Yoko Ono catapulted to fame as the wife of John Lennon. For many, she also bares responsibility for the breakup of the most beloved band ever, The Beetles. But, to at least one – she became an inspiration.
Actress ANZU LAWSON
reveals how this iconic Japanese-American influenced her own journey of self-discovery in the new one-woman show “DEAR YOKO.”
Based on her life, Anzu weaves together a tale spanning years of domestic violence, suicidal ideations, drug addiction and sexual harassment.
Anzu premiered "Dear Yoko" at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in September and will take it to the Binge Fringe Festival in Santa Monica on November 9th and to SoloFest in early 2020.
Anzu is also known for her recurring role as Ashley Kim on NBC’s medical drama, “Chicago Med.” She also starred opposite Viggo Mortensen in the film, “American Yakuza”; and appeared on “The Blacklist,” “Fuller House,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Ray Donovan,” “CSI: Cyber,” “Mom,” “The Young & the Restless” and more.
I recently caught up with Anzu Lawson to find out more about “Dear Yoko”:
Tell us about your solo show ‘Dear Yoko’.
Anzu Lawson: My "Dear Yoko" one woman show is a goodbye letter to my mother Keiko, who recently passed, an 8-year love letter to Yoko Ono, whom I've "yet to meet" and a hello letter to "the real Anzu"…thanks to these two strong-willed Asian women who shaped my life, and made me the empowered female artist and storyteller that I am today.
Why did you want to create this show?
AL: In 2011, my acting teacher looked at me and asked if I had ever thought about playing Yoko Ono. Even though I am half-Japanese, I had no idea (like many still today) the life and the contributions this forward-thinking petite Asian woman has given the world, contrary to popular belief. I know what it's like to be judged, overlooked and misunderstood. Thanks to Yoko Ono, I now know it's my life purpose to tell stories of "women in history" that were the underdogs, who beat to their own drum... despite the odds... and despite what anybody says.
What would you consider Yoko Ono’s ‘best’ quality?
AL: Even though the world still tries to make her a scapegoat, Yoko never assumes the role or identifies as a victim. She will always turn something negative and painful... into something positive for the world.
Any negative ones?
AL: Ha! She is very hard to reach.
Your solo show started out as a movie musical; what can you tell us about that?
AL: It started out as a story/screenplay that I was compelled to tell; for the 1st time from Yoko's perspective, that slowly grew into an all original 28 song Broadway ready musical, that has now come full circle back to a gritty and extremely personal one woman show about my immigrant single tiger mom, what it means to grow up Asian in a whitewashed America, and making a mark as a female artist in post #metoo Hollywood.
Biggest lesson you’ve learned from working on this project?
AL: Every "no" is leading you to your true "yes"; and life is better if you don't look for joy, worth or validation outside of yourself.
And, now just for fun:
Who’s your favorite actor/actress?
AL: I get extremely excited about 'fearless" actors. Actors who constantly challenge their own comfort level and aren't afraid to "go there" like Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoneix, Melissa Leo, Patrica Arquette.
What role from the past do you wish you could have played?
AL: I love the writing in TV for women these days. I would have loved to have sinked my teeth into the Golden Globe-winning role portrayed by the amazing Jodie Comer in "Killing Eve." The pathology of that character is so delicious.
Favorite movie or TV show from your childhood.
AL: I will be very upset if anyone attempts to remake "Breakfast Club". I will be very very mad at them. Haha!
Tell us one thing that would surprise our readers to learn about you.
AL: Surprised? hmm. When I first came to LA, I tested to be a Playboy centerfold. I wish I had those pictures now. I heard they're locked up in a vault somewhere in Chicago, never to be seen again.
How can fans keep up with you?
AL: I'm pretty stalkable. LOL. I'm on IG: @anzulawson link
and I'm on Twitter @AnzuLawson link
and Facebook AnzuLawsonOfficial link
Thanks, Anzu -- and no doubt you'll be inspiring others, too!
For more about "Dear Yoko" visit: www.DearYoko.com link
Anzu Lawson in "Dear Yoko"