Jeffrey Omura

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Jeffrey Omura
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Born (1985-04-23) April 23, 1985 (age 36)
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
CitizenshipUnited States of America
EducationBachelor of Arts
Alma materCarnegie Mellon University
Occupation
  • Actor
  • Activist
  • Labor leader
Years active2007–present
Political partyDemocratic Party (United States)

Jeffrey Omura (born April 23, 1985) is an American actor, activist, labor leader, and organizer. He is a core member of Fair Wage OnStage[1] and has served as an Eastern Principal Councilor on Actors' Equity Association's national council since 2017.[2] He is an organizer of the #BeAnArtsHero movement.[3]

Jeffrey is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. After making his New York stage debut in The Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park, he has continued to perform on stages across the city and country. He is a founding member of the theater collective “Exit, Pursued by a Bear”.

He has worked on the political campaigns of John Kerry, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Katie Hill, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden.[4]

In 2020, Omura announced his candidacy for New York City Council in District 6.[5] If elected, he will be the first openly gay person to represent District 6 and the first Japanese-American ever to win elected office in New York State.[6]

Early Life, Family, and Education

Jeffrey Omura was born at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan on April 23, 1985 and raised in the suburb of Okemos, Michigan. He is the third child of Linda Omura (nee Ratliff), founder and owner of Cherry Tree Catering; and Glenn Omura, a professor and Dean at Michigan State University. Glenn is of Japanese descent, born in Hawaii and raised in Los Angeles, California and Falls Church, Virginia. Though Linda was raised in Hazel Park, Michigan, her family has multi-generational roots in Appalachia. The couple met while attending Michigan State University, and were married in 1969 - only two years after interracial marriage was legalized in the United States in Loving v. Virginia.[7]

The family attended the non-denominational Okemos Community church, with a female pastor. It was through these services that Jeffrey learned the importance of giving back to the community and serving the poor. It was also where he fell in love with music. [8]

Through middle school and high school, Jeffrey appeared in various school theater productions. He eventually became President of the Drama Club, and the student liaison to the School Board.[9]

Jeffrey graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2007.[10]

Acting Career

In 2007, Jeffrey was cast in The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Michael Greif and starring Oscar Isaac, Lauren Ambrose, Camryn Manheim, and Brian Tyree Henry.[11]

In 2008 Jeffrey earned his Actors’ Equity Association union card performing in “The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks”[12] an early musical written by Tony Award nominee Joe Iconis. [13]

Jeffrey made his television debut on the CW’s Gossip Girl episode “Desperately Seeking Serena”, playing Todd Jansen, the ex-boyfriend of Nelly Yuki.[14]

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) featured Jeffrey in its 2009 Walt Disney Television Casting Project Showcase.[15]

He has workshopped new plays with theaters across the country, including Lincoln Center Directors' Lab, the Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Ars Nova, LAByrinth Theater Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Ma-Yi Theater Company, National Asian American Theater Company, The Orchard Project, and the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab.

His voiceover work can be heard in dozens of films and television shows including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.

Activism

Political Campaigning

Jeffrey was a volunteer for the John Kerry campaign, registering students in Okemos, Michigan to vote. In 2008, Jeffrey spent a month as a full-time field organizer for the Barack Obama campaign in Lansing, Michigan. In 2018, Jeffrey campaigned for congressional candidate Katie Hill in Santa Clarita, California. Jeffrey was active in two 2020 Democratic campaigns: first, Elizabeth Warren’s Democratic Primary campaign in New Hampshire; and then Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[16]

Actors’ Equity

In 2016, Actors' Equity Association was gearing up to renegotiate its agreement with the Off-Broadway League of Theaters. [17] Jeffrey helped create and lead the Fair Wage OnStage grassroots movement to demand higher wages.[18] With their help, Equity negotiated record breaking wage increases from 32% to 83%.[19]

In 2017, Jeffrey ran for a seat on Equity's National Council and won a three year term.[20] In 2018, he was elected the chair of the International Actors Committee, allowing him to advocate for immigrant artists.[21]

Jeffrey was re-elected to Equity’s Council in 2020, where he has helped support union members during an industry-wide shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[22] He was influential in resolving a public jurisdictional battle between SAG-AFTRA and Equity.[23]

He is one of the organizers behind the #BeAnArtsHero campaign, which organized the national arts sector to collectively lobby Congress for direct arts relief during the 2020 pandemic. The campaign was instrumental in securing $15 billion for the arts. [24][25]

Public Office

Jeffrey is currently running to represent New York City Council District 6. If elected, he will be the first openly gay person to represent District 6 and the first Japanese-American ever to win elected office in New York State.[26]

Jeffrey kicked off his campaign at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park on November 20th, 2020.[27] The event featured a performance by four-time Tony Award nominee Judy Kuhn. Actors Michael Urie and Ryan Spahn have publicly supported Jeffrey, hosting a virtual cocktail fundraiser for Jeffrey which included a screening of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.[28]

During his campaign, Jeffrey has suggested a tax on vacant luxury apartments. He has also publicly offered a number of solutions to the traffic congestion problem in New York City, including installing transit signal priority software at all intersections; creating a parking permit system prioritizing residents instead of commuters; expanding bike lanes; and re-designing streets so that pedestrian traffic is increased along commercial corridors. Jeffrey also supports the legalization and taxation of marijuana.[29]

Personal life

At the age of 14, with the encouragement of his theater director—the activist Todd Heywood—Jeffrey testified to the State Legislature in support of anti-bullying legislation.[30]

Television Credits

Year Title Role
2008 Gossip Girl Todd Jansen
2011 Damages Henry Thain
2011 White Collar Chad Stewart
2011 Georgetown (pilot) College Democrat
2013 The Michael J. Fox Show Ted
2014 Blue Bloods Patrick Dunleavy
2014 High Maintenance Brandon
2016 Limitless Danny
2016 The Blacklist Trey
2016 The Interestings Robert Takahashi
2017 Gone Kyle Parrish
2018 Elementary Sonny Kwan
2018 Succession Rob
2019 Hawaii Five-0 Palani Kuewa

Theater Credits

Off-Broadway

  • Romeo & Juliet (Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park (New York City)[31]
  • Joe Iconis' The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks (TheatreWorksUSA)[32]
  • Charles Francis Chan Jr's Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (National Asian American Theater Company)[33]
  • House Rules (Ma-Yi Theater Company)[34]
  • Hamlet (Public Theater Mobile Unit)[35]
  • Hello, from the Children of Planet Earth (The Playwrights' Realm)[36]
  • Fruiting Bodies (Ma-Yi Theater Company)[37]

Regional

  • Take Me Out (play) (barebones productions)[38]
  • Macbeth (Hartford Stage)[39]
  • La Dispute (Hartford Stage)[40]
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Repertory Theater of St. Louis)[41]
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Weston Playhouse)[42]

References

  1. "Fair Wage On Stage Website".
  2. McPhee, Ryan (June 2, 2017). "Kate Burton, Nikka Graff Lanzarone Among New Members of Actors' Equity National Council". playbill.com. Playbill.
  3. "#BeAnArtsHero Campaign Website".
  4. "Jeffrey Omura for City Council – About".
  5. "New York City's Campaign Season Includes Karaoke, Scarlett Johansson and a Kitten Cam".
  6. Smith, Allison (January 11, 2021). "Brewer Joins Candidate Forum as City Council District 6 Race Heats Up". gothamgazette.com. Gothan Gazette.
  7. "Jeffrey Omura for City Council – About".
  8. "Jeffrey Omura for City Council – About".
  9. "Jeffrey Omura for City Council - About".
  10. "Jeffrey Omura for City Council - About".
  11. Gans, Andrew (June 6, 2007). "The Michael Greif-directed Romeo and Juliet — the first summer 2007 production of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park — begins previews June 6". playbill.com. Playbill.
  12. "The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks".
  13. "Joe Iconis Official Website". mrjoeiconis.com.
  14. {{Cite news|url=https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1122271/%7Ctitle=Gossip Girl – “Desperately Seeking Serena”|website=imdb.com|publisher=IMDb
  15. "Disney/ABC Television Group Casting Project Presents 8th NY Actor's Showcase at the Acorn Theatre". BroadwayWorld.com. BroadwayWorld. August 27, 2009.
  16. "Jeffrey Omura for City Council – About".
  17. McHenry, Jackson (November 19, 2016). "Actors' Equity Negotiates Significant Wage Increases in New Contract With Off-Broadway Theaters". vulture.com. Vulture.
  18. "Fair Wage On Stage Website".
  19. Paulson, Michal; Schuessler, Jennifer (November 18, 2016). "Off-Broadway Equity Actors and Stage Manager Win Pay Increase". nytimes.com. The New York Times.
  20. McPhee, Ryan (June 2, 2017). "Kate Burton, Nikka Graff Lanzarone Among New Members of Actors' Equity National Council". playbill.com. Playbill.
  21. "Fair Wage Council Portfolio – Jeffrey Omura".
  22. "Actor's Equity 2020 Council Election Results". actorsequity.org. Actor’s Equity.
  23. Sakoui, Anousha (October 22, 2020). ""SAG-AFTRA and Actors' Equity Unions Fight Hollywood Pandemic". latimes.com. The Los Angeles Times.
  24. Vincentelli, Elisabeth (December 23, 2020). "STANDING UP FOR THEATER - Actors and Writers and Now, Congressional Lobbyists". nytimes.com. The New York Times.
  25. "#BeAnArtsHero – Our Team".
  26. Smith, Allison (January 11, 2021). "Brewer Joins Candidate Forum as City Council District 6 Race Heats Up". gothamgazette.com. Gotham Gazette.
  27. "Jeffrey Omura Presents Kick-Off Event Announcing Candidacy for City Council, Featuring Judy Kuhn". broadwayworld.com. BroadwayWorld. November 11, 2021.
  28. Honan, Katie (December 23, 2020). "Political Campaigns Get Creative" (PDF). Washington Square Journal.
  29. Smith, Allison (January 11, 2021). "Brewer Joins Candidate Forum as City Council District 6 Race Heats Up". gothamgazette.com. Gotham Gazette.
  30. "Jeffrey Omura for City Council – About".
  31. Gans, Andrew; Jones, Kenneth (June 6, 2007). "Public Theater's Starry Romeo and Juliet Begins Previews June 6 at the Delacorte". Playbill.com. Playbill. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  32. Hetrick, Adam (July 24, 2008). "The Joe Iconis musical The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks officially opens at Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre July 24". Playbill.com. Playbill. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  33. Soloski, Alexis (Nov 10, 2015). "Review: With 'Charles Francis Chan Jr.'s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery,' Lloyd Suh Takes on a Legacy". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  34. Soloski, Alexis (April 1, 2016). "Review: 'House Rules' and All Kinds of Games". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  35. Collin-Hughes, Laura (September 20, 2016). "Review: A 'Hamlet' That Wants to Get Closer". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  36. Soloski, Alexis (March 7, 2018). "Review: In Search of Intelligent Life and a Willing Sperm Donor". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  37. Claire, Jacqueline (April 30, 2019). "FRUITING BODIES At Theatre Row". Stagebiz.com. Stage Biz. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  38. Rawson, Christopher (June 13, 2008). "Stage review: 'Out' puts a funny spin on serious issues". Post-Gazette.com. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  39. Gold, Sylviane (Oct 11, 2013). "A Vigorous Macbeth, Swept Up in the Darkness". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  40. Gold, Sylviane (September 26, 2013). "Whose Cheatin' Heart Came First?". NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  41. Gay, Malcolm (Oct 22, 2014). "A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Rep Delivers a Visually Spectacular Show". RiverfrontTimes.com. The Riverfront Times. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.
  42. Lowe, Jim (Aug 18, 2019). "'Virginia Woolf' is funny, terrifying and touching". RutlandHerald.com. The Rutland Herald. Retrieved Aug 30, 2019.

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