Aya Ueto (上戸彩, born September 14, 1985) is a Japanese actress and singer. Born in Nerima, Tokyo, Japan, Ueto was discovered when she participated in the 7th Japan Bishōjo Contest, where she won the special Jury Prize. She made her singing debut with the idol group Z-1 in 1999, at the age of thirteen. In 2002, after the group's disbandment, Ueto continued her music career as a solo artist, under the record label Pony Canyon, where she debuted with the song Pureness. To date, she has released sixteen singles and five studio albums, all of which have peaked in the top 20.
Ueto's breakthrough came when she was cast as a high school student suffering from gender identity disorder (GID), in the sixth season of the long-running TBS drama 3-nen B-gumi Kinpachi-sensei. Her critically acclaimed performance led to several leading roles and endorsements, eventually establishing her as one of Japan's most recognizable faces. As one of Japan's most ubiquitous celebrities, Ueto constantly appears on billboards, shop windows and train adverts, and has held the annual title of CM Queen five times since 2004.
She has also ventured onto the big screen, in the lead role in Ryuhei Kitamura's blockbuster Azumi (2003), which earned her a nomination for a Japan Academy Award for Best Actress, its sequel, Azumi 2: Death or Love (2005), and Thermae Romae (2012).
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