By Aiko Komai / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterWith her trademark short hair and intellectual air, Chiaki Horan has quickly become a familiar face on TV.
Now Horan is expanding her career in multiple roles as a TV personality, newscaster and actress, as well as co-presenting an English learning program on NHK.
She appears in every other episode of the Fuji TV network health program “Sono Genin, X ni ari!” (Investigation into the cause). The secret of rejuvenation was the theme of the March 17 episode, on which Horan tried a fitness regime that involved folding a newspaper with only her feet and toes.
“You’re still so young, so you don’t really have to worry about those kind of things, do you?” I asked her during a recent interview.
“No, I have to,” she answered, and without pause, launched into an explanation of the program’s appeal: “Even when we present topics that are mainly the concern of elderly people, young people should take note, too. I’m certain the program is useful and enjoyable for audiences of various age groups.”
Horan has made her already tight schedule even tighter as one of the new presenters on the daily news program “N-suta,” broadcast on weekdays at 3:50 p.m. on the TBS network. Horan tackles a broad range of topics alongside announcers Takahiro Inoue and Hasen Kuniyama.
Although she now enjoys huge popularity, Horan once received only a few jobs a year.
A Tokyo native born in 1988 to an Irish father and Japanese mother, Horan started modeling at the age of 5 or 6. After getting a role in an amateur musical when she was a sixth-grade elementary school student, she focused on becoming an actress. At 13, Horan joined the entertainment agency that she has remained with to this day.
If you are a fan of tokusatsu sci-fi superhero dramas, you may remember her role as one of two villainous beauties in “Maho Sentai Magiranger,” which aired from 2005 to 2006.
Horan was a high school student at the time: “I dreamed of becoming a superstar who was too busy to go to university,” she said.
However, things did not go as she hoped.
At high school and university, Horan studied hard and poured her energy into school activities. But while a student at Aoyama Gakuin University, she became more and more concerned that she had few chances to act. She headed for the United States to study acting for a year from 2009, hoping that would be a turning point in her life.
Horan often talked about her experiences and the people she met there to her family and friends, which helped her appreciate how enjoyable it is to convey information to others.
After returning to Japan, Horan decided to try and become a TV variety show personality. “At that time, I decided to broaden the range of my work,” she recalled. “I thought it would be nice to express myself in ways different from acting.” She started auditioning for such work and received a flurry of job offers.
Horan started wearing her trademark short hair when she appeared in a TV drama in 2011.
“I was playing a police academy student, so I was told to have my hair cut short. I didn’t hesitate at all,” she said. “I’m happy it’s become my regular style now.”
Horan’s earnest and carefree nature are part of her on-screen appeal.
Asked what she considers important to appropriately express herself on variety shows and other programs, Horan said she still finds it difficult to always respond properly.
“I tend to speak openly, which I’m only allowed to do because senior colleagues [appearing alongside me] respond kindly [to my remarks and comments],” she said. “I also try not to be intimidated, and make an effort to be aware of my role and express my opinions concisely.”
Though she described the process nonchalantly, performing in front of TV cameras is definitely not an easy task for most people.
When asked about her future goals, Horan’s expression became serious.
“Well, looking back on my past, I’ve never been the type of person who single-mindedly pursued a single goal,” she said. “I believe if I work earnestly in each job I get, it will lead somewhere in the future. All I can do is work hard on whatever is in front of me.”Speech