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Adelaide "Reina" Amissah

Course studied:
Computing & Japanese Language and Contemporary Society

Bilingual (English/Japanese) voice actor, and TV and stage actor in Japan (stage name: Reina).

Adelaide Amissah

Why did you decide to do the course?

I was looking for joint degree universities and was attracted to the ability of combining any 2 subjects together as you liked. It was then when I came across the ‘Japanese language and contemporary society’ course, that I saw that I could begin from absolute beginner’s level and a small voice popped into my head saying:

“Wouldn’t it be cool to not only pursue voice acting in English, but to also study Japanese and to get into voice acting school someday and graduate!?”

To which I agreed with my inner voice and the rest is history! In other words, Oxford Brookes became the catalyst for this crazy dream of mine. (It took 11 years from thought to graduation though…)

What did you like best about the course once you were here?

Computing: The knowledgeable lecturers in their respective fields. The 24hr computer access we had - which reeeeally helped for meeting those deadlines and all the group projects that we had.

Japanese: The amazing kind and fun Japanese language teachers at the time (Kumiko Halliwell and Yoko Ono). The gorgeous Japanese tea room, which we were able to use for activities in the Gibbs Building. The close knit community of the students and Japanese exchange students.

I’d say I owe it to Brookes for giving me the inspiration... It was the catalyst to my dream!

Do you think the course has helped you in your future career? If so how?

It was the catalyst to my dream. I’d say I owe it to Brookes for giving me the inspiration and the starting line!

The amazing kind and fun Japanese language teachers at the time. (Kumiko Halliwell and Yoko Ono, who are no longer at Brookes), made learning such an incredibly difficult language, so much fun!

What did you like about life in Oxford?

Laughs... I’m from London so Oxford to me was a little quaint town that was overly crowded with students from both universities and the traffic was terrible. (I wonder if it’s still the same...) Rather the students, the amazing, amazing BSU that was in the Helena Kennedy Centre, the facilities and the amazing library all made it a pleasant and amazing experience during my time there. Rather than ‘Oxford’, it was the things and people in it that I liked and enjoyed.

Is there anything about being in Oxford that helped you with your studies?

Yes. For our graduation research projects, final year students could have special access to Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, which proved to be an invaluable source for me. The co-operation between the two universities is nice.

Did you become involved with any societies or other groups within Brookes?

I was member of the Brookes University Japanese Society (Oct 2002 - May 2006) including as Social Secretary (Sept 2003 - July 2004).

All of my friends, both Japanese and British were made from this society, the majority (around 20) who I still keep in touch with today and have been truly supporting me through the last more than 15 years in Japan from across the seas.

I was also involved with the musical society Fortune Tellers. I performed in their summer shows Cabaret (2003) and Little Shop of Horrors (2004), which we performed in the main hall in the Headington Campus in June.

What did you do after leaving Brookes?

2008-2013

  • Oct 2008: Returned to Japan with only a passport, return ticket and my big dream. Also overcame hardships from the Lehman Brothers shock that occurred the month I left the UK.
  • 11th March 2011: Tohoku Earthquake occurs, Fukushima nuclear troubles begin.
  • April 2011: Through a very difficult and desperate time in Japan, I realised that I couldn’t throw away my dream and remained in Tokyo to enrol into the 2 year course at a Japanese voice acting school.
  • March 2013: My 11 year old dream came true. Graduated with honours.

March 2013-April 2015

Upon achieving my lifelong dream in March 2013, things kind of came together on their own which lead to me being affiliated with a Japanese acting agency called TAB Productions, as a bilingual voice actor and actress for 2 years.

During those two years, I was invited to star in my first official public event (a live chat show / narration challenge) by a Japanese "Benshi" (silent film narrator) called Ichiro Kataoka.

Benshi are a unique phenomenon in Japan, borne from the old tradition of spoken performance arts like rakugo. They provided narration and character voices for the old silent movies (think Laurel and Hardy or Charlie Chaplin) for Japanese people. Up to 7000 were active in the 1920s, less than 10 remain active now.

April 2015-now as a freelancer

Theatre Highlights:

  • Apr 2016 - Was honoured to play Hafsat Abiola, a Nigerian female activist in this global documentary play to raise global women’s rights called SEVEN
  • Oct-Nov 2016 - Performed in a rare international collaboration between Japan and The UK, by playing Tituba in "The Crucible" with an all Japanese A-list cast. The entire project was 10 weeks led by the Royal Shakespeare Company affiliated director, Jonathan Munby. 
  • Sep 2017 – Performed in my first official performance as a Japanese voice actor in a dramatic reading recital called ‘Asu no Tobira.’ That was audition based and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to perform in Japanese again.

Voicework Highlights:

30-minute English narration for The Hoki - a realist painting museum in Chiba, Japan.

The future

I continue to work hard on my skills in hope of catching the “big break” someday to make it as an actress and will plan to continue improving my Japanese skills. I aim to work both in English and in Japanese in London and Tokyo and really want to gain ordinary roles in Japanese to create new realities in storytelling and the enjoyment of theatre or anime in Japan.

It’s a very tough goal but I’ve proven to myself that with hard work and a strong vision, manifesting seemingly impossible dreams into reality is 100% possible. Other people's 'no' doesn't define the limits of your possibilities, it just helps you find another path to your goal.

Looking at the Brookes prospectus back in March 2002 gave birth to the idea for my crazy dream and I could only find it fitting to report to you all of how I’m doing, as well as trying to make it to the stars on the wings of your love and support.

It did what a good university is meant to do, which is offer a world of opportunities and support to aid you in your career choices post graduation.

This ‘post-dream-come-true’ stage of my life was something I had never imagined but it has blessed with me various challenges and opportunities that allow me to grow stronger as an actress and as a person these past 10 years.

Of course I when make it, I’ll be carrying the Brookes flag all the way with me, for helping me find my path in life. Thank you all very much!

2018