LitWorld welcomes Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, our host for Gala 2013!
Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is an award-winning Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word poet, actress, playwright, and filmmaker who has performed at over 500 venues worldwide including 3 seasons on Russell Simmons HBO Def Poetry.
Tsai has rocked stages at the White House, House of Blues, Apollo Theater in Harlem, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Tyra Banks' Flawsome Ball hosted by Drake.
A recipient of commissions and grants from New York Live Arts, Asian American Arts Alliance, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Asian Women's Giving Circle, Tsai has been profiled on Idealist.org in NYC's Top 40 New Yorkers Who Make Positive Social Change, AngryAsianMan.com’s 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30, and HBO's East of Main Street: Asians Aloud.
Her work has been widely published in journals and anthologies like The Spoken Word Revolution Redux and We Don't Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Wave of Feminists. Her spoken word film "By-Standing..." won the Media that Matters War & Peace Award and screened at festivals across North America and Europe. Previous collaborations include work with theater companies (Ping Chong & Co., Remy Bumppo Theater Co.) and dance companies (Urban Bush Women, InSpirit, VTDance).
Her ensemble spoken word theater project Say You Heard My Echo and her choreo-solo show Formosa have been developed/presented by HERE Arts Center, Ars Nova, New York Live Arts, Rising Circle Theater Collective, DC Hip Hop Theater Festival, Chicago's Public Square/Experimental Station, Museum of Chinese in America, and Philadelphia's Asian Arts Initiative.
Throughout her evolution as a spoken word poet, actress, playwright, and filmmaker, Kelly strives to broaden the impact and reach of spoken word poetry in its efforts to transform political realities, revolutionize arts and entertainment, and empower audiences across the globe.
LitWorld's Story Power Award
Our Story Power Award honors an individual who exemplifies the mission and values of LitWorld. This individual receives the Story Power Award as a testament to the power of the individual’s capacity to effect change through the power of words and stories and as an advocate for children. Past honorees have included Walter Dean Myers, Naomi Shihab Nye, Carmen Agra Deedy and Bryan Collier. This year, we are thrilled to honor Rafaela B. Capellan with our Story Power Award.
A multimedia artist who believes in “finding opportunities in challenges,” Rafaela (Betty) Capellan has served as Broadway Housing Communities’ Educational Advocate and Family Service Coordinator since 2001.
For nearly 13 years, Betty’s work at Broadway Housing Communities has helped re-write the script for children and families facing the challenges of deep generational poverty. Through one-to-one mentoring and hands-on advocacy with students and their parents, Betty insures that every child she works with receives the support and guidance she or he needs to navigate the education system, from the earliest grades through high school and into college.
Integrating her passion and insight as an artist with her commitment to supporting the dreams and potential of every child, Betty designs and leads programs that celebrate learning, particularly through engagement with the arts. Over the last two years, Betty’s stewardship has facilitated a deepening partnership between Broadway Housing Communities and LitWorld, bringing important new opportunities to the school-age children living at BHC’s Dorothy Day Apartments.
As a visual artist, Betty has exhibited her work in the Dominican Republic and in New York City including at The Rio Penthouse Gallery and The Rio II, community art galleries located in Washington Heights and West Harlem and hosted by Broadway Housing Communities. Betty’s film work includes “For Fear of Dishonor: The Ilka Tanya Payan Story” which chronicles the life and times of the famed Dominican actress, lawyer and AIDS activist. Collaborations with other well-known writers and filmmakers include her work on Rene Fortunato’s series “Tras la Huellas de Palao” documenting the life and work of the first Dominican filmmaker. Currently, Betty is researching her next video and art projects.
Betty is a graduate of Hunter College and resides in New York City.
Photo credit: Michael Palma