Satomi Hofman: Bringing Hapa Pride to Phantom of the Opera

Satomi Hofman: Bringing Hapa Pride to Phantom of the Opera

Alex Chester

OnStage New York Columnist

I am thrilled to have gotten the chance to talk to Satomi Hofmann. She is currently on Broadway performing in “The Phantom of the Opera”. Not only is she talented and beautiful, she has broken down barriers in the entertainment industry.

Ms. Hofmann is an actress, musician, arranger, and composer. Credits include Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera (current cast member), Showtime’s The Affair, and Smart Water’s ‘Shoot Day’ with Jennifer Aniston. Founding member of Killian’s Angels (all female Celtic rock band).

Alex – What makes you Hapa?

Satomi – I’m half Japanese (my mom was from Tokyo) and half German. My grandfather was Yakuza and my mom said their ramen shop was a front for gambling when she was a little girl. He actually got out but remained respected in the community.

Alex – How long have you been performing?

Satomi – As long as I can remember. I started playing piano at 5 (classic Asian upbringing) and spent many years competing and performing. I made the transition to theater in high school, against my mom’s wishes. She became my biggest advocate and saw almost every production I did until she passed in 2014.

Alex – Favorite artistic moment?

Satomi – How do you choose? I always strive to be better than my last performance or project. I love those intangible magic moments- when everything just feels right and you can see where the scene should go next and you somehow know exactly how to guide it there.. Magic.

Alex – How has being Hapa influenced the foods you eat?

Satomi – Ha! I was just discussing this with a friend. My comfort foods include manju and moon cake, gohan-desu-yo with hot steamed white rice, ochazuke, Milky candies… Nothing beats a miso breakfast or cold soba in the summer.

Alex – What’s your favorite food?

Satomi – Sushi. Duh.

Alex – What’s your favorite restaurant?

Satomi – Ooh, that’s tough. I do love all kinds of food. Love Tavola on 9th for Italian. My favorite Japanese place closed (Rio & You) so I’ve been on the hunt for a new one. Lamsinyanka for Polish. Anything on Newark Ave for Indian. You get the idea.

Alex – Best meal you’ve ever had?

Satomi – Anything my mom made. And I know everyone says their mom’s the best cook. Except that EVERYONE said my mom was the best cook. I had roommates who were dreading a week-long visit before they met her and then didn’t want her to go. Yeah. My mom rocked.

Alex – Difficulties in being a Hapa actor?

Satomi – HA! Not being Asian enough or white enough!! I’ve never done a production of The King and I or Miss Saigon- ALWAYS typed out. What’s great is that ethnic ambiguity has steadily become a valuable commodity; what once was a detriment is now an advantage and my agent loves me.

Alex –  Funniest or worst audition story?

Satomi – The script was TERRIBLE. I mean, really and truly GOD AWFUL. I showed up with my (terrible) lines memorized and choices made (with optional choices for this hideous script) and the CD decided to skip ahead mid-scene, complete with saying, ‘blah blah blah… blah blah blah…’ and then started up again with a 3 word line to get me back in, fully expecting me to know where the #*%@ she was. Come to find out, she had done the EXACT same thing to 3 other colleagues of mine. I told my agent to never send me to her again. I’d never done that before. But we got a really good laugh out of it!

Alex –  Favorite family recipe?

Satomi – Mom made a mean pot roast. And gyoza. And I often sautee veggies with soy sauce, sesame oil, sake, and a little sugar.

Alex – Any advice you’d like to pass on to other Hapa’s?

Satomi – Let go of trying to be what you think they want on the other side of the table. We don’t know what they want. What they really want is for you to do the role the way you would do the role and let them decide if what you bring fits with the millions of other choices they have to make in casting a project. Being Hapa is an AWESOME advantage since, by doing absolutely nothing, we already fit into so many categories. So don’t stress about it- you’re ahead of the game!

 For more info on Satomi Hofmann please visit her website: www.satomihofmann.com

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