Anna Akana

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Anna Akana
Anna Akana at 2018 Vidcon EU.png
Akana at VidCon Amsterdam in March 2018
Anna Kay Akana

(1989-08-18) August 18, 1989 (age 29)
ResidenceLos Angeles, California
  • Actress
  • filmmaker
  • producer
  • comedian
YouTube information
Years active2010–present
Total views268,806,196
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg 1,000,000 subscribers
Subscriber and view counts updated as of November 5, 2018.

Anna Kay Akana (born August 18, 1989) is an American actress, filmmaker, author, and comedian. She is known for her YouTube channel, which has over 2 million subscribers and over 226 million video views.[1]

Early life[edit]

Anna Akana was born August 18, 1989.[2] Her ancestry is Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Irish, German, Spanish, French, and English.[3] Akana's father was an officer in the United States Marine Corps as she grew up.[4] Her family moved every few years to a new state or country. As a result, Akana picked up several languages including Japanese and Spanish.

On Valentine's Day 2007, Akana's 13-year-old sister, Kristina, died by suicide.[5] Several months after her sister's death, Akana watched Margaret Cho perform on a Comedy Central special and laughed for the first time since the suicide. She began to see laughter as a means of trying to move on with her life and decided to seriously pursue comedy.[6] Akana is very vocal about her sister's suicide and is a strong advocate for suicide prevention. In 2013, Akana uploaded a YouTube video called "please don't kill yourself" where she explains how it felt for her to have a family member die by suicide.[7] In that same year, she released a book called Surviving Suicide which contains her journal entries from the two years after her sister's death.[8]


Akana first started performing comedy at the age of 19 but ended up switching her platform to YouTube in 2011 after experiencing massive panic attacks and anxiety before going on stage.[6] Akana has since resumed performing stand-up.


In 2014, Akana formed a comedy music duo called Cat Benatar with fellow comedian and writer Megan Rosati.[9]

Akana creates both comedy and documentary YouTube videos.[10] In 2014, Akana was listed on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels, ranked at #72.[11] In that same year, Akana decided to focus more on her skills as a director and attempted to make one short film a month.[12] While she did not reach her goal of 12, she did make six short films which were received well by her YouTube audience. Akana starred in all of her short films and has starred in various other short films produced by other YouTube stars. Akana has since continued to create short films.[13]

One of her short films, titled Miss Earth was partially financed by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's production company, New Form Digital. It was part of the 2014 Incubator, a series to showcase and produce original stories by YouTube Creators and filmmakers.[14][15][16] Miss Earth was later adapted into a web series retitled Miss 2059 and released on Verizon's go90 app in June 2016, with a second season released in late 2017.[17][18][19][20][21]

Akana executive produced and starred as the lead role in the original comedy-drama web television series Youth & Consequences, created by Jason Ubaldi and released in March 2018 on YouTube Red.

Film and television[edit]

In 2011, Akana appeared in the TV series Awkward. In that same year, she also appeared as an extra in Katy Perry's Last Friday Night music video.[22]

In 2015, she appeared in the films Ant-Man and Kids vs Monsters.

Akana starred in a scripted video series distributed via Snapchat, titled SnapperHero.[23] The series was sponsored by AT&T.[23]

In 2016, Akana appeared alongside Sally Field in the indie comedy film Hello, My Name Is Doris, written by Michael Showalter.[24] That same year, she also appeared in a short Star Wars fan film called Hoshino.[25]

She had a guest role in the Comedy Central show Corporate.[26]

Other ventures[edit]

In 2015, Akana released a clothing line called Ghost & Stars, which features several cat-themed designs as well as formal dresses, leggings, and a variety of T-shirts.[27]

Akana also hosts the podcast Explain Things to Me with fellow comedian Brad Gage where the two interview experts in various fields about their work.[28]

In 2017, Akana's book titled So Much I Want to Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister was published. The book describes Akana's struggles and experiences growing up and offers advice to her late sister.[29]

Critical reception[edit]

In reviewing her video, “Why Guys Like Asian Girls" (which references "Yellow Fever", a term for an Asian fetish)[30] Cate Matthews of The Huffington Post wrote: "A step-by-step takedown of 'yellow fever' or the desire to date Asian women often accompanied by bizarre, offensive attempts to do so, could start the healing. Luckily for us, YouTuber Anna Akana was more than up to the video-making task."[31]

In reviewing her video, "How to Deal with a Breakup", MTV wrote: "In this sketch, comedian Anna Akana envisions the flurry of activity inside the cranial command centre of a newly single dumpee."[32]

Deadline referred to Akana as "a prolific online creator whose channel boasts 60 million views and 900,000 subscribers, and last year wrote and starred in her own narrative feature Riley Rewind, scoring a none-too-shabby 20M views online."[24]

Personal life[edit]

In 2018 Akana came out as a queer woman during her acceptance speech for a Streamy Award. On social media she wrote it was the first time she came out publicly as bisexual.[33]


Feature films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Inappropriate Comedy Student driver
2014 Here She Is Miss Hawaii Also writer
2015 Ant-Man Writer
Kids vs Monsters Daisy
2016 Hello, My Name Is Doris Blogger
Dirty 30 Ashley Driscoll
2017 You Get Me Lydia
2018 Next Gen Ani Voice role
TBA Go Back to China Sasha Li Filming


Year Title Episode Role Notes
2011 Awkward "Knocker Nightmare" Asian girl
2012 Shake It Up "Made in Japan" Tomoka
The Beauty Inside 5 episodes Alex #29
2013–2014 The Fosters 2 episodes Lily
2016 Adam Ruins Everything "Adam Ruins Shopping Malls" Female Shopper
2017 Stitchers 7 episodes Amanda Weston Recurring Role
2018 Corporate 4 episodes Paige Recurring Role
2018 Big City Greens 11 episodes Gloria Voice role; recurring

Web series[edit]

Year Title Episode Role Notes
2011 Breaking Los Angeles 9 episodes Herself Also producer
10 Second Traumas 8 episodes Various Also a writer, executive producer and director
2012 Pointy Teeth "Pilot" Anna
2013 Riley Rewind 5 episodes Riley Brown Also writer and producer
2015 52 Ways to Break Up "#24 and #25- Compare Notes" Anna
Command Center Commander Also writer and director
Broken People 2 episodes Pinches
Last Moments of Relationships "CRAZY DATING STORIES" Fay
Stunted Nora
Oscar's Hotel for Fantastical Creatures 5 episodes The White Spirit
Adult Wednesday 2 episodes - Executive producer
Rough Day Detective Mah-jong Also executive producer
MisSpelled "#HotlineWing" Stella
#Cybriety "Neighbor Ellen" Ellen
2016 Hipsters 3 episodes Jane Also director
Tiny Feminists "Linda" Ms. Applebaum
This Isn't Working 5 episodes Nicole
Transformers: Combiner Wars 4 episodes Victorion Voice role
Single by 30 6 episodes Grace
12 Deadly Days "Coffee Cups" Judalina
Go-Go Boy Interrupted 10 episodes - Co-producer
Miss 2059 24 episodes Victoria Young Also creator, executive producer and director
2017 Drive Share "Garbage Mommy" Driver
Search Bar 12 episodes Various Also creator, executive producer and director
2018 Youth & Consequences 8 episodes Farrah Also creator and executive producer

Music videos[edit]

Year Artist(s) Title Role
2011 Katy Perry "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" Extra


Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2014 San Diego Asian Film Festival Digital Pioneer[34] Won
2015 Streamy Awards Best Actress SnapperHero Nominated
2018 Streamy Awards Acting in a Drama Youth & Consequences Won [35]


  1. ^ "YouTube: Anna Akana". YouTube. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  2. ^ "Facebook: Anna Akana". Facebook.
  3. ^ "Japanese Hawaiian Filipino etc". Twitter. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  4. ^ "My dad was right". YouTube. March 11, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  5. ^ "Surviving Suicide". GoodReads. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Luhar, Monica (November 13, 2015). "Anna Akana is 'Chasing Laughs' and Telling Stories". NBC News. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  7. ^ Akana, Anna (September 27, 2013). "please don't kill yourself". YouTube. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  8. ^ Akana, Anna. "Surviving Suicide". GoodReads. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  9. ^ "be uncomfortable". YouTube. March 14, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  10. ^ Yu, Tiffany. "How Death Shed New Light on 'Riley Rewind' Actress Anna Akana's Life". Mochi Magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  11. ^ "The NMR Top 100 YouTube Channels: 75-51!". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  12. ^ "Focus//Anna Akana". YouTube. February 7, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  13. ^ "Anna Akana- Short films". Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  14. ^ "Incubator Series | New Form Digital". Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "Filmmaker Spotlights | New Form Digital". Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  16. ^ "New Form Digital Press Kit 2016" (PDF). 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  17. ^ Spangler, Todd (September 25, 2015). "Verizon's Go90 Orders 6 Series from New Form Digital (Exclusive)". Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  18. ^ Hamedy, Saba. "Anna Akana takes action in New Form Digital's 'Miss 2059'". Mashable. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  19. ^ Dry, Jude (June 20, 2016). "Watch: Exclusive Clip From New Form Digital's 'Miss 2059,' Starring Anna Akana". Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  20. ^ "MISS 2059 | OFFICIAL TRAILER". go90. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  21. ^ "Miss 2059 go90 page". Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  22. ^ "Last Friday Night (2011)". IMDB. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  23. ^ a b Jarvey, Natalie (January 29, 2015). "AT&T Launches Scripted Series on Snapchat". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 23, 2015. The series, SnapperHero, stars YouTubers Anna Akana, Freddie Wong, Harley Morenstein, and Jasmeet Singh alongside Snapchat celeb Shaun McBride, who also served as creative director.
  24. ^ a b Yamato, Jen (July 11, 2014). "'Hello, My Name Is Doris' Uploads YouTuber Anna Akana". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  25. ^ "Hoshino - Star Wars Fan Film" YouTube. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  26. ^ "Corporate Scripted Series". Comedy Central Press. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  27. ^ "Ghost & Stars". Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  28. ^ "Explain Things to Me". iTunes. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  29. ^ "So Much I Want to Tell You". Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  30. ^ Akana, Anna. "Why Guys Like Asian Girls". Youtube. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  31. ^ Matthews, Cate (July 29, 2014). "Here's What 'Yellow Fever' Really Means". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  32. ^ Williott, Carl (April 29, 2015). "After A Breakup, Your Brain Basically Becomes An Episode Of '24'". MTV. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  33. ^ Katzowitz, Josh. "YouTube star Anna Akana comes out as queer during Streamys speech". The Daily Dot. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  34. ^ "Digital Pioneer Award". SDAFF. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  35. ^ "Acting in a Drama - Streamy Awards 2018: Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 23, 2018.

External links[edit]