News Release

Angels Studio/Chicago passes
the JustStories Storytelling Festival to
O’Halloran Diversity Productions/Evanston IL

February 1, 2013

Ten Years of JustStories Storytelling Festivals

The JustStories Festival Storytelling has been co-produced for ten years by Angels Studio/Chicago, (Father Derek Simons) and O’Halloran Diversity Productions (Susan O’Halloran).   During the past ten years the festival has sought to gather storytellers with a commitment to racial justice to perform stories about race and identity.     For nine years the festival and related events were held in the Chicago area.  These nine years are archived at

Seeking a wider audience, the 2012 festival was produced completely online. The online festival was an outstanding success in early August 2012.  The event drew over 3,000 fans, and in the three days of the festival the storyteller videos were viewed by 8,000 visitors world-wide.   Today, the videos, which are still online have been viewed over 12,000 times.   The 2012 festival can still be viewed at  The videos can also be viewed at  Also view them at :


JustStories Festival Project to O’Halloran

During the run of the JustStories Festival Angels Studio/Chicago has been the sole financial sponsor and Executive Producer for the ten years of the JustStories Festival.  This has ended.

On January 3, 2013, Father Derek Simons, after the successful ten year run, has gladly handed over the complete entity of the JustStories Storytelling Festival to Susan O’Halloran of O’Halloran Diversity Productions.    O’Halloran at this time is seeking a new financial sponsor/partner to continue the JustStories Festival initiative.

If you know of a potential sponsor contact Susan at :   Also see Sue O’Halloran’s new Facebook site at as Sue seeks to lay ground work for future JustStories events.


JustStories/RaceBridges Storytelling Fellowship

During the past ten years Angels Studio has also been the sole funder of the JustStories or RaceBridges Fellowship.  This grant is an initiative that  encourages storytellers to develop and perform new stories about race and identity.  This project continues with Susan O’Halloran as coach.  The two 2013 Fellowships have just been announced.  They are to support  the development of new stories by Latinas Jasmin Cardenas of Chicago and Carmen Deedy of Atlanta. An archive of the Fellowship can be found at :

On the Showcase Page of  can be found the short videos of the many storytellers that have made a contribution to the past ten festivals, events and fellowships.   This site receives about 2,000 visitors a month.

All of the lessons. resource and videos on the web sites of  Angels Studio are offered completely free.


Past & Future

In marking this “passing on” of the torch of the JustSories Festival, Father Derek Simons said:

“I am moved and humbled by the many stories that our storytellers have created and performed for  diverse audiences in the Chicagoland area and around the world these past ten years through the JustStories Festival..  I have been privileged to provide an incubator and platform where bold stories about race and identity can be developed and told.  Many of these stories are still captured and told on our online sites.”

“As the headlines in our news tell us daily, there is still a great need to continue to tell stories that will bear witness to the journeys and stories of those who have gone before us and the challenges that remain today as we confront race issues and the mission to connect with people who are different than ourselves.”

“I am proud of what Susan and I and our band of storytellers have achieved and told throughout the past ten years. There will always be a place for JustStories. I trust that a new financial sponsor will emerge.”

In reflecting on the decade long success of the JustStories Festival, Susan O’Halloran said, “When Father Derek approached me a dozen years ago about using stories to promote racial unity, I knew I had met a man of vision. We have found that stories build bridges in ways that lecture, or worse diatribe, never can. We are both looking forward to our next chapters in exploring creative ways storytelling can help us value our differences while celebrating all we have in common.”


Fr. Derek Simons SVD
Angels Studio/Chicago

Susan O’Halloran
O’Halloran Diversity Productions