“I used to get called ‘dark’ or ‘dirty’ and it would bother me a lot. It made me shut myself inside the house, away from people. You see, my father’s Japanese but my mother is Malaysian, so I look this way. Growing up, sometimes random people would say, ‘She’s a foreigner!’ even though I can only speak Japanese. I’d also get turned down for jobs during interviews because I didn’t look like how I sounded on the phone. Of course my self-esteem suffered as a consequence. But then one day, I went to audition for a modeling gig and although I didn’t get the job, I did get shortlisted. That encouraged me to try again. After that, I auditioned for a role in a short film as an immigrant worker and got the part. That was my first acting job and that’s when I realized I could do this as a career. I can shine on screen. You see actors with no confidence strutting in front of the camera all the time. So I got this. Funny enough, those same people who used to make fun of me started congratulating me on the phone, after seeing me on TV or in a magazine. Suddenly, they wanted to be friends with me.”

Rosa is a Japanese-Malaysian model/actress based in Japan. She recently appeared in the TV drama, Mada Kekkon Dekinai Otoko (まだ結婚できない男 The Man Who Still Can’t Get Married) as a convenience store staff worker. Follow her on Instagram: @rosa_yahman

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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