Vaimoana (Moana) Litia Makakaufaki Niumeitolu
vaimoana litia makakaufaki niumeitolu is an Artist (painter, poet, actor), Activist, Educator, Community Organizer & Leader..and then sum. Moana was born in Nukuíalofa, Tonga; raised in Provo and Orem, Utah and now lives in Harlem, New York (Uptown Baby!) She graduated from New York University in the Studio Art Program concentrating in Painting and earned the Ellen Stoekel Fellowship from Yale University. As a Graduate Student, she attended Columbia University in the Theatre Masters Program and then worked at the United Nations in NYC. She has performed her poetry and performance art at New York Cityís Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bar 13, SOBís, Cantor Film Center, Bronx Museum, Locus Media Gallery, and SoMarts Gallery in San Francisco, California and Villa Natalia in Florence, Italy. Her first play, Tongue-in Paint, a full-length performance art event was performed at Dixon Place in New York City in April 2001 and later turned into a one woman show and performed at Performance Space 122 in the soloNOVA arts festival in the Summer of 2008. Her one act play, A Prayer for Tonga was produced and performed at Harvard University’s Loeb Theatre in Feb. 2004 for the WINC Theatre Festival.
Niumeitolu has appeared in Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements (2000) that later turned into Secret History at the Ohio Theater, which was named one of the Best shows in New York City in 2001 and in Lee Nagrin’s The Valley of Iao at La MaMa Theater, New York City (2000). Moana has taught Visual Arts, Theatre and Writing to youth in the South Bronx, Harlem, Brooklyn, Chelsea and the Lower East Side for the past 10 years and continues to teach and be active in raising awareness for Youth Rights and Education. Her paintings & drawings have been shown in New York City, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Utah and Florence, Italy. She loves that she is growing older. Life has just begun.
sign/birthdate: Gemini, June 17
birthplace: Nukuíalofa, Tonga
inspirations: ocean, rocks and the sky, Gabby, La Chata, Mi Familia, Tonga and the Pasifik, My kids in the boogie down!, My peeps, Robert Nester Marley, Ntozake Shange, Staceyann Chin, Public Enemy, Kehinde Wiley, Cy Twombly, Good Home Cookiní, Nueva York, and lots and lots of drawings & paintings and lots and lots of unconditional Love!!!
Moana collects lip gloss and craves vegan brownies, sunny beaches and tongan, indian & thai food. Born the youngest of her familia of 5 kids, in the Vaiola Hospital in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, Moana and her family moved to Hawaíii when she was only 3 months old. In Hawaíii, she fell in love with running around barefoot and promised to wear flip flops even when it gets cold. When she was 4 years old, they moved to Provo, Utah (culture shock!) and lived in a trailer park with other immigrant families from Equador, Mexico, Tonga, New Zealand, and Uganda. Age 9, her familia moved to the suburbs of Orem, Utah. She stopped going to the Mormon church when she was 16 and has never gone back. Age 18 she ran away from Utah to NYC with $1.76 in her pocket. She was once a wife to Bob Marley but no one remembers.
Gabriella (Gabby) Callender
Gabriella Callender is a Singer, Songwriter and is the heart of Mahina Movementís music. Gabby represents Hollis, Queens, New York, where she was raised by an adopted family. Gabby has a fierce passion for music and has consistently been writing songs since she was 5 years old. Her story is featured in the documentary, Anomaly, which offers a compelling look at the experiences of people of mixed ethnicity, directed by Jessica Chen Drammeh. In Anomaly, Gabby performs her autobiographical song, “Black and White,” and talks about her adoption and journey of self-discovery to find her birth mother. In 2003, she was part of the Palestine Truth Tour, that featured speakers and artists who traveled across the Nation to inform and educate people about Palestine. Her poem, ìThe Wordî was performed by youth at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, USA (2004). She is also the founder of Communities Connect, an event where New York City artists and the communities they represent come together and create possibilities in fulfilling each othersí needs.
sign/birthdate: Capricorn, December 27, (One Tuesday in a Late December, brand new goat just brushing off the hunter, surrounded by clouds, dreaming, flying with both feet firmly planted in the sky.)
birthplace: Wingdale, New York
inspirations: Children, songs, nature, people on the F train, friends, lovers, intimacy, love, chocolate cake, rainy days, sunny days, baby oil, soft touches, music, conversations, silence, empty bowls, Cream of wheat, books, community, gods, goddesses, possibilities, truthful people, a brand new day.
Gabby is a lover of African Studies, World History, Metaphysics, tool boxes and cook books. She is a born and raised New Yorker and proud of it . A Big time Practical Joker, Gabby admires loud laughter. She adores earth scents especially patchouli and sage. P.S. If you want to see her outside of a Mahina Movement light, you can hear her voice on Eric Jerome Dickeyís audio book “Liar’s Game.”
Erica R. DeLaRosa
Erica R. DeLaRosa is a triple threat (actor/singer/dancer) activist and educator. A Native Texan or rather Tejana, Erica began dancing at the age of two and never stopped. She is a member of the Dance company, OwlRedMoon, who combine African and Native American dance and are based in NYC. She left her hometown of San Antonio at eighteen to attend New York University and graduated with a degree in Drama. Erica now proudly resides and represents Harlem, baby! She has been a part of several cast productions at New York University. Erica has returned home and has been a guest director at the Guadalupe Theater, directing Grupo Animo (the resident Teen Theater Company) in their original production of Pedacitos de Nuestra Vida/ Little Pieces of Our Lives. She has also served as Casting Director for the upcoming film Bad Behavior (Marta Masferrer, Director). An advocate for Children’s Education and Teaching Artists, Erica, continues to educate (and learn from) her students and colleagues in Jackson Heights, Queens and in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
sign/birthdate: Sagittarius, November 29
birthplace: Houston, Texas
inspirations: Mi Familia, Mis Amigos, home, my students and everyone and everything that crosses my path
Erica (a.k.a. La Chata) is a Xicana from San Anto, Tejas who can whip up a mean batch of ceviche. La Chata is the proud Madrina of Irene Quintero and Ava Elizabeth Jessop. She is a collector of the Homies and a connoisseur of Tequila. Her passions include, cooking, reading, dancing, shoe shopping and saying the word “Dude!” La Chata is the oldest of three ruca locas. Her familia lives in their casita, in the barrio, of San Antonio, which include her parents, Anna Maria and Geronimo, her hermanitas, Gabriela and Veronica, Ruben (Ronnie’s boyfriend), Little One, the cat and their three dogs, Roxy, Teddy and Comet (a.k.a. Chacho). She is not pro-Bush even though she is proud to be a Tejana.