Velina Hasu Houston has completed over twenty-eight commissions in theatre, musical theatre, and opera. Her career began off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, expanding nationwide and globally to institutions such as the Old Globe Theatre and Los Angeles Opera. She also writes for film and television and is a published poet, essayist, journalist, and novelist. She has written film work-for-hire for several independent producers, as well as Columbia Pictures, PBS, Eleven Arts Studio, Sidney Poitier, and others. She penned the screenplay for the film short, Path of Dreams, directed by Tamara Ruppart, which has garnered awards nationwide and globally, including best screenplay at the London International Filmmakers’ Festival 2019. She penned teleplays for Desert Dreamers, narrated by Peter Fonda, and for Journey Home by Yoshiko Uchida. She also wrote several episodes for Lancit Media/PBS’ Puzzle Place.
While Houston is multiethnic Japanese, African American, Blackfoot Pikuni Native American, and Spanish and writes on many themes, her work in theatre is the most-produced work about the Japanese female experience in the U.S. A former Japan Foundation fellow, her work extends beyond the cultural front to explore the transnational. She adapted Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women into a play with Asian/Asian American/Black/Latinx themes.
Current film projects include an adaptation of her plays Kokoro (True Heart) and The Peculiar and Sudden Nearness of the Moon; and a play and film adaptation of the short story, Madame Butterfly, by John Luther Long. The play, Madame Butterfly: The Original, will be presented at the Japanese American National Museum. Houston is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Writers Guild of America-West, League of Professional Theatre Women and Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. She is also an Associate Artist of Playwrights’ Arena, Los Angeles. Archives: Library of Congress, Huntington Library.