Anna Sawai (‘Shogun’) talks Avex denying her a ‘Suicide Squad’ audition chance while she was in girl group FAKY

So it took me a while to get around to it, but Anna Sawai recently was a guest on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast, where she talked about basically her career path. Perhaps most on topic for this site, however, was when she delved into her time as a member of FAKY (yes, that’s her) and under Avex, who denied her the chance to audition for Suicide Squad.

The discussion about her time in J-pop goes back to 2006 when she passed an audition for the company, and she talked about the reality for singer hopefuls.

“After the training — multiple years of training — you are either lucky and join a group, or debut as a solo singer, or you’re gone,” she explained.

While still training for a pop career, she was allowed to act in Ninja Assassin in 2009, which is when she said she fell in love with acting. However, after passing an internal company audition for FAKY, which she describes as Avex seeking more international backgrounds and an image that could cater to more than just men, she had concerns that being in the group could prevent acting opportunities. However, Anna says that Avex assured her that they would allow her balance acting with the group commitments, and that being a part of a girl group would help her break into the acting side of things.

Unfortunately for her, she found out that companies could just say whatever bullshit you wanted to hear to get your signature on a contract, and when she got a chance at her big break to audition for Katana in Suicide Squad, she wasn’t allowed to do so.

When a “big audition” for an American movie [Suicide Squad] came up and the filmmakers “were looking for a Japanese girl,” Sawai recalls, “I was like, ‘This is my chance!’ And then I go to my manager and he’s like, ‘You can’t audition.’ They basically told me that if I’m gone for over a month, the girls [the other members of FAKY] are not going to have anything to do.” She protested that the group would be helped if she got the role, but the answer was final. “It felt like they were really tying me down,” she opined, “and because of my contract, I couldn’t leave until the time that I actually left [in 2018].”

The way she describes leaving the group and agency was more emphatic than it comes off in text, and it couldn’t be much clearer that she couldn’t wait to escape for the freedom to pursue opportunities she actually wanted. In particular, it was landing a role in Giri/Haji shortly after that seemed to be the catalyst towards the sharp upwards trajectory her acting career has now, so I suppose all’s well that ends well for Anna.

Obviously nothing too surprising about this info, as big entertainment agencies being overbearing, micromanaging overlords to the detriment of their talents is nothing new, but it’s always nice to hear specifics direct from the source. Also, it’s a decent reminder that a lot of idols only are in these groups with the hopes of furthering their interests outside of music.


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