• Portrait of Velina Hasu Houston

Velina Hasu Houston

Distinguished Professor of Theatre in Dramatic Writing

Resident Playwright


Velina Hasu Houston’s career began Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, expanding globally to noteworthy institutions. A playwright and musical theatre/opera librettist, she also is an essayist, published poet, screenwriter, novelist, and journalist with over 30 writing commissions. Honored by the Kennedy Center, Japan Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Wallace Foundation, Theatre Communications Group, Mellon Foundation, and others, she founded graduate playwriting studies at the University of Southern California and directed dramatic writing studies for 31 years. She is USC resident playwright, a presidentially appointed Distinguished Professor of Theatre in Dramatic Writing, and School of Dramatic Arts and Iovine Young Academy faculty. She has written film work-for-hire for several independent producers as well as Columbia Pictures, PBS, Sidney Poitier and others. She penned screenplays and teleplays for Path of Dreams (best screenplay; London International Filmmakers’ Festival), Desert Dreamers (narrated by Peter Fonda), Yoshiko Uchida’s Journey Home and several episodes of Lancit Media/PBS’ Puzzle Place. Her work in theatre is the most-produced work about the Japanese female experience in the U.S. Her play Tea, written in the 1980s, has been produced regularly to present day. A former Japan Foundation fellow, her work extends beyond the cultural front to explore borderless, against-the-current lives. A Fulbright scholar, she served on the US Department of State’s Japan-US Friendship Commission for seven years, and has served as visiting faculty at some of Japan’s leading universities. She is on the advisory board of Directors’ Lab West and the Polycultural Institute, and co-founder of Writers’ Odyssey at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. A member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild of America-West, League of Professional Theatre Women, and Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, her archives are at the Huntington Library. She is affiliated with the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Los Angeles, and New Circle Writers’ Group, New York.