This week on our Meet the Cast Monday series, we are thrilled to have you meet Momo, the dance captain for Up with People!
What are some of your interests and passions?
“My passion is to dance, as well as education for kids. I believe everyone around the world should have equal access to a good education and have the freedom to dream.”
What were you doing before you came to Up with People?
“I was studying education and English in college for three years. I decided to take some time off because I thought I needed to take time to do something in my life that I enjoyed doing. I had always wanted to learn English at an early age of about 5 or 6. I wanted to be friends with more people than just people with a Japanese background. At that time, the only way I could think to be able to study somewhere else other than Japan was to go study and be a part of an exchange program.”
How did you become involved with dance?
“Once I came to travel in Up with People, we had something called modules. They put the participants in groups to see what talent there was throughout the cast. I had been put in one of the dance line workshops and really liked it. When I first joined, I couldn’t speak English. I found dance as another language that I could speak even with the language barrier. I eventually became dance captain at Camp Up with People. It was a little scary because I didn’t feel good enough at first. It was after my year of traveling in the program and I couldn’t believe they chose me as dance captain. I ended up being dance captain three years in a row at the camp and was able to train myself a bit more, especially with having such a great mentor. I tried coming in every year with the hopes of becoming a better version of myself and I worked really hard while I was in Japan to continue dancing whenever I had the chance. When I came back to Up with People, I felt like this was where I was supposed to be.”
What is an issue you’re really passionate about?
“Freedom for children. It’s really sad to me that I see young people in Japan commit suicide. I’ve seen 16 and 17-year-olds view suicide as an option in their short lives. I really care about how they think and how they can express themselves outside of the box. I want them to feel like they can always be themselves, which is something I’ll always be extremely passionate about.”
What is your favorite moment in the show?
“The first song, It Begins With Us. The moment the whole cast comes on stage and everyone is singing the line ‘When truth becomes our common ground, we won’t give up, we’ll never back down.’ I feel the power within the cast because that is the moment that we live in. We are the future of this generation and every time I sing that song, I think about my brothers and sisters. I think about the people in the cast who are going to go do great things after Up with People. I just believe that is truly such a powerful moment.”
What is the next thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?
“I want to live happily. I always need to be honest. Even though I may not have all the things I need to do the things I’d like to accomplish, I always want to make sure I’m honest and kind to others. That’s something I feel like that could bring some good fortune to me. The first thing I’m going to do once I’m out of Up with People is see my family and tell them how much I love them.”
Who is an idol or someone you look up to?
“One person I look up to I’d say is my mother. She’s so strong, wise and independent. She always loves first and allows us to be who we want to be. She’s not scared to let her kids explore the world and that’s something I can’t appreciate enough. I have so many role models, but another person who has inspired me is my friend Miguel. He traveled in Up with People and he was someone who taught me and brought out more passion in me. He guided me so much through showing me how capable I am. He taught me how I can always do more even when it was hard to imagine the power I had in me.”
“I’ll talk to people I’ve never known before
We’ll travel countryside on distant shore
Plantin’ a spirit that you can’t ignore
I’ll give all I have and more”
Journey On © Up with People