"DAY OF INDEPENDENCE" - Cast Biographies - synopsis | cast | creative team | donors | calendar | to order


DEREK MIO (Zip) Derek will be a Senior next year attending the University of Southern California as he continues to be a Film Production major in the School of Cinema and Television. Attracted to working on both sides of the camera, he directed five short films this past semester and has also sought acting roles in TV commercials and student films for the past year. Zip provides him with his first prominent acting role in film or television. When Derek is not making films or acting he enjoys playing basketball, hanging out with friends, and bodyboarding in his hometown of Huntington Beach, California.

MARCUS TOJI (Hog) Acting since he was 4, Marcus has been seen on television in commercials for Chevrolet, AT&T, and American Express, and in episodic TV, including ER, BEVERLY HILLS 90210, and more recently, BOSTON PUBLIC and THE WEST WING. He has been heard voicing animated shows such as HBO's HAPPILY EVER AFTER, HEY ARNOLD, the upcoming FILLMORE, and he also narrated the video DEAR MISS BREED in the "Once Upon a Camp" series for the Japanese American National Museum. Theatrically he appeared in LITTLE GIANTS, CORINNA, CORINNA and MAX KEEBLE'S BIG MOVE. Currently he is one of the Zoog Disney Movie Surfers, and can be seen in the movie, RIGHT ON TRACK, both for the Disney Channel. He graduated June 2002 from Beverly Hills High School with Honors and received the Four Year Theater Achievement Award. He plans to continue both his college education and his acting career, and is looking forward to being a part of DAY OF INDEPENDENCE.

CHRIS TASHIMA (Umpire) An award-winning actor, Chris has appeared in numerous independent films including, Elizabeth Sung's short, REQUIEM, opposite Tamlyn Tomita, and Rea Tajiri's STRAWBERRY FIELDS, starring Suzy Nakamura. He has starred in two features from Sherwood Hu: LANI LOA - THE PASSAGE, where he plays the evil gangster, Bong, opposite Angus MacFadyen, and his latest turn as the tortured artist Yu in the ensemble drama ON THE ROOF, currently in post-production. He has worked extensively in theatre, and has appeared on stages from New York to Seattle since his acting career began 18 years ago. He got his start at East West Players, where among his many credits are RASHOMON, MISHIMA and THE MEMENTO. Among his favorite stage roles are Ming in the world premiere of Chay Yew's A LANGUAGE OF THEIR OWN at the Celebration Theartre (garnering an LA Weekly Theater Award), Windrider in Laurence Yep's DRAGONWINGS, which he originated at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara in Tim Toyama's VISAS AND VIRTUE at the Road Theatre Company. In 1998, Chris received an Academy AwardŽ for his screen adaptation of VISAS AND VIRTUE, which he co-wrote and directed as a short film, and reprised his role as the Holocaust rescuer Sugihara.

ALAN MURAOKA (Father) He is most recognizable as Alan, the new proprietor of Hooper's Store on the Emmy Award winning series SESAME STREET, but Alan has an extensive Broadway career which includes THE KING AND I, MY FAVORITE YEAR, SHOGUN - THE MUSICAL, MAIL and MISS SAIGON, in the lead role of The Engineer. National tours include M. BUTTERFLY, MISS SAIGON, and two companies of ANYTHING GOES. Off-Broadway and Regional credits include productions with the National Asian American Theater Company, The Public Theatre, Circle Rep Lab, Minnesota Opera, Stage West, Cincinnati Playhouse, Papermill Playhouse and East West Players. Film credits include IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. Other Television credits include AS THE WORLD TURNS, GUIDING LIGHT, and THE TONIGHT SHOW, and he can be seen in the videos ELMO VISITS THE FIREHOUSE, ELMO'S MAGIC COOKBOOK, and SESAME STREET'S LET'S MAKE MUSIC. Also a Director, Alan received acclaim for his Off-Broadway revival of FALSETTOLAND, and he is the Director in Residence for Second Generation Productions in New York. www.AlanMuraoka.net

KEIKO KAWASHIMA (Mother) Keiko has been a professional singer, actress and dancer for seventeen years. She is a member of The Grateful Crane Ensemble - a collaboration of Japanese American and Japanese National performers who provide bi-monthly entertainment programs for the Japanese American seniors in Southern California. In addition, she serves as the troupe's Music Coordinator. Theatre credits include AMERICAN DREAM, A JIVE BOMBER'S CHRISTMAS, HANUMAN AND THE MONKEY KING, REMEMBER, COMPANY, MISHIMA and A CHORUS LINE. Television voice-over credits include SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH (animated), EEK THE CAT, BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURES, and various projects in Japan. As a singer, she has performed live at numerous Los Angeles venues, community events and has also participated in various R&B, pop, and jazz recordings (English and Japanese).

GINA HIRAIZUMI (Rose) Gina recently signed onto her first starring role in a studio feature, HERE COMES THE SUN, opposite rap star Fabolous. Other film roles includes Katelyn in KINGSTON HIGH from Artisan Entertainment, and Asia, perhaps her most groundbreaking performance, in SOAP GIRL, named one of the "most controversial Asian American films of the year." On television, she can be seen as Minako on the new FX series LUCKY starring John Corbett. She also recurred on ABC's soap opera PORT CHARLES, while guest starring credits include the NBC teen series, CITY GUYS, the MTV series, SPYDER GAMES and the WB pilot CLOSE TO HOME with Gabrielle Union. Also a rising recording star, Gina's much anticipated album releases in Japan later this year. Her unique mixture of hip-hop/R&B, coupled with her bilingual singing ability in English/Japanese has attracted industry attention from many, including Writer-Producer Mark Brown (BARBERSHOP), who booked her on a Japan concert tour with rap star, Snoop Dogg. A product of a mother from Japan and a third-generation Japanese-American father, Gina was born and raised in Gardena, California.