Drinking blood smoothies, giving death stares and using only a few choice of words to get her point across—these are a few of rising star Naomi J Ogawa’s favourite things about playing the vampire Yoko Tanaka in Netflix’s Wednesday, a new spin-off series from The Addams Family.
Directed by Tim Burton, and starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jenna Ortega—as well as Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday in the iconic 1991 film The Addams Family, in a new role—this horror comedy is dark and heartwarming in equal measure. And, of course, it is infused with The Nightmare Before Christmas director’s signature oddball gothic style.
Set in the fictional world of Nevermore Academy, a school for freaks, monsters and outcasts, the story follows Wednesday Addams and her friends, who include Ogawa’s character Yoko, as they master their extraordinary abilities and solve supernatural mysteries.
When Ogawa took on the role, she was immediately hooked by the differences between her character’s personality and her own. But the biracial actress of Japanese and Anglo-Portuguese descent also felt connected to Yoko through a shared sense of vulnerability, which in real life she experienced growing up as mixed race.
Ahead of the show’s release on November 23, which is appropriately a Wednesday, Ogawa spoke to Tatler about her career, how her passion for acting has helped her overcome her feelings of “not belonging” and her dreams of landing a role in action films.