Defining Courage

A Stroum Arts & Diplomacy Series Event

CPD hosted a performance of Defining Courage at USC’s Bing Theater to celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Defining Courage is a live docu-theatre experience that explores the legacy of the Nisei soldiers -- Americans of Japanese ancestry who served in segregated units during World War II. The Nisei were the most decorated soldiers of the war, and yet their accomplishments are unknown to most. Revisit World War II battlefields in Italy, France, Germany and Japan and discover the heroics of the Nisei soldiers in this innovative and unforgettable performance. 

Narrated and co-created by ABC-7 News Anchor David Ono, Defining Courage tells the story of the Nisei through scenic cinematography, historical footage, eyewitness interviews, and live music. The show has played to packed houses in Honolulu, San Francisco, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. “The goal was to create an unforgettable show that combines live music and narration with multimedia storytelling,” said David Ono. “It is the perfect way to keep this important story alive in the most memorable way.”

Defining Courage at USC -- the first-ever private performance at any university -- is sponsored by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s Stroum Arts and Diplomacy Series in partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the School of Dramatic Arts, with the support of the Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association, Asian Pacific Alumni Association, and the Provost’s Office.

Defining Courage was presented by Story Boldly, Japanese American National Museum, and Outside in Theatre.

The Stroum Arts & Diplomacy Series is supported by a gift from Annenberg alumna, award-winning theater producer and former U.S. Ambassador, Cynthia Stroum. The event series focuses on the intersection of public diplomacy and the arts, featuring thoughtful discussions on urgent global social issues. Arts and culture are powerful tools for building connections and broadening horizons. Just as the practice of public diplomacy seeks to foster mutual trust and understanding between nations, arts and culture bring people together and create civic discourse for global awareness and action.

About David Ono

David Ono is the co-anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Since joining ABC7 in 1996, David has witnessed history worldwide, covering Hurricane Katrina, Haiti’s earthquake and Japan’s tsunami. He traveled across Europe and Asia chronicling brave acts of the Nisei soldier from World War II. He has won 10 Edward R. Murrow awards and 26 Emmy Awards.

About Cynthia Stroum

A native of Seattle, Cynthia Stroum earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations and Journalism from the University of Southern California.   After several years working in public relations and in the television industry Cynthia began building a personal investment portfolio as an angel investor in over twenty successful technology, biotechnology and retail start-up companies, Starbucks Coffee Company being one of them.  Cynthia made her producing debut with the highly acclaimed 2004 Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun (starring Sean Combs). Additional nominated productions have included Come From Away, Network (starring Bryan Cranston), Burn This (starring Adam Driver), Fat Ham and most recently winning a Tony Award for the 2023 Broadway revival of Parade (starring Ben Platt). Cynthia has also served on local and national boards over the last 40 years with a focus on politics, the arts and philanthropy. Her greatest honor, however, was serving as the 20th Ambassador of the United States of America to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg 2009-2011 under President Barack Obama.


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