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It sounds like Anna Sawai’s parents might be hearing their names in a few acceptance speeches next award season!

Allow us to explain:

The highly anticipated FX limited series Shogun debuted to rave reviews on Tuesday, and Sawai’s performance was singled out by several prominent critics.

The New Zealand native plays Lady Mariko, and her nuanced portrayal of the skilled translator with divided loyalties has received widespread acclaim.

New Zealand actress Anna Sawai attends the red carpet event for FX's "Shogun" at the Academy Theater in Los Angeles, February 13, 2024.
New Zealand actress Anna Sawai attends the red carpet event for FX’s “Shogun” at the Academy Theater in Los Angeles, February 13, 2024. (Photo by MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Anna Sawai Says She’s ‘So Different’ From Mariko

In a recent interview with UPI, Sawai revealed that she has very little in common with the reticent Mariko.

“She’s so different from myself. I had to learn everything,” the actress told the outlet.

“I kind of went in with the physical aspects first — learning to move and speak like her and, mentally, it might just be a Japanese thing, but I could easily see where we came from as women in Japan,” she added.

Anna Sawai attends Apple TV+ New Series "Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters" Photo Call at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on December 08, 2023 in West Hollywood, California.
Anna Sawai attends Apple TV+ New Series “Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters” Photo Call at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on December 08, 2023 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

“I see certain elements in my mom and my grandmom that remind me of the place that Mariko was in,” Sawai continued.

“Just learning about the history really helped and having multiple conversations with Rachel, who lived with the character for so much longer, about what she meant to her, and receiving that [helped, too].”

The Rachel that Anna is referring to there is Rachel Kondo, who co-created the series with her husband, Justin Marks.

That partnership is just one of many ways in which Shogun is a family affair.

Anna Sawai attends the Los Angeles premiere of FX's "SHOGUN" at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on February 13, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Anna Sawai attends the Los Angeles premiere of FX’s “SHOGUN” at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on February 13, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Anna Sawai’s Parents: Who Are They? Where Was She Raised?

Sawai has spoken on several occasions about the ways in which her parents and her unique upbringing influenced her worldview.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Sawai and her family moved frequently throughout her childhood due to her father’s job at a large, international electronics company.

They settled in Yokohama, Japan when Anna was 10 years old.

Anna Sawai attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Anna Sawai attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

When Anna was three, her mother, who had trained as an opera singer, began teaching her to play the piano, inspiring a lifelong passion for the arts.

The actress says her international upbringing has had a profound influence on her career and the types of roles she chooses.

“I think it’s really important that I choose the roles that don’t fit into the stereotypical Asian roles that have been around for a long time,” Sawai said in a recent interview with Who What Wear (via SportsKeeda).

In this handout image provided by Apple TV+, Anna Sawai attends the Apple TV+ “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” Q+A Panel on the Thunder Stage at CCXP23 on December 03, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In this handout image provided by Apple TV+, Anna Sawai attends the Apple TV+ “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” Q+A Panel on the Thunder Stage at CCXP23 on December 03, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Apple TV+ via Getty Images)

Prior to her work on Shogun, Sawai received positive reviews for her roles on the series Pachinko and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.

Along with Hiroyuki Sanada and Cosmo Jarvis, Sawai makes up a cast of stars who are mostly unknown to American audiences, but who are rapidly amassing fan bases in the US.

Shogun is currently airing on FX, and the series’ first two episodes are now available on Hulu.