Ethiopian-American Film Co-Produced by Ugly Betty Star

New York, N.Y.  I recently caught up with Salome Mulugeta for lunch on 42nd Street.   I was intrigued because there are not a lot of Ethiopian-American independent film makers in New York.   She told me about the challenges she has had as an immigrant, as a woman, and as a filmmaker.   And about her new co-producer, the catty Marc St. James on  Ugly Betty,  Michael Urie.   Fun mix!
Ethiopian-American independent film maker Salome Mulugeta at a recent NYC fundraiser.
Her latest project is entitled  Woven and it sounded fascinating: the story of an Ethiopian Orthodox family that meets an American family due to an accident that takes place.   Salome is both co-writer and producer.

Salome left Ethiopia at a young age, moving to England where she attended Clarendon School for Girls.   Continuing her cultural clashes, she then graduated with honors from a university in Kansas before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams.

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Woven screenwriters Ryan Spahn and Salome Mulugeta with producer Michael Urie.

Favorite theater endeavors of Salome include  Florence Nightingale,  The Glass Menagerie,Pygmalion, and  My Fair Lady.   Salome received a coveted roll in the acclaimed film Baby of the Family.   The film was directed by the award-winning Jonee’ Ansa.

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Enthusiastic guests who attended the film’s fund-raising event in Manhattan.

Salome wrote  Woven with Ryan Spahn.   Ryan, raised in Troy, Michigan, and Salome, born in Addis Ababa, come from opposite ends of the earth.   This writing/producing team met eight years ago in Los Angeles, and built together a story centering on their two diverse cultures.

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Woven screenwriters Ryan Spahn and Salome Mulugeta with producer Michael Urie.

Producers and co-writers Salome Mulugeta and Ryan Spahn have collaborated with Tony-nominated Kristin Hanggi on what has been called, “a labor of love with award-winning promise!”

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Michael Urie of Ugly Betty fame and Ryan Spahn chatting with guests at the event.

Ryan has won the LA Weekly Theatre Award and was nominated for L.A. Drama Critics Circle, Stage Scene LA, and Ticketholder Awards, for his performance in the L.A. premiere of Celebration Theatre’s  Stupid Kids.   He has performed in The Vineyard Playhouse’s  End Days and the Berkshire Theatre Festival’s  Sick.   His portrayal of Casper and Greta the Maid in the L.A. Premiere of the Sacred Fools’  Act a Lady won him a Stage Scene/L.A. performance citation.

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Professor Ephraim Isaac drew raffle numbers with Michael Urie and Ryan Spahn.

Ryan’s film and TV credits include Fox Searchlight’s  Polish Wedding,  Lovers, Liars, and Lunatics,Star Trek: Voyager,  General Hospital, and  Ugly Betty.   He has written another screenplay with Halley Feiffer entitled  He’s Way More Famous Than You.   A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Ryan currently attends The Juilliard School.

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Ushers of the night – the lovely Loren Lillian and Ahuva Adanani assisted with the benefit.

Over lunch, Salome explained to me the screenplay for their intriguing film:

Woven features multicultural characters whose lives intertwine and explores themes of forgiveness following a tragic accident that unravels family secrets, lies and deception.   The film opens with a scene of a ferocious early morning thunderstorm and a deadly car crash involving one of the Ethiopian-American characters.   The detective investigating the tragic accident soon discovers that this was no ordinary traffic incident.

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Many guests were on hand to support the fund-raising event for Woven.

Michael Urie, best known for performing in the role of Marc St. James on the award-winningUgly Betty, has joined their team as one of the producers.   I reached out to Michael to ask, Why this film?   He related:

Wovenplays with chance, class and forgiveness, while exposing the audience to beautiful traditions of Ethiopian American society.   Salome and Ryan have created is an important piece of writing with nuanced characters, dynamic culture crashes, and gut shattering truth.   The lives within Woven are complete specimens, funny, flawed, and desperate for companionship.

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Sean John the owner of Spur Tree, Salome Mulugeta and D.J. Marcus in New York.

The film has been sponsored by the Lower East Side of Manhattan, MAC Cosmetics, Ethiopian Airlines, Sean John’s Spur Tree, award-winning Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and David Burke at various fundraisers in New York City.

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Woven is in now in pre-production.   Woven LLC has been formed to finance the production of Woven.

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About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

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Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce (www.lucefoundation.org) writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (www.oiww.org), he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

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