Celebrity Travel: Go away with Keiko Elizabeth
“City on a Hill” actress Keiko Elizabeth said that when she was cast as Karen Shimizu — a U.S. attorney who had grown up in an internment camp during World War II — she had the unique knowledge of talking to someone who had experienced that firsthand: her father. “My dad is simultaneously very idealistic and very cynical about the American justice system and I really wanted to illuminate that paradox,” said Elizabeth, who resides in California. “Karen is a woman who, in spite of having experienced the worst of the American justice system, is committed to improving it from the inside. And that commitment is the source of (her) power and the root of (her) conflict with Jackie Rohr (played by Kevin Bacon).”
Q: What has your father shared with you about his time growing up in an internment camp?
A: My father was born in a camp called Tule Lake, which was the most brutal and heavily guarded of all the camps in the war. It’s something that impacted the course of his entire life. His family chose to repatriate to Japan after the war, as a result of the incarceration experience, so he grew up in post-war Japan as an American citizen of Japanese descent. He returned to the U.S. at 16 and has remained here since. But I think he retained this inner experience of never feeling like he belonged no matter where he was.
Q: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, how has the surge in anti-Asian hate affected you?
A: I haven’t been the victim of any violence in the last year directly. But the fear of being targeted or of my family being targeted is very real and visceral. It all kind of came to a head with the shooting in Atlanta (in March 2021, which included six Asian American victims), which triggered memories of being excluded, bullied and fetishized with a vividness that surprised me. I’m a very optimistic person, maybe even naively so. But, ultimately, I’m convinced that the more we expose the structures of white supremacy, the more we can shift that hierarchy for the better. So, in spite of everything, I’m very hopeful.
Q: How have you handled being somewhat isolated and not being able to hop on a plane to go away on a vacation?
A: I’ve been exploring our local hiking trails, supporting local businesses and visiting new beaches. Early on in the pandemic when we were very locked down, we planned what we called a fakecation. My kids chose France, so we watched YouTube videos of Paris, ate croissants, made eclairs, learned some French words and watched movies about French history. But once the pandemic wore on and we realized we really didn’t know when we’d be able to travel again, the idea of a fakecation got a little depressing.
Q: How have your travels for work changed since the pandemic?
A: “City on a Hill” is shot in New York. Before the pandemic, I was flying back and forth every week. After we returned to shooting post-Covid, they kept me in New York for longer stretches, which I actually really enjoyed. I value being able to travel for work much more than I did before.
Q: If you had travel plans for 2020 and had to cancel, where were they to?