TrendLuxury: Tell us something about the new film you’re starring in?
Mari Koda: STEP UP: ALL IN is a story about dance, life and chasing a dream. In the film I play “Jenny Kido” who believes that she is always right about everything, it was a lot of fun.
TrendLuxury: Name one actor/actress you would love to get to work with?
Mari Koda: Matt Damon!
TrendLuxury: Why do you think the STEP UP film franchise is so successful and why?
Mari Koda: I think the STEP UP franchise is so successful because DANCE is universal language. It’s really fun and positive to watch, too, there are no guns, violence, or drugs.
TrendLuxury: How would you advise any new dancer or actress trying to get their foot in the door?
Mari Koda: Always have smile on your face, always have a fun, enjoy every moment you have and of course be nice to everyone.
TrendLuxury: If you could share a secret about yourself, what would it be?
Mari Koda: I’m always laughing at myself!
TrendLuxury: Who were the people that influenced you and why?
Mari Koda: Jamie Foxx, because when I worked with him for his show, I saw real professionalism.
TrendLuxury: What would you do if you weren’t dancing or in the film industry?
Mari Koda: I would own a bar/restaurant in NYC (because I love cooking).
TrendLuxury: So what did your mother and father think about you moving to New York with only $400?
Mari Koda: Actually, I had $30,000 when I moved to NYC. My mom passed away when I was 11, and my dad didn’t have a time to tell me much of anything because I told him about moving to NYC only few days before. It was very short notice LOL.
TrendLuxury: How did it feel winning first place on BET’s 106 & Park Freestyle Dance Competition?
Mari Koda: Nobody told me that it was a competition when I got on stage, I was just thinking that they were just wanted to see me dance freestyle. When they told me I had won I was really surprised!
TrendLuxury: I see that you were the first person from Japan to be granted a performing arts green card for Hip Hop dancing. What does that mean to you and why?
Mari Koda: There weren’t any Asian woman dancing Hip Hop mainstream around that time, I was super happy and proud.
TrendLuxury: What other projects are you working on now?
Mari Koda: I am working on writing a book.
TrendLuxury: What was it like working with 50 Cent, Skrillex and Missy Elliot?
Mari Koda: They were all great! The energy on set was incredible. When you get hired for “freestyle” for a music video a lot of times you’re hearing the song for the first time on set and it was great to see their reactions. I’m thankful to have worked with them and Jamie Foxx and Patti Labelle had kind words to share too!
TrendLuxury: Can you tell our readers more about your childhood growing up in Japan?
Mari Koda: I had lots of friends from school, but I spent a lot of time at home by myself growing up. I lost my mom when I was 11 and my dad was a fireman full time, so I spent a lot of time watching TV and listening to MUSIC. That became my daily routine and one of the biggest reasons why I became a dancer/actress. I was ALWAYS Acting and Dancing to keep myself entertained.
Photo Credits: Hudson Taylor and James Dittiger