Christine Ha, Josh Blue, Mike Veny
Tuesday, February 15, 2022

ReelPeople: UP Abilities

Christine Ha, Josh Blue, Mike Veny
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Event Schedule

Speakers: 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Q&A: 8:00 PM - 8:30 PM

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Event Overview

An extraordinary evening with extraordinary stories.

ReelPeople: UP Abilities, in partnership with The UP Experience, features presentations from three extraordinary experts that will open a window into the world of disabilities with both intimacy and urgency.

Speaker Name: Josh Blue

Following his third place finish on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Josh Blue is hitting the road with his "As NOT Seen on TV Tour." There’s nothing quite like the experience of seeing a Josh Blue show LIVE.  In the words of the great Howie Mandel, “This is the year of Josh Blue!”, so get your tickets and “Buckle UP!”.  

After his groundbreaking win on Last Comic Standing in 2006, Josh Blue has risen through the ranks to become a well-established headliner at venues throughout the world. In 2018, Josh crushed his set on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In the same year, he was honored with a performance at the William H. Macy Gala at the prestigious Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, Canada. He wrapped up 2018 by recording his fifth hour special, Broccoli, at his home club, Comedy Works in Denver, Colorado. Josh has cerebral palsy, specifically classified as spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, and many of his jokes center on living with his disability, how he deals with it, and how other people view him. Josh does over 200 shows a year, continuing to spread laughter and break down stereotypes. His stand-up routine is in a constant state of evolution and his off-the-cuff improvisational skills guarantee that no two shows are ever alike.

Speaker Name: Christine Ha

Christine Ha is the first-ever blind contestant and Season Three winner of the competitive amateur cooking television show “MasterChef” with Gordon Ramsay. She defeated over 30,000 home cooks across America to secure the coveted MasterChef title, a $250,000 cash prize, and a cookbook deal.

Christine holds a Master of Fine Arts from the nationally acclaimed Creative Writing Program at University of Houston, where she served as Fiction Editor for Gulf Coast literary journal, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

Christine’s first cookbook, Recipes From My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food, was a New York Times best-seller. She has been featured on NPR, the BBC, CNN International, and TEDx.. She has also spoken about disability advocacy at the United Nations and served as a culinary envoy overseas for the American Embassy as part of cultural diplomacy programs in Jordan, Serbia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and Croatia. She was a co-host on the Canadian cooking show “Four Senses” and a judge on “MasterChef” Vietnam.

Christine received the 2014 Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind, a recognition formerly bestowed upon Ray Charles, Patty Duke, and Stevie Wonder among others. Ha’s first restaurant in Houston, The Blind Goat, was named a semi-finalist for 2019 Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. Her second restaurant, Xin Chào, opened in Houston in September 2020.

Speaker Name: Mike Veny

Mike’s path to becoming a great salesman became evident at an early age. He convinced the staff at several psychiatric hospitals to discharge him three different times during his childhood. In addition to being hospitalized as a child, he was expelled from three schools, attempted suicide, and was medicated in efforts to reduce his emotional instability and behavioral outbursts.

By the fifth grade, Mike was put in a special education class. Aside from getting more individualized attention from the teacher, he learned that pencil erasers make great sounds when tapped on a desk. He had no idea that drumming would become his career or his path to recovery.

As an adult, Mike spent many years facilitating drum workshops for children with special needs, teaching them to channel their energy by banging a drum while also learning how to listen, focus, work together and succeed through teamwork. The project was such a hit that he continued to expand his drumming program, first to adults in recovery and eventually into the corporate setting.  Mike’s bestselling book Transforming Stigma: How to Become a Mental Wellness Superhero has become a valuable mental health resource for people of all ages. Mike’s mission is to help others receive the gift of emotional wellness.

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Christine Ha posed in a kitchen, a cutting board with brightly colored peppers in front of her
Christine Ha
Speaker
Christine Ha is the first-ever blind contestant and Season 3 winner of the competitive amateur cooking television show “MasterChef” with Gordon Ramsay.
Josh Blue
Josh Blue
Speaker
Following his third place finish on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Josh Blue is hitting the road with his "As NOT Seen on TV Tour." There’s nothing quite like the experience of seeing a Josh Blue show LIVE.
Mike Veny
Speaker
Mike’s bestselling book Transforming Stigma: How to Become a Mental Wellness Superhero and The Transforming Stigma Workbook have become valuable mental health resources for people of all ages. Mike’s mission is to help others receive the gift of emotional wellness.

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Christine Ha, Josh Blue, Mike Veny
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An extraordinary evening with extraordinary speakers.
Christine Ha, Josh Blue, Mike Veny