Anna Sawai

Anna Sawai
Anna Sawai
Who is:
Birth date:
(31 y.o.)
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5'1 ft ()
110 lb (50 kg)
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Biography of Anna Sawai

Anna Sawai's career took off rapidly from the start. In 2004, at the age of 12, the Japanese actress shone in a TV musical, and just a few years later, she made it to Hollywood. Then, Anna decided to realize her childhood dream of becoming a successful singer. The girl group 'Faky' with Anna as the lead vocalist delighted fans with hits for five years. However, in 2018, at the height of success, Anna realized that acting was her true calling and left the group.

The risk paid off: a year later, she starred in "Fast & Furious 9" alongside renowned Hollywood stars. And by 2024, Sawai herself had become a celebrity thanks to the role of Mariko, which she played in the extremely popular series "Shogun."
Actress Anna Sawai
Actress Anna Sawai

Early Years

Anna Sawai was born on June 11, 1992. Her parents are ethnic Japanese. Her mother was an opera singer who later started teaching piano lessons. Her father worked at an electronics manufacturing company. Due to his job, the family moved frequently. Anna was born in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, where she lived for the first couple of years of her life. Later, they lived in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

In 1995, her mother began teaching Anna and her older sister Reina how to play the piano and sing. Reina always preferred dancing and eventually became a ballerina. Anna, on the other hand, was more inclined towards music. From the age of seven, she was a big fan of Britney Spears: "I remember watching Britney's concert videos. It was my dream to do that – I wanted to be like Britney Spears".

In 2002, the Sawai family settled in Yokohama, Japan. Back in her parents' homeland, Anna made her acting debut. In 2004, the 12-year-old girl landed the lead role in the Tokyo version of the musical "Annie", beating out 9,000 other children at the audition. The show was broadcast by Japan's most prestigious TV channel, Nippon TV.

Two years later, Anna passed the audition for the 'J-pop' project, a sort of training camp for musically gifted youth established by the production company Avex.

In 2007, Sawai played a minor role in the Japanese drama "Our Song of Love". Two years later, the young actress made her Hollywood debut – she played Kiriko, a supporting character in the thriller "Ninja Assassin". Meanwhile, Anna managed to attend high school, as well as take vocal and dance lessons. "At one point, I was taking lessons – tap dance, dancing, walking, singing, and all that – they were every day of the week," Anna later recalled.

Music Career

In 2010, the young woman enrolled in university. During her studies, Anna began collaborating with the record label Avex Trax. In March 2012, the aspiring singer performed the United States national anthem at the Tokyo Dome stadium. This performance marked the beginning of a new baseball league season.

In April, Sawai joined the female pop group "Avex Rising Angels" (ARA). By the end of the year, the group released the single "Make My Dreams Come True" and filmed a music video for the song. Failing to achieve convincing success, the girl band disbanded in early 2013.
A few months later, Anna returned to the stage, this time as the lead vocalist of the group "Faky." The group consisted of five girls, with Sawai being its recognized leader.

The group's name had several interpretations: an acronym for "(FA)ntastic" and "To(KY)o," an abbreviation of "(F)ive (A)ss (K)icking (Y)oungsters," and it also referred to the word "Fake," implying that the group would bring something new to the Japanese music scene and represent the real world, unlike other numerous J-pop groups.

The group's first single was "Better Without You." In July 2014, they released their first album "The One," followed by an announcement of a career hiatus.

In the fall of the following year, they returned with a slightly altered lineup. In May 2016, the group released their second album "Candy." Their next album "Unwrapped" was released in June 2017.

During this time, Anna also took part in solo projects. In October 2015, she landed a role in the music video for Elliott Yamin's song "Katy." In April 2017, the singer was a featured performer on the artist Yamato's single "Shining."

At the end of 2018, Sawai announced her departure from the group and the end of her music career to focus on her acting profession.

Acting Career

In 2018, Anna played a supporting role in the multi-part thriller "Colors." A year later, she appeared in the British series "Giri/Haji," landing the role of a Yakuza boss's daughter. Critics spoke quite favorably about her performance.

Soon after, Anna landed a breakthrough role in Hollywood. In 2019, she joined the cast of the action film "Fast & Furious 9." She portrayed a young girl named Elle, who had lost her parents and was keeping an important secret. Her character helped the protagonists in Tokyo.
F9 - Anna Sawai Exclusive
On set, Anna had the chance to work with Vin Diesel and John Cena. "Everyone was so welcoming, but obviously, I was very nervous being a newcomer who appeared out of nowhere," the actress recalled.

The film premiered in May 2021 and received mixed reviews. However, critics recognized Sawai, noting that she held her own onscreen alongside the franchise veterans.

In 2022, the actress landed the role of Naomi in the Apple TV+ series "Pachinko." The project is based on the novel by Min Jin Lee, but Anna's character was created specifically for the adaptation:
My character Naomi is one of the few who doesn't appear in the book, but when I read her description, I just knew that this was what I wanted to do. She worked at a time when women didn't have the same opportunities as men and weren't taken seriously in society.
The series premiered in March 2022 and was subsequently renewed for a second season. The cast received the Independent Spirit Award.

In the summer of 2022, Anna joined the cast of the TV series "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters," a spin-off of the 2014 film "Godzilla." The actress was cast in the lead role of teacher Cate Randa, who survived a monster attack and set out to uncover the truth about her family and a secret organization. The premiere of the multi-part film took place in November 2023.

Anna Savai's Personal Life

The actress is extremely delicate when it comes to her personal life and does not publicize her relationships with men. In interviews, Anna has emphasized that she is focused on her career.

Nevertheless, she has often been rumored to have romances with her co-stars – for example, with Jin Ha, who also starred in the drama "One Thousand Miles."

Anna Sawai Now

In the fall of 2021, it was announced that Sawai had joined the cast of the miniseries "Shogun." The project premiered in February 2024. The actress played a Japanese woman named Mariko. This controversial character was not as simple as she seemed at first glance.

She was assigned as an interpreter to John Blackthorne, played by Cosmo Jarvis. She speaks Japanese and Portuguese fluently, which helps the navigator communicate with Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada). Over time, feelings develop between Jarvis' and Sawai's characters.
Shogun Stars Anna Sawai & Cosmo Jarvis Talk On-Screen Relationship
Critics were thrilled with Anna's performance, considering "Shogun" a career highlight for her. The actress admitted that playing Mariko was challenging, but after such an experience, she longed for similar roles.
I want to play only such characters because they are so important to me and make me think as an individual. I believe she helped me grow as a person.
According to Anna, she wasn't immediately confirmed for the role. Her first audition was unsuccessful. However, the showrunners couldn't find an actress for Mariko and turned to Sawai again. "I think the first time I came off as too aggressive and modern. They wanted to see more 'quiet strength' in Mariko. I think they liked my new version," the actress explained.

In April 2024, it was announced that the series "Monarch: Legacy of the Monsters" would be renewed for a second season. Anna was also expected to reprise her role in the project.

Interesting Facts

  • In 2017, the actress lent her voice to Angelique Noir in the video game "Style Savvy: Styling Star". She also recorded a soundtrack for the game "Girls Be Ambitious".

  • The story of Mariko's character in "Shogun", played by Sawai, is based on the life of a real woman named Hosokawa Gracia. She was an aristocratic family member known in history as a female samurai and Christian martyr.