After watching a performance of the musical Hair in high school, Kiyoko discovered theater was her passion; it was the perfect blend of music, dancing, and acting. Inspired, she decided she would teach theater when she grew up.
Born in Tokyo, Kiyoko’s mother and grandparents raised her after her parents divorced. Seeing that her mother’s opportunities were limited due to a lack of higher education, Kiyoko learned early on that a college education was a way to help ensure success and independence. After initially following an academic path her family laid out, Ms. Motoyama Sims chose to pursue post-graduate studies in the United States – the place she felt provided the best opportunities for theater education.
Upon arriving in the U.S., however, Kiyoko was dismayed at the racial prejudice she encountered from some of her professors and peers in her graduate program. She realized quickly that her accent and appearance were disadvantages within the acting community. Kiyoko earned her Master of Arts degree, but decided not to complete her PhD and transferred to a MFA program at another university, hoping to find a niche where her experiences would prove to be an asset.
While working with incarcerated women during her thesis project, Ms. Motoyama Sims found her voice through social justice theater. She currently spends her time with predominantly immigrant and minority children, helping them find their own voices through theater.