Velina Hasu Houston

Associate Dean of Faculty
Director of MFA in Dramatic Writing
Head of Playwrighting
Resident Playwright
Distinguished Professor


Velina Hasu Houston is the Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Recognition, Director of Dramatic Writing, Resident Playwright and a Professor at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. She began her writing career in New York off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club and the Negro Ensemble Company. She expanded to productions and presentations from U.S. regional theatres to international global institutions ranging from opera to intimate theatres and including 17 commissions; producers include the Old Globe Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Smithsonian Institution, Syracuse Stage, George Street Playhouse, The Pasadena Playhouse, Barrington Stage, Los Angeles Opera, and others.

Houston is also a librettist (opera), bookwriter/lyricist (musical theatre), essayist, poet, screenwriter and novelist. She has been awarded fellowships from Japan Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Wallace Foundation (Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Fund), Aurora Foundation and others. She has been honored by the Kennedy Center, Sidney Poitier, American Film Institute, Pinter Review Prize for Drama, LA Stage Alliance and others. Her plays are studied globally throughout Asia, Europe and the U.S.; and published with Dramatists Play Service, Smith and Kraus, Vintage Books/Random House and others.

She has written journalistically for the Los Angeles Times, American Theatre, The Rafu Shimpo, Pacific Citizen and the Kansas City Star; and for film and television with Columbia Pictures, PBS, and several independent producers. She co-produced the documentary Desert Dreamers (narration by Peter Fonda) and served as Multicultural Consultant for Disney for Hayao Miyazaki’s film Kiki’s Delivery Service. She served for six years on the U.S. Department of State’s U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and Japan-U.S. Bridging Foundation. She was Research Advisor for Contemporary British, Irish, and American Poetic Drama and Theatre, Aoyama Gakuin Daigaku, Tokyo, for two years. Her works are archived in The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., and in The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif.

At USC, she created and directs the Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing program at the School of Dramatic Arts and is also an inaugural Associated Faculty Member of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. She is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild, Writers Guild of America-West, the League of Professional Theatre Women, and the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies. She is a Fulbright Specialist Scholar and is developing a Fulbright project with Aoyama Gakuin Daigaku. Learn more at



PhD, University of Southern California

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