Private Eyes: Elaiza Ikeda Bares All of Her Growing Pains. In an interview with DEW, model and actress Elaiza Ikeda gets honest and vulnerable about her upbringing and her passions.
Philippine-born Japanese actress, Elaiza Ikeda, is a well-known sweetheart in the evergrowing film industry. In our interview with the starlet, she described herself as, “Inquisitive and hardworking,” and that, we can clearly see. The 26-year-old star might be young, but her repertoire far exceeds her age. She has starred in the horror blockbuster “Sadako,” the live-action adaptation of “Kakegurui” and the Netflix series “Followers.” Aside from her film credits, Ikeda has also done voice acting in Wes Anderson’s animated “Isle of Dogs,” and also dipped her feet into directing with “Town Without Sea.”
Before establishing her career in Japan, Ikeda was born in the Philippines. She shares that although she moved to Japan when she was only 2, her childhood consisted of flights back and forth between the two countries. During this time of growth, she recalls her grandparents being a big influence on shaping who she is today. Both her grandparents were celebrities at the time but despite both of them being well-off, Ikeda lived in a slum. This experience allowed her to understand the harsh reality of the class divide present in the world, as well as helped her recognize and appreciate the privilege she was born into.
“My grandfather is a guitarist and comedian, and he would appear in TV or show, I felt that his part as an entertainer is what influenced me the most. Despite being a TV star, to me, he is my usual, kind grandfather, who is also quiet. I don’t think he’s someone special just because he’s an entertainer. First of all, I think that a person is supposed to be a good human being, and that is called being sincere,” the actress elaborates, “For example, if people around countries lost their job because of a disaster, and at that moment the most important thing is communication between communities, would I stay remain the same kind of ‘me’ when I suddenly lost something from me? Thus I take that as a serious matter. That value (which influenced me) It’s amazing! That kindness (my grandfather’s.)”
Later, the star carried on to win the “Grand Priz Nicola Model Audition,” which she shared was something that was influenced by her fashionista mum. She tells us that her mum was previously a model, remembering how her mother was the one responsible for dressing and dolling her up to be a stylish child, “My mother was a model, so my photo was taken ever since I was born, auditions were also a recommendation, and to be honest I had never read magazines before. The same goes for fashion, it was my mother instead of my own, she made me wear a pink parka, pink sunglasses, flower patterned tights or such.” However, being eccentric-ly styled has gotten her into trouble at school, which led to her to start believing that experimenting with fashion was bad. Her uninterest in fashion turned around as she continuously receive love calls from the fashion industry, leading to her becoming the IT girl she currently is.
“Acting was something that I wasn’t good at first. I have been singing and writing since my childhood, and I know the basics and enjoy doing them, but acting is so much more than that, moreover, everyone has their own charm I never know why, but it was the first time I encountered something I wasn’t good at, and it was really fun.” – Elaiza Ikeda
But starting her career early also has its downsides, “The first 1.2 years of my career, I didn’t quite understand anything. It’s a pretty good start, and I would say it’s more like a momentum thing, with only an ‘I’ll-do-my-best’-like motivation. I was supported by people who saw me, I also experienced a lot of new things.” She recalls how she was able to be featured on the front cover of a publication pretty quickly, but seeing how hard-working her peers in the industry were at the time, she can’t help but feel a little faltered, “The girls of the same generation who entered with me also worked very hard, then I started to wonder what kind of charm that I have, which made me begin to feel less and less myself, I was really frustrated about what I was lacking. I did many consultations with people at the office though, but since I had no idea about the basic part, I didn’t understand the part about how you have to show your clothes properly first, as I thought it would be better if I enjoy it and shining, It was really tough to the point I was thinking why I appeared on Nicola’s magazine, and whether I was getting paid or not.”
With her confidence depleting, staff from her agency were the ones who helped her back on her feet. “[An] office staff suddenly told me, ‘Do you know why the clothes you’re wearing were made and sold by someone? Do you know how it came to line up in the store?’ I didn’t know why. I was like, ‘Yes, I had no idea!’ I seriously have no idea about these things at all. […] Since then, I had bought various books from Tsutaya, and sold magazines all around the world, at the moment I was told to learn [fashion] from them, I did it immediately, such as staying overnight for reading magazines from the bookstore, and it was fun.” As she starts to explore the world of fashion on a deeper level, the star starts to give social media a chance and embraced having fun with fashion and beauty. It was at this time period that Ikeda feels like the prejudices formed during her school experience were slowly being undone.
Although fashion was a passion that took time for Ikeda to discover, acting was a completely different story. “When I started acting for the first time, I was easily entranced on spot,” tells the actress, “Sound, lighting, and camera staffs were professionals who would not hesitate to hold their breath as they capture our play.” To her, being on set is always a fun experience having to remain professional and collected around a crew of staff she equally respects. The star is well-aware and well-appreciative of the efforts the crew puts in during production, which pushes her to do her best in order to not disappoint. This itself could be a challenge and pressure that puts someone over the edge and yet Ikeda finds a thrill, “Acting was something that I wasn’t good at. I have been singing and writing since my childhood, and I know the basics and enjoy doing them, but acting is so much more than that, moreover, everyone has their own charm I never know why, but it was the first time I met something I wasn’t good at, and it was really fun.”
“I think it depends on timing; sometimes I feel right with acting, sometimes I feel right with modelling, but sometimes I don’t feel right with modelling all of a sudden,” says the multi-hyphenate as we ask her how she feels about pursuing these two fields, “There are times when my personal side and my will have become stubborn, and sometimes I feel conflicted when the image of the clothes or the brand, in general, does not match with my “personal side only” of the model. But either way, I have to learn for the rest of my life, I think. I have a feeling they would never become perfect. It’s just absurd! Really.”
Other than acting and modelling, Ikeda also shares her experience as a director when she directed “Town Without Sea.” For someone who’s spent most of her life in front of a camera, this field would require her to work from behind the lens. Complete opposites, yet the actress still feels a sense of comfort, “I guess that was just part of my personality. I really enjoyed the work of creating the world one by one, and also the work of making each line of the film come to life and guiding the actors until they are fully into the dialogue, imagining the people who will be watching the film on the screen, and the work of filling the screen with love, which is a very precious task, so I really loved each and every part of it.” With her directing debut being a positive experience for her, the actress hopes to continue on this path in the future. Not just for her sake, but in hopes for the industry to be a less male-dominated one, “To increase the number of interesting female directors, I think that female directors should be treated as something natural first. ‘Just the usual Elaiza Ikeda directing!’ It would be nice if [the industry] becomes like that.”
Although Ikeda has an array of projects under her belt, her ambition is definitely not slowing down. In fact, she shares that last 2022 she spent three months filming a new drama series! But of course, to carry on in creative pursuit, one must still maintain balance, sharing that she hopes to break her arduous routine that’s been on a roll for the past two years, “Since 2021, the situation has been busy as always, but I worked really hard to the point where I barely took a break, so ‘I did so great!’ is something that describes all the experiences. I guess being reckless is something admirable.” (Text Vanya Harapan)
Cover story Elaiza Ikeda
Photography Keiichiro Nakajima
Hair Keiko Tada
Casting Director Shimana