-nazis in the US started doing it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

she nacricstic and not the most beautiful chick out here in Jland. in MHO.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I remember watching her on shows and thinking she's a natural airhead, then Arashi did a "day in the life of" kinda show on her, and she totally blew me away seeing her in a business meeting, she was strong and professional. She knew what she was saying and doing and she was totally in charge. So the air-headedness is all a big act. She's good if she can pretend to be an airhead that well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She became rich in Japan walking on the same roads now she doesn't feel relax walking on it. She should just settle in LA for good.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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