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University of California Irvine Dream and Passions Film Guest Speaker Interviews

Prompt:  Prepare TWO questions for each guest speaker. Total Eight Questions for 4 speakers

You can prepare your questions ahead of time, if you wish, by viewing the websites and links provided below.

Write your questions in chat, during class, so that I know each student has prepared two questions for each speaker.

TWO speakers on Tuesday, July 13, Gunindu Abeysekera and Aditi Mayer

TWO speakers on Thursday, July 15, Gena Hamamoto and Monona Wali


In your WRITTEN assignment clearly indicate the name of the GUEST SPEAKER and repeat your TWO Questions attached to each name.

Total EIGHT QUESTIONS. BELOW YOUR QUESTIONS, ADD a line, OR two lines to let me know what you learned from each speaker.

Here are Bios and Links for guest speakers below:


Bios and Links for Guest Presenters on Tuesday, 

Bio for Gunindu Abeysekera (Guni)

Gunindu Abeysekera is a Queer Sri Lankan-American ethnic studies scholar, digital media storyteller, and community archivist. Guni’s work centers narratives of immigrant artists and activists and how they manifest memories of their homeland through their work.

His family immigrated to the United States from Sri Lanka in the year 2000 when he was two years-old, and he has lived in Orange County ever since. As a result, much of Guni’s personal and academic interests have involved the experiences of growing up in the South Asian American diaspora.

During his time as an undergraduate at UC Irvine in 2017, he and his friends founded UCI’s first ever South Asian Student Union (SASU), a space where students from all backgrounds can actively participate in both celebrating and unpacking the problematic aspects of their South Asian identities.

During his master’s in Asian American Studies at UCI in 2019, Guni created a documentary film to accompany his written thesis on the colonial-banned South Asian dance form, Bharatanatyam, and its relation to diasporic “nostalgia without memory.”

While anticipating a PhD in anthropology, Guni is currently developing an interactive archive for the Sri Lankan-American diaspora called “Project ISLAND: Introducing Sri Lankan American Narratives in the Diaspora.”

Here is the link to Guni’s website:


Bio for Aditi Mayer:

Aditi Mayer is a sustainable fashion blogger, photojournalist, labor rights activist, and frequent speaker on topics of social and environmental justice. Her work looks at fashion and culture through a lens of intersectionality and decolonization. 

In 2014, Aditi had her start in the sustainable fashion movement after learning about the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse. Seeing the fashion industry’s disproportionate on people of color globally, Aditi looked to understand the historical and sociopolitical underpinnings that allow the fashion industry to function in a colonial manner, rooted in exploitation and extraction of both labor and the natural environment. 

She serves on the council of State of Fashion, Intersectional Environmentalist, and has judged various fashion competitions, from Lakme Fashion Week to the Marie Claire Sustainability Awards. Aditi will be spending 2022 as a Fulbright National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, spending one year documenting the social and environmental impacts of India’s fashion supply chain.

Links to Aditi Mayer’s website and more:

Aditi Mayer’s website below:

Here’s a recent feature in VOGUE about Aditi Mayer:

Here’s a piece Aditi Mayer wrote for State of Fashion that can provide as a good primer for her presentation:

Bios and Links for Guest Presenters  

Bio for Monona Wali

Monona Wali is a novelist and short story writer and an award-winning documentary filmmaker.  She received an M.F.A. from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 1983 where she earned the Lynn Weston Memorial Prize. She is known for Maria’s Story (1990) and Grey Area (1982). Monona will present her film Grey Area on Thursday in class.

Her thesis film Grey Area was recently included in “One Way or Another: Black Women’s Cinema, 1970-1991” which Richard Brody described in The New Yorker as “The most important repertory series of the year.”

Her debut novel My Blue Skin Lover won the 2015 Independent Publishers Gold Award for Multi-cultural Fiction. Many of her short stories have been published in literary journals including The Santa Monica Review, Tiferet, and Catamaran.

She led writing groups for incarcerated juveniles through the Inside Out Writers Program for seven years.

She currently teaches writing and literature at Santa Monica College in Los Angeles.

Link to a review of the film Grey Area by Monona Wali, which she will present in class is available on this website:

Here is the link to Richard Brody’s review of “Grey Area” in the New Yorker.

This review will help you understand the film ahead of time.

Gena Hamamoto has not yet sent her Bio or any links.  

I found these links if they are of any help. These will give you some idea of the range of Gena Hamamoto’s work:


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