Una Aya Osato was born and raised in the East Village of New York City, where she currently works as a performer, writer, and educator who dynamically merges her art and politics. Una began her performance career at the age of seven, dancing with the world renowned José Limon Dance Company which toured in the U.S. and Europe, and worked on television shows such as Sesame Street, Ghost Writer, and Nickelodian PSA’s. She also appeared on network television as a repertory member of CityKids, before going on to graduate from LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, where she was awarded the level one prize in theater by the U.S. Arts Recognition Talent Search (now known as YoungArts), and named a finalist for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts award. She was invited to participate in the Sundance Theater Laboratory, where she performed in Julia Cho's 99 Histories, and has since gone on to collaborate with award-winning playwrights, performers, and companies such as Taylor Mac (2009, 2016, 2018) and the Mettawee River Theater Company (2013). Una and her sister MIchi Ilona Osato have a chapter in adrienne maree brown’s newest NY Times Best Selling book Pleasure Activism, their chapter is called “Burlesque and Liberation”. Una is also part of a collective that has work in the Brooklyn Museum’s current show “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: 50 Years After Stonewall”, their piece is called “The Lavender Hill Historical Society”.
Since graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in American Studies, Una has been writing, performing, and producing her award-winning original work, touring for over 15 years both nationally and internationally at theaters, festivals, schools, community organizations, and prisons.
Una's love for fully embodying her politics in her art has also led her to burlesque, where she goes by the names exHOTic other and Norms, and has performed in theaters and nightclubs from NYC’s iconic Slipper Room to the bright lights of Vegas for the Miss Exotic World/Burlesque Hall of Fame competition. She is also a co-founding member of the new burlesque super troupe, brASS: Brown RadicalAss Burlesque.
She facilitates workshops and trainings in correlation with the themes raised in her theater and burlesque shows, (such as “Full-bodied Storytelling: Loving Your Body & Finding Your Story”; “Political Performance: Sharing Stories That Matter to Us All”; and “A One Woman Show: The In’s & Out’s of Creating, Performing & Self-Producing Your Work”). She has taught for over 15 years at every level of educational institution throughout the U.S. and South Africa. In the U.S., these have included: Yale, Princeton, Wesleyan, Oberlin, Brown, Cornell, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Laney, Sarah Lawrence, Rutgers, Brandeis, NYU, Rutgers, the CUNY Grad Center, Queens College, Brooklyn College, California State: Monterey Bay, University of San Francisco, Laney College, Mount Holyoke, and Carlton College.
Una’s foundation in performance and popular education provides a framework that allows her to create uniquely engaging spaces for students to experience learning, where they often find new understanding of themselves and the world. Una's work as an educator is an extension of her artistic work, all of which explores and addresses social justice issues through embodying knowledge, performance and storytelling.