The ninth annual Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest will celebrate the winners in three categories on Thursday, May 26, at 6 p.m. through the Zoom platform in a free program hosted by the Japanese American National Museum.

The contest is presented by the Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) in partnership with the museum’s Discover Nikkei project.

Actor and comedian Derek Mio will take the emcee reins in an exciting program featuring noted actors Keiko Agena, Helen Ota and Megumi Anjo providing dramatic readings of the winning stories in the categories of English language, Japanese language and youth (18 and younger).

Attendees need to pre-register by going to https://www.janm.org/events/2022-05-26/9th-annual-imagine-little-tokyo-short-story-contest-virtual-celebration; a Zoom link will then be emailed to them before the program.

Keiko Agena is best known for her series regular roles on the shows “Prodigal Son,” where she played Dr. Edrisa Tanaka, and “Gilmore Girls,” where she played Lane Kim for seven years and reprised the role in Netflix’s “Gilmore Girls: Seasons.” As an improviser she’s performed at UCB Sunset/NY and IO WEST and is a recent addition to the main company of Impro Theatre.

In between, Agena has been a series regular on Hulu’s “The First” and recurring on “Better Call Saul,” “Dirty John,” and “13 Reasons Why.” As a guest star she has appeared on such shows as “Shameless,” “Scandal,” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.” She recently published an artist workbook, “No Mistakes,” through Penguin Random House.

Helen H. Ota is an actor and singer with the Grateful Crane Ensemble and former artistic director and performing member of Cold Tofu, the nation’s premier Asian American comedy improv troupe. She is a co-founder of Yes, and… Productions, which produced “Songs for a New World.” Her film credits include “The Crumbles,” “Mamo’s Weeds” and “Buddha Heads.” She is also an active community member, serving on the boards of the Nisei Week Foundation, Veterans Memorial Court Alliance, and Zentoku Foundation, and the advisory council of Kizuna.

Megumi Anjo is a Japan-born actor, singer and accredited master of Japanese traditional dance. Moving to the U.S. in 2011, she performed in the musical production “The Pirates of Penzance” at West Valley Playhouse, and completed the Applied Music Program (vocals) at Los Angeles Valley College. She has played various roles in such productions as “Hymn to Otsuchi,” “VIP LA,” and the fourth season of NBC’s “Good Girls.” Her credits also include the short films “Lil Tokyo Reporter,” “Fukai Mori,” “The Catcher,” and “The Oak Tree and Onigiri.” Most recently, she made her major U.S. screen debut in “Licorice Pizza.”

Photo by Tommy Garcia

Derek Mio grew up in Huntington Beach and earned his B.A. from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Film Production. He has acted in several commercials, television shows and movies. He can be seen in the Netflix anthology series “Medal of Honor” and in the AMC series “The Terror: Infamy.” He has also performed stand-up comedy at The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory, The Hollywood Improv, The Ice House in Pasadena, and HaHa Comedy Club in North Hollywood.

The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness of Little Tokyo through a creative story that centers around or demonstrates knowledge of the neighborhood, and captures its spirit and cultural essence. Each category winner is awarded $500 cash and their short stories are published in The Rafu Shimpo and the websites of Discover Nikkei and Little Tokyo Historical Society. For more information, visit: https://www.littletokyohs.org/all-news/9th-annual-imagine-little-tokyo-short-story-contest

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