Shine On

Shine On

Whether interviewing major celebrities or covering F-1 races, Ako Koizumi adds sparkle to the day


Originally published on on January 2010

Photo by Chris Betro

Photo courtesy Fox Television

When foreign movie stars walk the red carpet in Tokyo, they invariably stop for a few minutes to chat with Ako Koizumi. After all, who can resist? The stylish 27-year-old entertainment reporter for Fox Television’s Backstage Pass bubbles with enthusiasm and confidence, and is equally at home on TV and radio. “Life is a gift and I want to make every day count,” she says in fluent English.

Born and raised in Yokohama, Koizumi describes herself as just a typical Japanese girl who didn’t know anything about other cultures. ”When I was a child, I used to watch TV shows like Beverly Hills, 90210 and dream of going to California… and I did,” she says in an interview at Tokyo Midtown. “I spent almost five years in LA and graduated from Santa Monica College. I studied communications and took acting lessons as well. My goal was to work in showbiz, or be a TV reporter in both the US and Japan, sort of a bridge between two cultures.”

While she was in LA, Koizumi saw Kurara Chibana representing Japan at the Miss Universe pageant in Hollywood. Inspired, she won a spot in the Miss Universe Japan contest and returned home in 2007, eventually becoming a finalist. “But what really changed my life was shaking hands with Michael Jackson at Narita Airport in 2008,” she recalls. “I had gone to the airport as part of a welcoming group with Kurara, and as I greeted him, it was filmed by Dan Smith, a TV producer for Access Television. He hired me as an entertainment reporter, and my career started to take shape.”

Since late 2008, Koizumi has been a host on Backstage Pass, which airs weekly on Fox Japan. She and her fellow reporters are affectionately called “samurai divas.”

“Personally, I see myself as more of a ninja,” she quips. “It’s a lot of fun interviewing movie stars, directors and musicians on the red carpet, and even more so when we do one-on-one interviews, because then I can really get to know them and hear interesting stories.”

Who are some of her favorite celebrities? “Tom Cruise is always great because he makes time for his fans. He looks into your eyes and shows respect. Angelina Jolie is another celebrity I admire for her charity and philosophy on life. Meeting people like her made me realize how being a star can empower you to help people and do something positive for society. That’s something that I want to be able to do.”

Besides her work at Fox, Koizumi appears occasionally on NHK World’s Tokyo Eye with Chris Peppler and reports for Pit FM radio, covering F1 races, interpreting and doing interviews at Tokyo’s F1 Pit Stop Café. Starting in May, she’ll appear on Fox with tarento Dave Spector to host a program called Go! California, which will air right before American Idol.

“The final of American Idol takes place in LA, so Go! California introduces all kinds of hot places in LA, as well as California in general. We’ll talk about American Idol, too,” she explains.

The intensive acting courses Koizumi took in LA and in Japan last summer have also paid off—she’ll make her big-screen debut in an independent short film called It’s All Good, by Japan-based director Norman England. Starring actor-model Shogen (Bloody Snake Under the Sun) and singer Stephanie, the movie focuses on a couple who find themselves drifting apart—and the alien parasite that brings them back together. “I play a CNN-type newscaster, reading the news in the background,” Koizumi says. The movie will be shown at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in Sapporo in February.

As a TV host, Koizumi is naturally mindful of what she wears. “I like to be sexy and fashionable, but not trashy,” she says. “You’ll find me at H&M and Zara just like any other girls around my age. But I also enjoy the dresses we get to wear from designer Tadashi Shoji for red-carpet events. I especially get inspired by fashion whenever I go to New York or LA.”

When she’s not working, Koizumi likes to watch romantic movies on DVD and practice yoga. In the future, she says she’d love to do a TV series or a film in the States and get more involved in charity projects. But for the time being, her plate is full—she jokes that some days she wishes she could be cloned.

“I’m really enjoying what I am doing now and just have to be patient and see what happens next,” she says. “Things happen for a reason, but unfortunately, they never happen on your timetable.”

Backstage Pass airs on Fox Japan Saturdays at 1:30am. For more info on Koizumi, see

Chris Betros is the editor of Japan Today (