help rodney kageyama

I just read this urgent post by Chris Tashima over at the Cedar Grove OnStage blog, about renowned character and comedic actor Rodney Kageyama, who's fighting Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma:
Help Out Our Friend, Rodney Kageyama

Message from CGO co-Artistic Director, Chris Tashima

One of my first gigs, back in 1984, was a series of Coke commercials, for Japanese TV. They were shot at a 50s diner in Visalia, CA, and at Magic Mountain. I was an extra, which wasn't the highest profile, or most challenging work, but it was fun. I got to travel out of town, learn the Japanese lyrics to the "Coke is it!" song, learn choreography, play dress-up (50s), and dream of being broadcast over the airwaves in Japan – and becoming an international star. I never saw the completed spots, until recently: thanks to YouTube, I discovered these long-lost ads, and was finally able to see the fruits of my labor:


Long lost indeed – lost way, way in the background. I think I can spot myself in one shot, way in the blurry distance, for all of maybe 1.5 seconds.

The memories are still fond, though. One very clear memory is meeting renowned character and comedic actor, Rodney Kageyama (at 00:41 in the above video). Not only did this swell guy befriend me on this shoot, he later introduced me to many of the folks at East West Players in Los Angeles, and to many more in the larger Japanese American community in Southern California. He also supported all of my work, designing costumes for my first film project with Visual Communications, and volunteering on crew for both "Visas and Virtue" and "Day of Independence." In countless many other ways, he has help me continue with the work that I do, and aspire to do. As I think about all that he has done for me, sadly, I can't say I have done much in return. But, the warmth of his friendship hasn't ever made me feel like I needed to. Well, now's my chance to try to give back.

Rodney Kageyama needs our help.

Late last year, Rodney was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a group of cancers that affect the cells that play a role in the immune system. Since his diagnosis, he has been undergoing intense chemotherapy treatments. So far, the results have been hopeful, but his fight against this disease is far from over. This illness has knocked Rodney out of work, and he misses everyone because he hasn't been able to appear at any community functions or support our community organizations as he has for so many of us over the past 25 years. Rodney has spent a lifetime giving so many of us his time, giving us so much joy and laughter, and has helped us all in so many ways along the way. His greatest gift is his ability to laugh and to make us laugh, sometimes at him, sometimes at ourselves.

Now is the time for us to give something back. This is where everyone can help.

Our goal is to raise at least $25,000 so that Rodney can put all his energy into fighting this fight, and not have to worry about rent, food, utilities and hospital bills for the next year. One hundred percent of your contribution will go directly to Rodney, and his fight for his life. For all he's done for me, and so many others, I ask you to give a gift from your heart.

The $25k is an estimated minimum, to help Rodney for one year. I don't think it's much to ask, especially considering how far and wide-reaching his efforts for the community have been. If all who his gift of giving has touched, reached out to give something back, I think this figure would be blown out of the water, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

Very fitting, I'd say.

Thank you for your consideration.
And, thanks again, for reading


PS: Please make your check payable to FRIENDS OF RODNEY KAGEYAMA,
and mail to:

Rodney Kageyama
4891 Round Top Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90065

I've seen Rodney's work here and there over the years, mostly bit parts in cruddy TV shows. But this guy's an old timer, a class act whose been in the industry for a long time, and has done a great deal for the community. Please consider helping him out, if you are so able. Every little bit will count.

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