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Meet Hannah Miyamoto

“Everything I do is to try to make society better, to create more understanding, to fight prejudice.”

Over the past six decades, filmmaker, playwright, and MiraCosta College student Hannah Miyamoto has done exactly that.

This spring, one of Hannah’s poems will be published in a new book by Poetry Underground Press in San Diego that focuses on past, present, and future. Among other works, the book will showcase Hannah’s Elizabethan-styled poem, "What Treasur'd Fruit Hangs Sweeter than True Love?", which is also the opening monologue of Twelve Nights with Viola & Olivia, her play that highlights queerness in one of Shakespeare's classics.

Yet despite her many accolades, many would be surprised to learn that Hannah didn’t originally devote her life to creative arts.

“I didn’t grow up as a big theater person,” shared Hannah.

Instead, three decades ago, Hannah became a lawyer in Minnesota, her original home state. However, as the years passed, Hannah could not advance in her career, despite having the credentials of her peers.

Explained Hannah, “I was confused. I had the ability but wasn’t getting the opportunities. Then one day a friend suggested that people were judging me based on my appearance, not my skills. Since I wasn’t very masculine, I didn’t fit the gender stereotypes in the legal field.”

That’s when Hannah received news that would shape the next chapter of her life. At the age of 33, Hannah was diagnosed as intersex - her body produces testosterone like normal males but doesn’t respond to it the same way.

Coincidentally, at around the same time in 1996, the Trevor Nunn-directed version of Twelfth Night was released.

“I was still navigating my own identity and I realized that my experience was a lot like Viola, a major character of Twelfth Night,” shared Hannah. “I was trying to be a man, but I didn’t have the body for it. Ultimately, I was tired of being threatened in men’s rooms and treated differently because of something out of my control.” In 1997, Hannah began living as a woman.

Through her experience living as both a man and a woman, Hannah began reading books about gender. In 2001, she began earning her first degree in gender studies.

Shared Hannah, “I was going to these incredible conferences about gender issues, but I thought who is going to learn about this stuff outside of these scholars? That’s when I realized I could share this knowledge more broadly through theater.”

Now working toward a master’s degree in women’s studies, Hannah spent countless hours poring through every copy of Shakespeare’s work.

“I felt that directors miss so much of Viola’s story in Shakespeare’s play,” said Hannah, “I decided to re-write the play from her perspective.”

Her research and analysis led to her 2005 play, written entirely in Shakespearean verse: Twelve Nights with Viola & Olivia.

Since then, the work has received widespread acclaim and Hannah is currently working on adaptations of the piece in film and television, as well as theater.

As a current Media Arts, Film, Theater, and Music Technology student at MiraCosta College, Hannah is constantly finding new ways to tackle societal challenges through the arts, while also opening doors for her peers young and old. Every year, Hannah is working on new projects that provide opportunities to help other MiraCosta College students and alumni grow their careers in the arts.

“I’m excited for what the future holds,” shared Hannah. “I’m twice the age of the average MiraCosta College student, but I’m always excited to wake up in the morning and continue on in my career as a filmmaker and playwright.”

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