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Naomi Watanabe

Updated: Mar 21


[Naomi Watanabe at the Ghostbusters: Afterlife New York Premiere]


Actress, comedian, model, and fashion designer are just some of the roles the next feature of Famous in Japan has on her résumé. Naomi Watanabe, born October 23rd, 1987 in Taiwan, grew up in Ibaraki, Japan and is now a social media sensation. With countless appearances in commercials and Japanese variety shows, in addition to 10 million followers on Instagram alone, Watanabe has become a social media sensation.


When she was young, her dream was to be a comedian, much to the dismay of her family. Her mother encouraged her to go to university and get married, but instead she pursued her dream. Watanabe got her big break when her impersonation of Beyoncé started getting media attention. In an interview with Flaunt she said, “Once I became focused on performing it more on TV, it blew up. And I was honestly taken by surprise when it got the level of media attention that it did. I started appearing on Waratte the first year of my public career, so it was a quick transformation from there. [Beyoncé] was the one who coined me the ‘Japanese Beyoncé.’”


She even had the opportunity to perform the impersonation in front of Beyoncé herself. In the same interview, after recounting how she also performed in front of Will Smith on Waratte when he returned to the show six months later, she said, “Beyoncé hasn’t returned to Japan since. I may have pissed her off after all [laughs].” This however was her big break into the spotlight and led to her to be the sensation she is today.


[Naomi Watanabe promotes her own fashion brand in Taipei]


Watanabe’s career in comedy has led to her opening her own clothing line. Named “Punyus,” it roughly translates to “chubby” or “pudgy” in Japanese. Launched in 2014, she “wanted to create something that doesn’t categorize plus-sized people into just one category or style" (Russell). It has even led to a collaboration with Disney. Later in her interview with Flaunt, she said it was “due to the high volume of teenagers customarily showing up in coordinated Punyus outfits. It was happening so so frequently that Disneyland reached out and proposed the collaboration.” With collaborations from such distinguished companies, it should come as no surprise that Punyus' flagship store is in the famous Shibuya 109 shopping mall.


Naomi Watanabe is currently active, regularly appearing on TV and film in addition to her social media presence and collaborations with major fashion brands. She lives in New York City.


Connect with Naomi


Selected Notable Acting Credits

Sailor Moon Eternal (2021)

The Promised Neverland (2020)

Kanna san! (2017)


Related Media

Naomi Takes America, a podcast by Naomi Watanabe

Lady Gaga “Rain On Me with Ariana Grande” Official Parody

A Look Into Naomi Watanabe's Super-sized Bag!, from the In The Bag series by VOGUE JAPAN on YouTube


 

Works Cited


“Naomi Watanabe | These New Worlds? They Demand a Rebirth!” FLAUNT, www.flaunt.com/blog/naomi-watanabe. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.


Russell, Erica. “Meet Naomi Watanabe, Japan’s Boundary-Breaking Funny Girl.” PAPER, 12 May 2020, www.papermag.com/naomi-watanabe-comedy-japan#rebelltitem1. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

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