Leslie Ishii

Leslie Ishii

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A Japanese American woman with an olive complexion and shoulder-length black hair smiles from behind her laptop computer. She is holding a red coffee cup in one hand, and a vase of lovely white roses rests on the table behind her.]

Portrait photo courtesy of the artist.

Theatre-Maker and Social Justice Activist
Juneau, AK
2023 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Rasmuson Foundation.

Leslie Ishii is the Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre, Yonsei, and fourth-generation Japanese American. Ishii debuted in Northwest Asian American Theater’s Breaking The Silence by Nikki Nojima Louis, which raised legal defense funds for US concentration camp resistor Gordon Hirabayashi and his Supreme Court case. Through this experience, she witnessed the start of her community’s healing from mass incarceration in WWII US concentration camps. Since then, she has felt called to advocate for historical truth, healing, and the storytelling of BIPOC artists and communities.

As theater-maker, voice practitioner, activist, and community builder, she is deeply grateful for ongoing relationships with BIPOC leaders, artists, and theaters. She works to build solidarity, to decolonize/re-indigenize, and to liberate spaces in service of justice on behalf of artists and their storytelling in every initiative and creative process with which she curates and engages. She is Board President of the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists, Board Member of the National New Play Network, artEquity National Faculty, Co-Chair of the Coalition Building Subcommittee of the Professional Nonprofit Theater Coalition, and Steering Committee Member of the Anchorage Arts Alliance. Through these positions, she works synergistically with Tsuru For Solidarity, a nonviolent, direct-action project of Japanese Americans to end inhumane immigration policies. Grateful for the wisdom of her Elders and Ancestors, Ishii lives on the cutting edge to courageously coconspire for the collective liberation of BIPOC artists.