365 Days In Shanghai

…or more, and perhaps not in Shanghai


Julian Okwu (julianokwu@gmail.com) is a writer, photographer, father, husband, friend, brother, son, athlete, and dancer, among other things. He’s also a “40-something” on a persistent search to be inspired.

As an expatriate in the city of Shanghai, he’s hopeful opportunities to find what he’s looking for might be around the next corner.


Born into a diplomatic, Nigerian household, Julian Okwu moved with his family to Connecticut when he was a toddler. Years later, after graduating from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, he passed up both law school and the flirtation of playing professional soccer in France and instead moved to Paris to explore both the relationship of images to the written word and the art and language of the cinema.

His first produced film, a short documentary called Reinventing America (1999), drew meaningful praise from an audience composed of presidents from most of the major cable companies in the U.S.

In addition to his interest in film, Julian has authored two books, Face Forward (Chronicle Books, 1997) and As I Am (Chronicle Books, 1999). A significant factor in the recognition of his body of work is the combination of his interviewing technique with his compelling aesthetic. It is a skill that balances a natural sensitivity with sincere curiosity and is as apparent in his films as it is in his publications.

Julian and his books, which combine his black and white photography with edited interviews, were featured on both Oprah and ABC World News Weekend twice, as well as on CNN, and several other networks. They have garnered awards from the New York Public Library and the Boston University School of Social Work, and have been described as “sublime”, “inspiring”, and “arresting.”

He is a San Francisco Public Library Literary Laureate for the year 2000 and has lectured extensively at universities throughout the country.

Presently, Julian is busy writing a novel and, more importantly, raising his inspirational ten-year-old boy, Florian, with his wife, Anja, in Shanghai, China.