He was humble and sweet, rarely uttering an unkind word about anyone. And, if I ever did so, he’d quietly come to that person’s defense--pleading with me to give them another chance. That’s just the way he was, an unpretentious champion for the underdog.
Yet he was also a relentless and devoted Associate Producer. A tireless publicity machine, Derrick Michael Holmes was our man in Tokyo working as Director of International Marketing and Publicity for the Far East. An African American actor, dancer and model, he was that rare gaijin in Japan who really “got” the culture. He fit in like, dare I say it, white on rice.
Last week, Derrick-san passed away and our Watermelon Sushi World nearly ended. After all, he was the one maintaining our brand in the global spotlight. Besides marketing our Watermelon Sushi film, he kept the public informed about this Watermelon Sushi World blog, our Watermelon Sushi Facebook fan page, our Hapa*Teez facebook fan page and YouTube vid clip, our War Brides of Japan documentary’s three YouTube vid clips and Facebook fan page—and, so much more. Derrick-san tweeted, g-plused, mixi-ed and facebooked us constantly, without complaint and without looking for compliments.
Please join me in sending Derrick-san off on his new journey with a “sayonara and arrigatou gozaimashita”. Your Hip Hapa is forever grateful that this incredibly brilliant star spent his last few years shining on our Watermelon Sushi World.
Another bright star is this week’s featured Hip Hapa Homeez, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni. You may recall Fanshen as being one half of the Mixed Chicks. Well, Fanshen has some revolutionary news for you! Here’s the link to her latest: www.onedropoflove.com
|Fanshen at six months|
Q: Who are your parents and how did they meet?
A: My mom identifies as Cherokee, Danish and Blackfoot Indian. My father is Jamaican (born and raised), and identifies as Pan African. They met in college, when dad was my mom's Political Science TA.
|Fanshen with Dad|
Q: How were you raised?
A: My parents divorced early. Then, my mom, brother and I moved around quite a bit. We lived everywhere from a 'hippie' commune in DC, to a racist town in Maine, to liberal Cambridge, MA.
Q: According to your blog, your name Fanshen means "to start a revolution". In so many ways, you've done just that with Mixed Chicks Chat on Blog Radio (Talkshoe) and the annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival. Now, you've got a one-woman show about you and your father. How does writing and performing differ from what you've been doing previously?
|Fanshen in Chinese|
A: Thank you! I spent a lot of time creating and producing both, and I just loved being able to offer a safe place for people to share their stories. But then a little over a year ago, I realized that in creating that space for others I hadn't really afforded myself the same opportunity. It's very humbling to be the one creating and submitting my own work, instead of the one deciding which work to include.
|with Winston Barrington|
Q: In the show, you say that you’re “in search of your father’s approval”. What does your father think of that?
A: You'll have to see the show or watch the documentary to find out :)
Q: As an actress, you’ve been told to choose between being either "white" or "black" as casting options. Did you ever do that? Do you think that practice will ever change?
A: Yes, I did it often when I first moved to LA. I'd change my hair, I'd code switch--become anything I thought they'd wanted. I finally learned that I had to start with who I am at my core that would free me to be present on film/stage. It has changed some. There is now a breakdown for 'us': Ethnically Ambiguous. But, since many casting directors lack broad cultural experiences, they often still don't have the context to be able to imagine 'us' in some roles.
|Peace Corps days|
Q: Where can we see your One Drop of Love show and upcoming feature documentary?
A: The show will debut in Los Angeles in March 2013. Then I'll go into pre-production on the film after I graduate in June 2013 (the performance piece is in partial fulfillment of my MFA degree). I'll keep you posted with more details!
Q: Where would you like for your acting career to eventually take you?
|at Critical Mixed Race Studies conference, Chicago|
photo by Ken Tanabe
A: I'd love to tour with One Drop of Love and include interactive workshops along with the performance. I will continue to do theater--my first love--but I also want to continue to write for film (I've co-written two features) and produce and act in those films. Perhaps one day I'll even get to work with you, Yayoi!
Finally, I'm proud to say that you can catch me in a pivotal scene in the thriller Argo, which is out in theaters now.
Until we meet again, here’s a wish for eternal peace from...
Your Hip Hapa,