Actress and playwright Jeanne Sakata has enjoyed a career spanning nearly four decades in television and feature films, stage, voiceover, and writing for stage and screen. Currently rehearsing for the world premiere of Moises Kaufman and Amanda Gronich’s Here There Are Blueberries at La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Kaufman with his renowned Tectonic Theatre Project, Jeanne has also enjoyed recent recurring and guest star roles on ABC-Shondaland’s Station 19, Magnum PI, NCIS Hawai’i, NCIS Los Angeles, Marvel / Hulu’s new hit animation series Hit Monkey, Disney Plus’ High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and Disney’s animation series Big Hero 6. Onstage, Jeanne delighted New York audiences in 2019 as soulful and spunky “Mom” in the Vineyard Theatre’s Off-Broadway premiere of the brilliant comedy Do You Feel Anger? Of her portrayal, New York Times’ Ben Brantley raves: “Ms. Sakata is so touchingly, desperately beseeching that you may feel the need to call your own mother as soon as the curtain falls.”
Jeanne’s celebrated solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Principal Performance and Direction) has been touring the country since 2007. Produced in 2019-21 at San Francisco Playhouse, Sacramento’s Capital Stage, San Diego Rep and Barrington Stage (encore run by audience demand) it has also had extended runs at Arena Stage and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, and sold-out shows with the Guthrie Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, ACT Seattle, and PlayMakers Rep. Hold These Truths recently aired on Philadelphia TV on the PBS station, WHYY TV, in a filmed performance by People’s Light and Theatre, and is also available internationally as a radio play, produced by L.A. Theatre Works. Winning rave reviews from The New Yorker, New York Times, and other AP critics, it has also been produced at the Perseverance Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (Daniel Dae Kim, co-producer), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising, Coachella Valley Rep, Plays and Players, and New Century Theatre. Premiering with the East West Players in Los Angeles, and then Off-Broadway with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, the play was workshopped by the Lark Play Development Center and the New York Theatre Workshop, and is inspired by the true story of Japanese American civil rights giant Gordon Hirabayashi, to whom President Obama posthumously awarded in 2012 a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Hold These Truths, now published by Ageloff Books and available on Amazon, is also on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011.
Jeanne’s latest work, FOR US ALL, a radio play commissioned by LA Theatre Works and inspired by the 1980s coram nobis legal battle of Fred Korematsu, will be broadcast on radio in 2021.
Throughout her more than 30-year career, Jeanne has won accolades for dynamic portrayals in both comedy and drama. Called a “local treasure” by The Los Angeles Times, Jeanne’s screen credits include Jennifer Phang’s internationally acclaimed indie sci-fi film, Advantageous (US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, 2015 Sundance Film Festival, 2016 Film Independent Spirit Award Nomination), and on TV, guest/recurring roles on “Big Hero 6,” “Dr. Ken,” Bravo’s “True Fiction,” “NCIS Angeles,” “NUMB3RS,” Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Presidio Med,” “ER,” “Threat Matrix,” “Line of Fire,” “American Family,” John Ridley’s “I Got You,” “Hiroshima,” and “Sex and Marriage,” a Justin Lin YOMYOMF YouTube webseries. Onstage, Jeanne has played opposite such legendary actors as Chita Rivera, Estelle Parsons, and the late Raul Julia at the Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, American Conservatory Theater, Sundance Theatre Institute, Berkeley Rep, Intiman Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage, People’s Light, Syracuse Stage and the Arizona Theatre Company, and she is a member of LA’s acclaimed classical group, the Antaeus Company. She has also recently narrated two audiobooks, Sequoia Nagamatsu’s acclaimed How High We Go in the Dark, and Domenico Starnone’s Trust, translated from the original Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Special honors: Los Angeles Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Chay Yew’s RED, East West Players; 2016 Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre; City of Pasadena Certificate of Recognition for Hold These Truths; Monaco Charity Film Festival Best Actress Award (Adultolescence), Stage Scene Outstanding Performance mention (Master Class), Entertainment Today Best Supporting Actress Award (A Winter People), and the Drama-Logue Outstanding Performance Award (The Maids).