When foreign movie stars are in Tokyo, walking the red carpet at Japan premieres, they invariably stop for a few minutes when Ako Koizumi waves her microphone at them to get a few comments.
It is no coincidence that Koizumi has landed that job for Fox Television’s "Backstage Pass" program. The stylish 27-year-old bubbles with enthusiasm and confidence, whether she is doing TV or radio work. “Life is a gift and I want to make every day count,” she says in fluent English.
Born and raised in Yokohama, Koizumi describes herself then as just a typical Japanese girl who didn’t know anything about other cultures. ”When I was a child, I used to watch TV shows like 'Beverly Hills 90210' and dream of going to California … and I did,” she says. “I spent almost five years in LA, graduated from Santa Monica College, studying communications and I took acting lessons, as well. My goal was to work in show biz, or be a TV reporter in both the U.S. and Japan, sort of a bridge between two cultures.”
While she was in LA, Koizumi saw Kurara Chibana representing Japan at the Miss Universe final in Hollywood in 2006. Feeling inspired, she applied for the Miss Universe Japan contest and came back to Japan for that in 2007, eventually becoming a finalist. “But what really changed my life was shaking hands with Michael Jackson at Narita airport in 2008,” Koizumi recalls. “I had gone to the airport as part of a welcoming group with Kurara, and as I greeted him, it was filmed by Dan Smith, a TV producer for Access Television. He hired me as a TV entertainment reporter and my career started to take shape.”
Since December 2008, Koizumi has been a TV host for "Backstage Pass" (on Fox Japan Saturdays at 1:30 a.m.). She and her fellow reporters are affectionately called “samurai divas” on the program. “Personally, I see myself as more of a ninja,” she quips.
“It’s a lot of fun interviewing movie stars, directors and musicians on the red carpet, and even more so when we do one-on-one interviews because then, I really can get to know them and hear interesting stories,” she says. “Tom Cruise is always great because he makes times for his fans. He looks into your eyes and shows respect. Angelina Jolie is another celebrity I admire for her charity and philosophy on life. Meeting people like her made me realize how being a star can empower you to help people and do something positive for society. That’s something that I want to be able to do.”
Besides her work at Fox, Koizumi appears occasionally on NHK World’s "Tokyo Eye" with Chris Peppler and reports for Pit FM radio, covering F1 races, interpreting and interviewing racing personalities at Tokyo’s F1 Pit Stop Cafe. From May, she will appear on Fox with Dave Spector to host a program called "Go! California," which will come on right before the popular "American Idol." “The final of 'American Idol' final takes place in LA, so 'Go! California' introduces all kinds of hot places in LA, as well as California in general, and we will talk about 'American Idol,' too,” explains Koizumi.
The intensive acting courses Koizumi took in LA and in Japan last summer have also paid off -- she will make her movie debut in the independent short film "It’s All Good," directed by Japan-based Norman England. Starring actor-model Shogen ("Bloody Snake Under the Sun") and singer Stephanie, it focuses on a husband and wife who find themselves philosophically poles apart and the alien parasite that reconciles their relationship. “I play a CNN-type newscaster, reading the news in the background,” says Koizumi. “The movie will be shown at the Yubari film festival in February.”
Being on TV, Koizumi is naturally mindful of what she wears. “I like to be sexy and fashionable, but not trashy. You’ll find me at H&M and Zara just like any other girls around my age. But I also enjoy the dresses we get to wear from designer Tadashi Shoji for red-carpet events. I especially get inspired by fashion whenever I go to New York or LA.”
When she is not working, Koizumi likes to watch romantic movies on DVD and does yoga. “Tokyo can be overwhelming, and it helps me relax,” she says. In future, she would love to do a TV drama or movie in the States and get more involved in charity projects. For the time being, her plate is fairly full (she jokes that some days she wishes she could be cloned). “I’m really enjoying what I am doing now and just have to be patient and see what happens next. Things happen for a reason but unfortunately, they never happen on your timetable,” she says.
For more info on Ako, visit http://ameblo.jp/ako-hollywood/ www.facebook.com/people/Ako-Koizumi/567927572© Japan Today