Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mixed Roots At JANM And Watermelon Sushi Auditions

Aloha Hip Hapa Homeez!

If you weren't there, you missed an incredible event. The second annual Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival in J-town (Little Tokyo) was all that and more. I promise to post photos on the next few blogs once I get the okay from folks who are in them. I'll also be interviewing some of the attendees, so stay tuned.

Arriving at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) on Friday, June 12 (Loving Day), I was greeted by Fanshen Cox and Heidi Durrow (The Mixed Chicks) who were heading to the Democracy Forum to hear the opening remarks by Curtiss Rooks. Afterwards, I hung out in the lobby and met Facebook friends like journalist Amina Kangiwa of, writer/performer Kaypri Actswrite, Arana Fossett founder of The Topaz Club, Mulatto Diaries filmmaker Tiffany Jones, musician Jason Luckett, Hip Hapa Homeez officer Martine McDonald, Blended Nation authors Pamela Singh and Mike Tauber, and so many more. In spite of having a bad hair day, I agreed to be photographed by way too many of them and now I'm suffering on their Facebook pages.

First up, I went to Kaypri's presentation of the piece her mother planned to do before she fell and hurt herself. What an awesomely revealing hour! The discussion was about Kaypri's white southern mother who met and married her African American father while both were active in the Civil Rights movement.

Next, I got caught in a swirl (props to Jen Chau!) as I gathered panel participants and help in setting up my camera for the discussion I was moderating called Mixed-Race Relationships. Between listening to Kim Noonan's Short Filmmaking Crash Course, greeting friends who came to offer support, and checking mics and water bottles, I totally forgot to introduce myself to the audience when it was my turn to go on. But the important thing is that we had an interesting and lively discussion about who multiracial people have relationships with. Panelists Sam Cacas (author of BlAsian Exchanges, a novel about Asian men and black women), Sachiko Jackson (a Nurse Case Manager), and Ann Carli (an independent film producer and former music executive) all freely shared their personal stories. Since I haven't viewed the taped session yet, I won't trust my memory to write more at this point, but I will soon. Some of what was revealed was so deep that I had to come up for air. Gulp!

Hey, what a coincidence that my good buddy Trace happens to work at JANM! During her break, she and I refreshed ourselves in the museum's elegant tea shop. Here's a pix of me sitting with tomodachi. And, yes, those are the raccoon dog's genitalia. Don't ask me.

That night, we partied in honor of Loving Day. See the cake, below. Anyone reading this blog probably already knows that June 12, 1967 was the day the Supreme Court overturned earlier decisions that made Richard and Mildred Loving's marriage illegal in the state of Virginia (and 15 others). He was white, she was black, and they had been arrested in their bedroom for the act of miscegenation (race-mixing).

Returning to the Mixed Roots Festival on Saturday, I sat in on the Mixed In Hollywood session completely intrigued. Karyn Parsons (Hillary of Fresh Prince of Bel Air) was very vocal about what she, as an actress of mixed ancestry, had to endure in the biz. Karyn's father is Jewish and her mother African American. Also on the panel were writer Angela Nissel (Scrubs), film director/producer Joseph Anaya, actress Jenny Rich, and moderator Elliott Lewis.

In the lobby, I briefly spoke with Kim Wayans and her husband Kevin Knotts who have a children's book called Amy Hodgepodge. Yes, she's a Wayans sister and, yes, her spouse is Caucasian and, yes, they wrote the book for their child.

Following lunch at a Japanese restaurant where I had the "House Special" aka the only veggie dish on the menu, I returned to JANM. btw, when are Japanese eateries in America going to become as accommodating as their Thai and Vietnamese brothers and sisters? Look, if you want my money and you've got tofu in the kitchen, whip up something that doesn't contain fish broth for vegans like me! Back at JANM, I sat in on the film screenings and, at Fanshen's request, moderated the Q&A on behalf of filmmaker Tiffany Jones.

Finally, on Sunday, we held auditions for Watermelon Sushi and were totally unprepared for this surprise talent. Check out Killa Chan's YouTube vid here:

Too soon, the wonderful weekend was over. Mad love to the Mixed Chicks for organizing such an amazing event and to all you players who contributed to it. Mahalo nui loa also to all who helped with Watermelon Sushi auditions, and for joining me for dinner in Santa Monica.

My personal rear crawl includes (in alpha order):

Glenn Boggs
Rene Brown, her son Alex and her friend J.C.
Sam Cacas and his wife Dora
Ann Carli
Aklia Chinn*
Robert Clements
Daphne Delores
Gina Hiraizumi
Val hm
Sachiko Jackson
Rae Jones
Pearl, Jr.
Jeff Lee
Miwa Lyric
Yoon-Suk Kim Navarre
Kiyoshi Parker
Gigi Pique
Dmitri, Atsuko and Elena Ragano, and their friends
Ed Rampell
Marlon Ransome
Luis Reyes
Chez Shoji

*Special thanks to Aklia for so generously providing us audition space. Check out her store, Aklia's, at 1515 N Cahuenga in Hollywood (323-461-1810).

Until next week, I'm still...

Your Hip Hapa,

P.S. Don't forget we've still got t-shirts!

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