One of Resa Mishina’s best memories from the seven years she spent living in Singapore, is her family hanging out at the circus training center, particularly on the flying trapeze. In fact, she enjoyed it so much that her parents signed her up for a gymnastics club so she could improve her technique and better enjoy the family favorite pastime. Resa fell instantly in love with the athletic art form, and when her family returned to their hometown of Yokohama Japan she was recognized as a promising gymnast and invited to join a competitive team. She started spending more and more time practicing, sometimes up to twenty six hours a week, got to compete in events like the All-Japan Championship, and even got to speak in front of the International Olympic Committee as a future Olympian gymnast, representing the city of Tokyo at the Olympic Bid.
Though she was experiencing continuous growth and success at the gymnasium, Resa had an even bigger dream of becoming an actor, and so as she started her senior year in high-school, she downsized on the gymnastics and focused on graduating and applying for colleges. With only a handful of theater programs to choose from in Japan, Resa decided to aim for programs across the U.S., but didn’t get accepted to any of the ones that she wanted. Nevertheless, a failed first attempt is the bread and butter of an elite gymnast, and so she took a gap year to prepare new monologues and songs with the help of an audition coach, and made her professional theater debut while she was at it. At the end of that year she was accepted to multiple programs out of which she chose Rider University, which offered her a generous scholarship and had an adjacent international airport. Moving countries and starting over yet again was not easy, but she felt right at home with her newly found theater community, which she describes as the most welcoming people she’d ever met.
These feelings were reaffirmed when the Coronavirus pandemic broke out, and Resa was four shows into a production of “A Chorus Line” at the Wick Theater in Boca Raton. In the midst of all the panic and confusion of the first few weeks, the people at the Wick Theater invited the cast members to continue using their accommodations until they could figure out their plans. She accepted their generous invitation and spent a few more weeks by the theater, and as she was trying to figure out what to do next, her college roommate of four years invited her to stay with her in Orlando for as long as she needed. Even before the heartwarming Floridian hospitality, this production of “A Chorus Line” was already a milestone for Resa, who got to work with director Mitzi Hamilton who inspired the role of Val and originated it in the West End premiere of the show, and Jessica Lee Goldyn who played Val in the 2008 Broadway revival; two Broadway legends who were now her colleagues.
Community and success have previously been a joint experience for Resa. In 2019 she landed her first leading role in a straight play and found herself surrounded by an empowering group of artists. The play “White Pearl” by Anchuli Felicia King, had its American premiere directed by Desdemona Chianga at “Studio Theater” in D.C., where Resa found her fellow cast mates and team of creators to be a tightly knit group of empowering women which she describes as the sisterhood she didn’t know she needed. The play’s run received an ample amount of press attention, including the Washington-Post which found its biting satire “ferocious”. This comedy of errors discusses the confluence of racism and beauty ideals, and Resa remembers it making some audiences members uneasy. “I think it’s a conversation we were almost ready to have in America” she says, and believes that now might actually be the perfect time for this play to reopen.
While the reopening of theaters is still not in the foreseeable future, this has definitely been a time for Resa to reflect on her own journey. When I ask her what the hardest part of her career has been so far, she mentions the hundreds of auditions she’s attended, and if you’re a fellow New-York based performer you know all about the overpacked holding rooms and entire days spent waiting only to get typed or sent home without being seen. Resa knows that once productions resume nationwide she will have to get back to the audition cycle that is part of every performing artist’s career. However, I have a feeling that her knockout combination of actor-singer-dancer-gymnast will make her standout in any audition room.