Velina Hasu Houston

Distinguished Professor of Theatre in Dramatic Writing and Resident Playwright, USC

Velina Hasu Houston’s literary career began Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club and expanded globally from there. She is an internationally celebrated writer with over 30 literary commissions. In New York, nationwide, and globally, her work is produced at notable institutions. For film and television, Houston has written for independents and studios from Columbia Pictures and PBS to Sidney Poitier. Co-recipient of a Mellon Foundation grant, she has also been honored by the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, Japan Foundation, Wallace Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and others. Houston founded graduate playwriting studies at the School of Dramatic Arts, University of Southern California (USC), where she is a presidentially appointed distinguished professor and resident playwright. She also is USC Iovine and Young Academy faculty, associated faculty of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, and affiliated faculty with East Asian studies and American studies and ethnicity. 

Houston has been a guest at the University of California at Los Angeles, Doshisha Daigaku (Kyoto), Aoyama Gakuin Daigaku (Tokyo), Keio Daigaku (Tokyo), Osaka University (Osaka), and Kyoto University (Kyoto), as well as numerous institutions in the U.S. A Fulbright scholar and Phi Beta Kappa scholar, she served on the State Department's Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission for six years. Houston’s archives are with the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens; and she is published by American Theatre, Los Angeles Times, Dramatists Play Service, The Dramatist, Smith & Kraus, Temple University Press, and others. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild of America-West, Directors Lab West Advisory Council, Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, League of Professional Theatre Women, and New Circle Theater Company, New York, and its writers’ group; and associate artist, Writers’ Odyssey at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Los Angeles.

Image by Ken Matsui