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A. Umezawa Headshot #2.jpg




"I get the sense that people want me to be something they can name. They want to figure out what box to put me in so they can point to something they already know and say, “Ah, I understand you now.” The problem is that as a person of mixed heritage I was born into a space that is hard to define. I’m white, but I’m not. I’m Japanese, but I’m not. I check “Other” on application forms because that’s the truth. I don’t fit into any box.


Throughout my professional and personal life, people have assigned me many labels. I’ve even added a few myself: Woman, Canadian, Japanese, Friend, Colleague, Producer, Director, Disruptor. Each makes sense when used to describe me, but picking one never seems to capture the full picture.


If I have to be put in a box, let mine house a maze of mirrors. My labels would become colourful shapes. They would twist and bend in on themselves, creating complicated pictures that appear for a brief moment before melting into the next like a kaleidoscope. All I would have to do is rotate the image to discover a new facet of my identity.

Art allows me to transcend that box. It can be anything it wants to be, and different to everyone who encounters it. It has been labelled and re-labelled, and still finds ways to push past what we believe is possible. Through art, we see our potential is truly limitless.


I believe we all have our own unique collection of labels, and boxes that don’t quite fit. I believe our identities are never in stasis. I work with designers, singers, and conductors to reframe and challenge our perceptions of the stories we think we know. I work with organizations to better understand their audiences and communities, and create shows that find resonance with their local, intersecting cultures. I hold space for collaboration and believe that art is made better when every individual knows they can bravely bring their whole creative selves to the process. 


I work in opera because we make sense of who we are and how we are changing through storytelling, and opera is an artform that urges us to listen. I create because I want us all to break free of our boxes. I aspire to a world where every person is valued as a constantly evolving human, and celebrated for all of their labels."

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