Mishna Wolff is a writer and humorist living in Los Angeles. She’s originally from Seattle, where she was raised in a blended African American family in a poor minority neighborhood. Growing up she constantly wrestled with her own whiteness and ambitions clashing with her family’s values and means. Conversely, when she was sent to upper middle class white school, she found that just because she shared race with her classmates didn’t mean she belonged. These experiences were the basis for her memoir I’m Down. The book is her hilarious dysfunctional-family story about growing up in an all-black neighborhood and her struggle to fit in. It’s also a unique father-daughter story that’s deeply moving and socially poignant. As Kirkus Reviews said, I’m Down “deftly and hilariously delineates the American drama of race and class for one little girl.” It tells the story of how Mishna united the parts of her life to become one whole person.
Mishna made her way to New York through modeling. And her first foray into writing was at age twenty when she wrote a humor piece for BlackBook magazine about Model Turned Actresses. The article offended fashion people and Mishna was hooked. For the next several years, she took the stage at the old Luna Lounge, and Upright Citizens Brigade, honing her comedic skills and performing her personal essays in the LA storytelling series, “Sit n’ Spin”. She has been featured on VH1, Comedy Central, Air America and NPR.Download Bio
I'm DownA Memoir
St. Martin's Griffin
Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. Unfortunately, Mishna didn't quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldn't dance, she couldn't sing, she couldn't double Dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team. She was shy, uncool, and painfully white. And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too "black" to fit in with her white classmates. I'm Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.
“This buoyant memoir is rich in detail but never feels over embellished…I’m Down certainly has serious thoughts on its mind (Wolff actually grew up quite poor and hungry), but the tone manages to be light and triumphant because of the hilarious child-goggles Wolff wears while spinning her tales. Rating: A”
“An authentically funny, truly transcendent work that makes other, sorry-voiced memoirs by a certain more privileged class of writer pale—pun intended—by comparison…Wolff’s focus, and the sweet soul of this terrific book, was on being accepted by her streetwise, wiseass dad, whom she knew loved her—and whom she loved—unequivocally.
“As she tells you at the outset of I’m Down, Mishna Wolff is all white—nothing remarkable, except that her way cool father, “Wolfy,” thinks he’s black (he’s not). What follows is a funny-melancholy coming of age memoir [in which] Mishna searches for identity in her broken home, her snobby, mostly white prep school, and—most restrictive of all—her longing heart.”
"Deftly and hilariously delineates the American drama of race and class for one little girl."