Check out our interview with talented “The Road Dance” actress Ali Fumiko Whitney.

The film had its world premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2021 and celebrated its US premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on March 3rd. The daughter of “Fun Home” Tony-Award-winning Producers, Ken and Liz Whitney, Ali is excited for audiences to see her skills as the supporting lead in a “The Road Dance” (she is the only American actor in the film)! The film was shot on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland and is based on a true story + adapted from the 2002 novel written by John MacKay. Her horror film, “Snow Valley” is also set to release in 2022.

Follow Ali @alifumikowhitney

Hi Ali, please tell us a little about you?

I was born in New York City and raised in Scarsdale, NY, the youngest of 3 girls with my amazing parents Liz and Ken. My mother is Japanese American, which is where my middle name Fumiko comes from. I am very proud of my Japanese heritage! While singing, dancing, and acting are my passions, I also love to cook and play sports J

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Joyous, enthusiastic, and driven.

How did you get started into acting?

My mom, Elizabeth Reiko Kubota (Whitney) was an actress and introduced me to the arts at a young age. She constantly filled our home with music. I saw my first Broadway show at four years old and instantly fell in love. I did not become involved in theater/acting until later, but I always knew it was what I wanted to pursue in life.

How has this changed your life?

I have met some of the most amazing people through the projects I have worked on. Each job holds a special place in my heart and has helped me to grow as a person and actor. I’m often pinching myself that I get to call this “work”.

What is the best and worst part of being an actress?

The best part for me is collaborating with other artists. I love spending time learning from everyone on set and forming friendships. The hardest part is the inconsistency and lack of control within the career. Finding ways to handle constant rejection is pivotal for my mental health.

How do you prepare for a role?

To start, I always read and annotate my script with notes. I always keep a journal full of research on the time period, setting, and character. It’s almost like having a diary where I keep photos, quotes, or anything that feels relevant to who I am portraying. Music is also key for me when I prep. Finding songs that put me in that character’s headspace.

Tell us about your work on “The Road Dance?”

I play the character of Annie Macleod, the younger of the two Macleod sisters. She is the glue that holds the family together throughout the film as my sister overcomes tragedy in her own life. Annie embodies quiet strength, a trait I find very powerful and important to see on a young female character.

And about the horror film “Snow Valley?”

My character, Kiko is a spunky, kooky, wild child. This thriller has a lot of comedy in it which was fun to be part of. I also got to act opposite of my real-life sister, Rachel Michiko Whitney!!

What other projects you have been part of?

Prior to the pandemic, most of my work has been in live theater. Some of my favorites have been opening a new musical at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas called Marilyn! The New Musical. As well as being part of one of my favorite shows, In the Heights.

What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?

My dream is to play a character who has the same ethnic background as me. My Grandparents, Florence and Tsugio Kubota, met in the internment camps during WWII. I would love to tell their story one day and bring more Japanese American stories to stages/screens.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

Experiencing it with my family and loved ones. My family and friends recently attended the US premiere of The Road Dance with me. It was a special experience getting to sit in a theater and share a project I am proud of.

What’s your advice for the newer actors?

Don’t compare yourself with anyone. Everyone will have a different path and there is room for all of us in this industry. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and find ways to keep a positive mindset. I really believe in the power of manifesting your own destiny.

What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?

Show up prepared. In my experience, there have been times where we only got one or two takes while shooting a scene due to time constraints. There are many moving parts that go into making a film and it can be overwhelming if you do not show up prepared and ready to work.

How would your best friend describe you?

I called my best friend Halley, who has known me since I was 6, and she said the following: Dedicated, loyal, caring, supportive. She’s my own built in hype woman, lucky me!!

If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?

Laughing It Off. While I like to consider myself a hard-working and passionate individual, I also value not taking myself too seriously. I think it’s important to have balance and remember that mistakes are what lead to growth. No one can be perfect. It’s healthy to fail at something and be able to laugh about it.

What advice would you give to your younger self and why?

Be yourself and don’t be afraid of being judged by others. People will love you for you!

What book should every entrepreneur read?

101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna West

What’s next for Ali Fumiko Whitney in 2022?

You can lookout for my latest feature I shot in Louisiana called CABIN GIRL! The cast and crew on this horror film are incredible and I am thrilled for audiences to see it. Next, I will be adventuring over to Cyprus to work on a Romantic Comedy feature. 2022 is an exciting year for me!

What is your favorite healthy food?

Fruit! Could literally eat it all day every day, can’t wait for Peaches to be back in season!

And your favorite cheat food?

A nice big bag of salt-and vinegar chips. Or if I am feeling fancy, a charcuterie board with lots of sharp cheddar and prosciutto is *chef’s kiss*

What is your own definition of happiness?

Happiness for me is time spent with my family. Nothing brings me greater joy than spending time my 3 nieces, Teagan, Kenley, and Locklyn.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet my Great Grandma Nasuko Shimazaki. She came over to America from Fukuoka, Japan and did not speak any English. My mom grew up speaking English, so she was unable to communicate with her. I’d want to talk with my Great Grandma about where we come from in Japan and better understand my Japanese heritage.

Best advice ever given?

Treat others how you would want to be treated. My mom instilled this in me since I was a child, and she has always treated those around her with so much grace and kindness.

Do you support any charity?

Harlem Village Academies is a charter school in NYC that I volunteer for with their literacy buddy program. I hope to become more involved in their music and performing arts programs.

Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?

I’d love to be doing a mix of Theater, Film, and TV 5 years from now. My dream has always been to be on Broadway, but I also would love to star in an action TV series or film. My goal is to also be finding projects and scripts I want to bring to life and learn how to produce them.

Favorite song? Why?

Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel is a song that always brings me solace. However, I really love disco music and probably play that genre along with 70s rock more than anything else. That music puts me in the best mood!

What do you think of social media?

Social Media is both a powerful tool and harmful weapon. I love being able to support and keep up with friends via social platforms. However, social media is also a façade and a highlight reel of our lives. It’s important to remember that while mindlessly scrolling through edited photos of people living their “best lives”.

Where can we follow you?

The best place to follow me is through my Instagram @alifumikowhitney


Book: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Quote: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”

Movie: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Tv Series: Currently binge-watching Yellowstone

Favorite Food: Sushi

Travel Destination: Japan and Greece are where I’d love to go next!

Sports Team: The New York Yankees baby!!



Photo Credit: Storm Santos