Michelle K. Sugihara is the Executive Director of CAPE, the leading non-profit organization dedicated to improving Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) images and representation through media and entertainment. In partnership with industry sponsors including Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Company, HBO, Amazon Studios, Netflix, Oriental Dreamworks, CBS, Starz, The CW, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Final Draft, and The Black List, CAPE’s signature programs include the CAPE New Writers Fellowship, CAPE Leaders Fellowship, #IAM Campaign, educational panels, and networking mixers targeting emerging and established entertainment industry leaders and creative talent.
Sugihara, a fourth generation Japanese American, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated with honors from Claremont McKenna College with a dual major in Economics and Psychology and a minor in Asian American Studies, followed by a law degree from UCLA. Prior to joining CAPE, she was an entertainment attorney, film producer, and adjunct professor for the Claremont Colleges’ Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies.
Sugihara’s community involvement includes her roles as VP of Development and founding member of the Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theater, Director of Community Relations of the Japanese American National Museum’s New Leadership Advisory Council, Co-Chair of the Multicultural Bar Alliance of Southern California, member of PBS-SoCal Asian Pacific Islander Community Council, board member of OCA-Greater Los Angeles, past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County, past member of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles’s Executive Advisory Council, and past board member of the Japanese American Bar Association. She is also a member of Cold Tofu, the nation’s premiere Asian American comedy improv and sketch group. Sugihara is a 2010 recipient of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Best Lawyers Under 40 award and a 2011 recipient of Los Angeles County Bar Association, Real Property Section’s Outstanding Young Lawyer award. She was named a “Rising Star” in Los Angeles Magazine’s Super Lawyer Rising Star section from 2008 to 2014.