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Keiko Is Hot in Cleveland

July 10, 2013

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Keiko Elizabeth

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When alumna Keiko Elizabeth ’11 (M.F.A. theatre arts) returns to her alma mater this fall to teach “Theatre 100,” she’ll have a brand new DVD to share with her students.

The actress is debuting tonight in her first situation comedy — TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland" airing at 10 p.m. on the cable network. A sneak peek is available online.

In “The Proposal,” she portrays a federal agent alongside the series stars: Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendy Mallick and Betty White — all situation comedy veterans.

The episode was filmed before a live studio audience on the CBS lot in Studio City in early February. Elizabeth characterizes the experience as “the best part of live theatre and the best part of working in front of a camera all wrapped up in one unique, exciting experience.

“I had such a great time working with this fantastic ensemble of industry legends. Betty White is an icon! Everyone was incredibly welcoming and professional; the work ethic and kindness evident on the set made for a delightful week.”

It’s one more entry for her bio, which includes the indie film “The Islander,” the short “ The Last Great Romantic Comedy ,” and her very first TV gig, a part last summer on the long-running soap “Days of Our Lives.”

Next month, she will be on stage in Hollywood at Theater of NOTE in the L.A. premiere of “Eat the Runt” from Aug. 10 to Sept. 9. The part she plays is up in the air.

“The audience casts the play at the top of the show,” she explained. “The actors have to learn all the roles and be prepared to play whatever they get cast in.” Every night.

As billed on the theatre company’s website: “ This truly blind casting gives a whole new meaning to ‘perception’ in this hilarious play about identity, status and fighting one’s way up the corporate ladder. … The actors forge their own uniquely and quirky interpretations in any one of the 40,320 possible casting combinations that could confront them.”

In her student days, Elizabeth performed in various campus productions, including “Equus,” "Tartuffe,” “Ivanoff” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

She has fond memories of her grad school years, when she attended as Keiko Suda and had the opportunity to teach as part of earning her M.F.A.

“It’s a wonderful department,” she says of Theater and Dance, where she embarked on her journey to become a professional actor — a detour from her original plan to pursue a career in medicine.

While studying pre-med at Sanford, she also began tutoring at-risk youth. By the time she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, her focus had changed from medicine to working with kids.

She next earned a bilingual teaching credential and began teaching middle school science at an arts-based school for kids transitioning out of juvenile hall. On a whim, she auditioned for a community production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Running around on stage in a green wig, dancing and singing, was the catalyst to discovering her true passion.

Soon after, she moved to Southern California and enrolled at Cal State Fullerton. Today, she continues to volunteer with young people, bringing the arts to critically ill children through the nonprofit organization Art of Elysium.

By: Paula Selleck, 657-278-4856

Tags:  Arts & CultureTitan Pride