The Japanese comedian, social-media star, and fashion designer turned a Beyoncé impression into an empire. Can her success translate?
The first time Naomi Watanabe saw herself on TV was also the first time she realized she might be fat. It was 2008, and the comedian was making her debut on a Japanese variety show as Beyoncé lipsyncing and dancing to a rendition of “Dreamgirls.” In Japan, the art of campy celebrity impression is known as monomane. But no one who looked like Watanabe had attempted Beyoncé before.
“I saw it and thought, Oh, I might be curvy. Hahahahaha,” she tells me through a translator when we meet in New York, where she lives now (and is still working on her English). “It’s not that I love myself because I am fat. I just love who I am right now. Whatever body I have today, I like to embrace that. That’s my self-love: Love yourself at whatever size you have today.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Nothing Like the Real Thing
Since when does a comedy special also need to be a documentary?
God Help Her
A biopic that’s heavy on the eye shadow, light on coherence.
Kumail Nanjiani's Feelings
The actor always wanted his own superhero transformation. Now he’s buff, a Marvel star, and struggling with how much of his new body is his own.
How Miami Seduced Silicon Valley
Awash in coders, crypto, and capital, the city is loving— and beginning to shape—its newest industry.
Jonathan Franzen Thinks People Can Change
Even if his new book suggests it’s nearly impossible to make it stick.
860 minutes with…Stephanie Grisham
In Kansas with Donald Trump’s former press secretary, who does not believe she will be redeemed.
Bed in a Box
Just how much drama can you pack into a studio apartment?
COVID Diaries: Sarah Jones
The 700,000 Death Toll An atheist stumbles toward a way to grieve.
Performance Review: Ben Affleck Plays Himself
Becoming a tabloid star gave the actor his best role ever.
The Murders Down the Hall
393 POWELL STREET WAS A PEACEFUL HOME UNTIL RESIDENTS STARTED DYING IN BRUTAL, MYSTERIOUS WAYS.