Jay Koiwai

Jay Koiwai

Of the more than 100 films, television shows and commercial productions that Jay Koiwai has worked on over the last 25 years, none has been as important to him personally as “ONLY THE BRAVE.”

Both his parents and grandparents were confined to the Minidoka, Idaho and Tule Lake, California, internment camps during World War II. The family had lost everything and after the war decided to move east.

Jay's father, Dr. Eichi K. Koiwai, is a Korean War Veteran and later learned two "uncles" (family friends) served in I Company, 442nd RCT, the first company to break through the lines and reach the Texas "Lost Battalion."

“I’m happy to have been able to share ‘Only The Brave’ with them and thank all veteran's I've met along this journey. I feel I have worked my whole life for this moment and proud to be a part of telling their story of sacrifice, bravery and endurance for generations to come, never to be forgotten,” he says.
A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area native, Koiwai traveled the entire Continental U.S., before settling in California and where he began his career in entertainment.

Inspired by "Farewell to Manzanar” – featuring a cast of Japanese-American actors (including Pat Morita) Jay decided to study acting, directing and producing. Koiwai took master classes with Jerzy Grotowski at the Acting Conservatory of the Arts, and spent a summer performing with the world-renown San Francisco Mime troupe.

He also transferred to California State University in Los Angeles, where he graduated with a B.A. in Theater Arts in 1979. He became a member of East West Players, and began acting professionally with a guest starring role in Lee Major’s TV series, “The Fall Guy,” then notable appearances in Francis Ford Coppola’s “One From the Heart,” and Sean Penn’s “The Crossing Guard.”

Jay produced over 40 theater productions before being lured away by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. NWP is responsible for many stellar careers such as director, Ron Howard, producer, Gale Anne Hurd and writer/director, James Cameron just to name a few. The film production experience Jay gained at New World groomed him for a long career behind the scenes as an active studio technician and independent producer. In 1983, he met Jackie Kong, then a 21-year-old Chinese American filmmaker making her directorial debut with “The Being, starring Martin Landau. It was the beginning of a long collaboration in which Koiwai would co-produce three more cult hits directed by Kong for New World and Vestron Pictures.

When he’s not working on film productions, Koiwai serves as the president of DVF, Inc., producing live multi-media special event programs for conventions, associations, corporate clients and non-profit community organizations in Southern California.

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