It was the second day of filming for a Japanese television show called “Massan,” and between takes Charlotte Kate Fox was quietly crying in the stairwell. She was exhausted and intimidated. She’d gone from working sporadically in small films and theater in the U.S. to being cast as the female lead in an asadora, an exceptionally popular type of drama series. Asadoras have been on the air in Japan since 1961, but “Massan” was different—it would be the first to star a foreign woman. The 15-minute episodes of “Massan” aired daily from September of last year through March to wide acclaim.
Fox’s role as Ellie, modeled after Rita Cowan, tells the story of the real-life Scottish wife of the founder of Japan’s whiskey industry who moved to Japan with the love of her life and faced hardships as she attempted to understand the culture and the language.
“I was so overwhelmed by all of the Japanese lines and not understanding anything anyone said to me,” she says. “But I was comforted by knowing that Rita felt similarly. We both struggled to fit in and adapt to the culture.”
Fox grew up in Santa Fe, where as a child she studied ballet and acted in local theater productions. She attended the College of Santa Fe (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design) to pursue acting. It gave me the foundation I needed to continue my training as an artist,” the 2008 graduate says.
“I never thought in a million years that I would be working in Japan,” Fox continues. “It’s been a difficult, wonderful journey, and I’m excited to see where my life leads me to next.”
Her work on the show caught the attention of a New York theater producer, who cast her in the musical “Chicago.” She’s now also working on a music album and writing a script for a project she’d like to film in New Mexico and Japan.
“My life is completely changed now. I have more opportunities now than ever,” she says. “Don’t get attached to the idea of who you think you are. Life is most fruitful, surprising, and rewarding when you open yourself to other ideas of what life can be, of what you can be, of what you can change into. Be brave and take chances.”