A.P.R.I.L – “JUST BE YOURSELF” SAYS POPRA NAKAYAMA
Popra Nakayama is representing women from all across Japan and worldwide with one message… You need to be yourself! “By being myself, I continue to pursue my passions unabated. — Keep doing what you like. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Her message is part of the growing movement A.P.R.I.L. — a movement to empower women around the world: women of any shape, size, age, ethnicity, religion, race, creed, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or social class, banding together against adversity. A.P.R.I.L — All Power Resides In Love is a powerful acronym that is spreading the positive message to women; “Our Power is Love.” By reaching out to woman all walks of life, the movement hopes to change and address issues of adversity.
Popra, who is originally from Tokyo, Japan, came to America to pursue her dreams as a dancer and actress in the “Big Apple.” Her balletic ability as a dancer has landed her performances in New York’s esteemed Carnegie Hall and The United Nations. A skilled fighter in Muay Thai and Samurai Swordsmanship, Popra also dances in Off Broadway shows and currently dances in ‘The Little Mermaid.’
“Japan has a different mindset for women than the USA. At 30 years old women should be modest and cute, be able to cook, clean room, and be married and have a child — After marriage they expect us to become a housewife. Because of these ways of thinking women tend to be obstructed from the workforce. It’s changing now — slowly.”
Popra was named by her father, Kazuya Nakayama, a famous Japanese actor known for his films, ‘Izo’ and ‘Agitator.’ He named her after the ‘Popular’ tree in Hokkaidou, located in the northern end of Japan, in hopes she would grow up gracefully and straight. Her mother, a former Japanese dancer, influenced Popra and supported her journey to America for her to perfect her love and craft of the Arts. Popra followed her vision; training at performing arts schools HB Studio, Ballet Academy East, and Gibney Dance in New York.
Popra is a naturally upbeat person with a positive temperament. “When I face struggles, I try to take them as a lesson to be learned and that positive attitude pushes me up to new and better heights. I let myself cry to release the negative energy –It is healthy.”
“I am thrilled, in this sense, and honored to be a part of the project. I want to influence other Japanese women like myself; “life is about finding what makes you happy. Embrace it.”
What are your thoughts on the movement? A.P.R.I.L – is a global movement to empower women around the world, to stand up against adversity, for All Power Resides In Love.
“I was in the women’s parade in New York City this year. The energy was intense and we were very passionate standing up for our rights. This project could affect the world if we reach the right influential voices.”
How do you define empowering women in a few words?
“Raising the bar for women to match the standards that men have traditionally enjoyed.”
What institutional and societal changes need to be made in women’s rights?
“When Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence spoke about receiving lesser pay than her male co-stars, that was a sign of deep concern. It should be equal.”
Do you believe you are a superhero?
“Superhero’s are the people you look up to and love. I am a superhero to my mom and my mom is my superhero.”
Were you ever bullied as a child or as an adult? How can we prevent this?
“No. I am so thankful for that! Our system needs to put forth specific measures that can curb bullying. There needs to be a class on conduct in school at a young age.”
If you could do one thing to change the world into a better place, what would it be?
“To plant the Poplar trees with people from different backgrounds.”
Do you believe women are sexualized in media?
“Yes, Because of the way the media creates the image of women for an audience (mainly men) whose expectations and fantasies grow in proportion to these creations. The media creates images of some to satisfy men who view women as objects of desire. This is how ad companies generate revenue.”
What are your plans for the future? Career goals?
“One of my goals is to work in the same project with my father. I also would like to teach dance and in the future I would like to have a dance fitness workshop in Japan to help make people healthy.”
What do you like to eat? Do you have any hobbies?
“When I’m home I always cook vegan meals with little sugar or sodium. Sometimes I indulge myself with Sushi, Tonkatsu and melting cheese, although I rarely eat animal products.”
“My hobbies are dance (Contemporary, theater/commercial Jazz and Ballet). I also enjoy Yoga/Pilates, Muay Thai, watching shows, exploring vintage/antique stores in Williamsburg and nature, travel, cooking and bicycling.”
How can Girls relate to you?
“They always give me a good reminder of beauty tips.”
Do you consider yourself a leader?
“I am comfortable being a leader in subjects that I have a knowledge of and that I am passionate about.”
Is there anything else we should know?
“I’m currently performing in the off-Broadway musical, ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Come swim in the ocean with us!” http://www.theplayerstheatre.com/home.html
To learn more about the movement visit https://www.facebook.com/MovementApril/