Jeanne Sakata

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Actress/playwright Jeanne Sakata in LA in 2013, photo by Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata is an Asian American film, television and stage actress and playwright.

Jeanne Sakata is known for her witty roles that provoke public conversation about culturally significant topics. Her work spans across theater, film and television, with ongoing multiple productions of her award-winning solo play Hold These Truths. In 2015, Jeanne was recognized for her comic turn in LA Times Critic’s Choice Figaro, and her work in Jennifer Phang’s acclaimed indie sci-fi film, Advantageous, which garnered the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision[1] at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival before being featured at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the San Francisco Film Society, and premiering on Netflix in June 2015.


Throughout her more than 30-year career, Jeanne has been honored for her dynamic and thought-provoking characterizations in both comedy and drama. Called a “local treasure” by the Los Angeles Times,[2] she earned the LA Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress for her cross-gender portrayal of Master Hua in Chay Yew’s Red, the Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre Outstanding Artist Award, the 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).

Stage Performances

Jeanne has centered her career on the Southern Californian stage, developing new works and performing with the La Jolla Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Sundance Theatre Institute and Ojai Playwrights Conference, as well as East West Players, the nation’s premiere Asian American theatre. She has also performed with The Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, American Conservatory Theater, Northlight Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Syracuse Stage and the Arizona Theatre Company, and is a member of LA’s classical group the Antaeus Company.

Screen Credits

Jeanne’s screen credits include NCIS Los Angeles, NUMB3RS, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives, Presidio Med, ER, Threat Matrix, Line of Fire, American Family, John Riley’s I Got You, Hiroshima, and Sex and Marriage, a Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6) YOMYOMF YouTube webseries.

Hold These Truths

One of Jeanne’s career achievements includes her debut as the playwright of Hold These Truths, formerly known as Dawn’s Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi, which earned a 2013 Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance.[3] Hold These Truths, which will make its mainstage debut as part of Seattle ACT’s 50th Anniversary Mainstage Season was inspired by the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Obama. The play presents a moving portrayal of a University of Washington Japanese-American student who, during WWII, fights US government policies to mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast while struggling to reconcile his beloved country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution. Since its world premiere in 2007 at East West Players, the rhapsodic play has been performed across the country, with sold-out performances at Seattle ACT Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company, People’s Light & Theatre, the Epic Theatre Ensemble, Chautauqua Theatre Company, and Silk Road Rising. Markedly, it was workshopped by the Lark Play Development Center, the Dartmouth Residency at the New York Theatre Workshop, and co-produced with Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii 5-0) for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. With its timeless themes, Hold These Truths attracted unanimous rave reviews from The New Yorker, Washington Post and AP critics, as well as additional raves across the country. The script, published in Japan Studies Association Journal in 2010, is 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.

Personal Life

Jeanne resides in Los Angeles with her husband Tim, and together they enjoy cooking and baking, traveling, reading, writing, hiking and singing.


  1. ^ "2015 Award Winners" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. 
  2. ^ Nichols, David. "A 'Figaro' that crackles and pops at A Noise Within". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ "2013 Drama Desk Awards". Drama Desk Awards. 

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