( 1957- )
Velina Hasu Houston grew up in Junction City, Kansas. Her father, an African American-Native American, was a military man stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas; her mother was a "war bride" who had grown up in Japan. She attended Kansas State University where she earned a BA in journalism, mass communications, and theatre in 1979. Her early success with a play entry in the American College Theatre Festival led her to the playwriting program at the University of California at Los Angeles where she completed her MFA in playwriting in 1981. She is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at the University of Southern California in the School of Cinema-Television.
In addition to her playwriting, Houston has an active career as a teacher, speaker, poet, author of short stories and children's books, screenwriter, editor, and essayist. She is currently head of the playwriting program and resident playwright at the University of Southern California and has also taught at the University of California-Los Angeles. Velina Houston has written screenplays for Columbia Pictures ( Summer Knowledge), the American Film Institute, Lancit Media Productions, and the Public Broadcasting Service. Her book The Politics of Life: Four Plays by Asian American Women ( Temple University Press, 1993) was the first anthology to focus on the dramatic literature of Asian American women. She is currently editing a comprehensive anthology of Asian American plays entitled A Storm Is Blowing from Paradise for Temple University Press scheduled for publication in 1998. Houston lectures widely on various issues concerning the Japanese experience in America and the phenomenon of the Amerasian legacy.
Houston resides in Santa Monica, California, with her son and daughter.