Elizabeth Lawrence once said, “There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again”. My childhood garden was theatre. Early on I participated in imaginative play and even created mini productions to perform for my family and friends. When most grew out of that phase, I remained intrigued by it. It was my way of escaping the harsh realities of growing up in the volatile small town of East St. Louis, Illinois and being introduced to the world by a single, teenage mother who was struggling to find her own place in the world. I began writing and was actually allowed to write the school’s play during my junior year in high school. By my senior year, I had earned many academic awards and was offered several college scholarships. I desired to attend an arts conservatory, but didn’t have the financial or physical support. Instead, I opted to take a full, four-year Army ROTC scholarship that allowed me to attend the school of my choice provided that school had an active Army ROTC department. I chose to attend Hampton University, one of the most prestigious Historically Black Colleges. There I majored in Speech Communications and Theatre Arts with an emphasis in theatre performance.
In college I learned early how to balance two very demanding departments; the theatre department and the military science department. I was determined to make it work. I also challenged myself to earn an FCC license in radio announcing and become a recognized campus radio personality. I earned many academic and arts awards and had lead roles in several productions to include: “The Amen Corner”, “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show”, and “Steel Magnolias”.
Although I experienced major success in college, I had more challenges entering the professional world of theatre after completing my undergraduate degree. My passion for the arts was compromised by my duty to the country and my premature decision to start a family. I began my mandatory part-time career as an Army officer. Shortly after I was provided with a unique opportunity from Teach For America. I was chosen from thousands of applicants to join the corps as a creative and non-traditionally trained teacher in an urban, under-resourced area. I was sent to Baltimore, Maryland where I was one of the first middle school drama teachers. I was allowed to create my own curriculum and produce the school’s first play. I later moved to Atlanta and obtained a position at the only performing arts elementary/middle school in the area, DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts (DESA). I became co-director of the school’s most prestigious touring performance group and a spokesperson for DESA.
Just as I thought I might have the opportunity to begin pursuing professional theatre work again, I was called to active duty military service in Iraq. Traveling to Iraq was like traveling back to my childhood. It was violent, harsh and unstable. To cope, I mentally went back to that enchanted garden, but this time I had a video camera. I began capturing footage of my experiences and writing and recording stories and narrations. I survived deployment and returned with the inspiration to start my own theatre production company, Trutheatre. I trained adults and children and produced several major productions. Within a year of my return, I also earned a Masters of Education Degree in Education. Later I auditioned to participate in Playhouse 22, a prime- time pilot cable television show created by Robert Townsend to introduce and challenge aspiring writers, directors and producers. I became a finalist in the reality series. The experience led me to expand my skill set by attending film school. In 2012, I received an M.F.A. in Motion Pictures and Television. I continued to work as a performing artist and arts educator while juggling the demands of having a family of budding performing artists. I am proud of the work I have done. I have sown many seeds in good faith. Most recently, I had the pleasure of directing a community production of "Bourbon at the Border" by Pearl Cleage. Now, I have come to the realization that it is time for me to create and cultivate my own enchanted garden with the 2020 launch of Grounded Theatre Werx.
Education & Credentials
B.A. Speech Communication and Theatre Arts, Hampton University, 1992
M. Ed. Middle School Education, Brenau University, 2006
M.F.A. Film and Television, Academy of Art University, 2012
FCC License Radio Engineering and Announcing