The fifth annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival celebrates stories of the Mixed experience from June 15 to 17 at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. First St. in Little Tokyo.

A free three-day public event, the festival brings together film and book lovers, innovative and emerging artists, and multiracial and multicultural families and individuals for workshops, readings, performances, and film screenings.

The festival hosts the largest West Coast gathering for Loving Day, a nationwide grassroots celebration of the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in 1967. (The plaintiffs were Richard Perry Loving, a white man, and Mildred Loving, a woman of African and Native American descent.)

Festival co-founders Heidi Durrow and Fanshen Cox.

Featured in The New York Times and on National Public Radio, the festival has showcased many talented filmmakers, writers, and performers, including Kip Fulbeck, Danzy Senna, Angela Nissel, Sundee Frasier, Karyn Parsons, Maya Soetoro-Ng (President Obama’s sister) and many more. Last year, festival attendance topped 1,500.

A fiscally sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, the festival is produced by the co-hosts of the award-winning weekly podcast “Mixed Chicks Chat” ( award-winning actor and filmmaker Fanshen Cox, New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow, and actor and documentary filmmaker Jennifer Frappier.

The event is free and open to the public; however, pre-registration is strongly encouraged. The complete schedule can be found online at

Festival Highlights

● Family Day, sponsored in part by the Flourish Foundation, will take place on Saturday, June 16, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring readings and workshops by Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Dana Drucker-Solano, and entertaining children’s videos presented by Sweet Blackberry. Families can also enjoy interactive craft activities all day.

Chandra Crudup is Mixed Roots’ family event coordinator, and she is thrilled to give youth and their families an opportunity to share their Mixed experience at the festival. She is a school social worker, actress, and director/choreographer.

● Mixed Unplugged, a live event with comedy, music, and spoken word performances, will be hosted by acclaimed TV and film actress Erica Gimpel (“Fame,” “Nikita”) and will feature comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” on Saturday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m.

Khanisha Foster is Mixed Roots’ live events producer. She is also a writer, an actress, and the associate artistic director of 2nd Story, a Chicago-based collective of story-makers and story-lovers.

Co-coordinators are Victoria Platt Tilford, an actress, who is honored to host the festival’s live event for her fourth time; and Nikki Hyde, a stage manager in L.A., who currently manages the collaborative effort between Cornerstone Theater Company and Homegirl Café to create Café Vida.

● The annual Loving Prize presentation, held on Saturday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m., will honor scholar G. Reginald Daniel and actors/writers Kim Wayans and Kevin Knotts, authors of the popular children’s book series “Amy Hodgepodge,” based on their own Mixed family. The festival’s annual award is given for inspirational storytelling of the Mixed experience. The Loving Prizes will be presented as part of Mixed Unplugged.

● The festival will present three feature films, including Oscar-shortlist selection “The Loving Story” (directed by Nancy Buirski), the definitive account of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage. This evocative documentary recounts the little-known story of the Loving family.

The festival is also pleased to present several award-winning short films followed by Emmy Award-nominated journalist Tanya McRae.

Jennifer Vaughn is Mixed Roots’ film co-coordinator. She is an academic and educator who teaches college-level economics.

● The festival hosts author readings by award-winning writers who will share stories on the Mixed experience and the intersectionality of identity. Authors include Mat Johnson (“Pym,” “Drop”), a creative writing professor and novelist, and Faith Adiele, an editor, educator, and author of “Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun.”

Jaime Moore is Mixed Roots’ readings coordinator. An author of fiction, she shared her work at the festival last year, and she is excited to coordinate the readings for this year’s festival.

● Published authors and professional filmmakers will hold filmmaking and writing workshops, including “Making the Microbudget Film: Pre, Production, and Post for Under $200,000” by Moviola (

Award-winning poet Neil Aitken will present a workshop on using loss and joy as a vehicle for expression and an opportunity to be understood.

Sheldon Epps, artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse, will guide emerging artists in how best to direct actors (space is limited).

● A panel discussion on “Writing the Mixed Experience for the Mainstream” will feature authors who will speak to the difficulties of and the strategies for writing about the Mixed experience in mainstream media. Confirmed panelists include KPCC’s Leslie Berestein Rojas, filmmaker and writer Eli Steele, and blogger Jason Sperber.

Festival sponsors include the Japanese American National Museum (, Graphic Design, Moviola, Greenhouse Studios, the Flourish Foundation, Poets & Writers Inc. through a grant received from The James Irvine Foundation, and Skylight Books is the festival’s official bookseller.

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