Paula Madison is proudly African-American. Her family is the largest investor in The Africa Channel. She studied African-American history at Vassar. And she was the former head of diversity for NBC Universal.
She was raised in the quintessential black American neighbourhood of Harlem, N.Y., after her parents moved there from Jamaica. But she also happens to be mixed race: her mother was half-Chinese.
That led her on a search that would take her from Toronto to Jamaica to China to find her family. But the question remained: Would they accept her?
Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China, directed by Jeanette Kong, debuts in Toronto at a screening at the Chinese-Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto on Saturday. It's a fascinating look at identity and the quest for belonging in a world where the boundaries between culture and race are shrinking.
"I think it's a truly universal story," says Madison. "It's about a daughter who longed for her father and kept that love through her children. It's about a story of love that transcended race."
Madison, now 62, and her brothers Elrick and Howard grew up in Harlem knowing they were different. Her mother looked Chinese. The children looked black with a hint of Asian. Other kids questioned their ethnicity.
And then there was a sense of loss that seemed to pervade the household.