Overture

Mary Graham's a stranger in a strange TV land

John Intini May 27 2002
Overture

Mary Graham's a stranger in a strange TV land

John Intini May 27 2002

Mary Graham's a stranger in a strange TV land

Overture

Fame was the last thing Mary Graham expected when she left her Toronto home in 1998 to teach English in Tokyo. But once overseas, she heard how easy it is for foreigners to find work in the entertainment industry. Graham thought acting might be a good way to supplement her teacher’s wage. “In my first two weeks in Tokyo I landed a small role on one of Japan’s most popular television programs," says the 29-year-old, referring to the Japanese variety show, Waratte litomo (Now We Laugh). “Millions of people watch it, and for six months I became sort of famous. People recognized me on the street.”

Things soon snowballed and Graham hired a modelling agent. She did some commercial work for Sony and Kentucky Fried Chicken; and starred in a music video produced by three of Japan’s biggest bands. “I walked through a rabbit cemetery and a rabbit zombie comes after me,” says Graham, who before moving to Tokyo was working as an information officer with CIBC. “In Japan, things on TV can never be scary. They always have to be cute.” At rock concerts, Graham was often invited backstage because she was the only foreigner in the audience. She also attended a gala dinner in honour of Jean Chrétien

when he was visiting Tokyo.

Last month, Graham returned to her family home in Niagara-on-theLake, Ont., to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday. What was supposed to be an eight-month stint had turned into a four-year adventure. She has yet to decide whether she’s going back to Tokyo, and laughs when asked if she’d try to launch a similar career in Canada. “In North America we’re bombarded with big breasts,” she says. “In Japan things are more wholesome. It’s easier to do well there with the girl-next-door look.” Or in her case, the foreign girl next door.

John Intini

Shanda Deziel

John Intini

Over and Under Achievers

Jean Chrétien: Suddenly, an ethics package is in the works. Too late to seem anything but defensive. But good policy can quiet foes. We’ll see.

^ David Anderson: Critics say his Kyoto options are a prelude to backing out of the accord. But a feud that was all hot air suddenly has cool reasoning.

^ Snowbirds: The aerial acrobatics kind. Grounded by post-Sept. 11 insurance hikes, the famed flying squad’s future is in doubt.

4*Snowbirds: The Rorida beach strolling sort. Their angry lobbying gets them exempted from a new U.S. 30-day limit on tourist stays.

Overbites

“My Lords, it is a privilege to be here. After the tortuous course that I pursued getting to your Lordships’ House I would be remiss if I did not thank the former leader of the opposition and the Prime Minister for their kind persistence on my behalf.

“Given the gravity of the provocation and the strength of the U.S., I cannot imagine any country behaving more judiciously, more moderately and yet more effectively than has the United States during the past eight months.” -Excerpts from the maiden speech of Lord Black of Crossharbour-otherwise known as Conrad Black-who is encouraging the U.K. to strengthen its alliance with the U.S.