What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Associate Professor, School of Performing Arts, Theatre, , College of Arts and Humanities
Coordinator of Undergraduate Acting and BFA Acting Program.
I teach Voice, Acting, Shakespeare, Acting for the Camera, Auditioning and I direct productions for UCF Theatre.
I am also the Faculty Advisor/Faculty Artistic Director for Project Spotlight – a student theatre organization that produces two Annual One Act Play festivals and a Ten Minute Play Contest of new plays written by UCF students. One of the original plays Biodegradable Seagulls by Alex Hehr was last year’s National Playwriting Winner for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
This is my 14 year at UCF. The first show I directed for our main stage season was The Laramie Project – a play about the reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. The murder was denounced as a hate crime and brought attention to the lack of hate crime laws in various states, including Wyoming.
I have directed a variety of shows for UCF main stage theatre including:
- Several Musicals
- Two Shakespeare (recently directed Romeo and Juliet set during the 1930s jazz scene)
- August Wilson – who wrote 10 plays, one for each decade of the 20 century focused on the African-American community in Pittsburg
- Greek Comedy
- British Comedy
- Premiered two new plays – Shapeshifter and Spunk and the Harlem Literati (I served as director and playwright)
- Another play about a hate crime entitled Stop Kiss
While at UCF, I have had four productions selected to perform at the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival – two of them as director and two as performer.
During my time here I have also directed a number of professional shows outside of UCF including:
- Theme Park shows, shows for Disney Institute, shows for Disney Event Group as a Walt Disney World Show Director.
- Texas (Dallas and Austin), Tennessee, Toronto, South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg), New York and Kentucky
- Several Play Readings for the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre PlayFest and National New Play Network
As a Voice and Acting Instructor, I have been an invited consultant for: FARO –International 3D Measurement Technology, Engineering and Computer Simulation, Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Programs, Greystar International Property Management, Association of Image Consultants International, Script Consultant for The Spectator – Department of Women’s Studies – University of Maryland, Disney Ambassadors, Florida Hospital, Oak Hill Hospital, LLC, Norvanics Corporation, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Interactor Simulation System, LLC
In addition to Spunk and the Harlem Literati – I have written the following plays: We Carry the Dream (Commissioned and produced by Hangar Theatre) A Day Without Inventions (Commissioned and produced Orlando Science Center), Shakespeare’s Greatest Loves (Commissioned by Buen Hogar Foundation) as well as a screenplay entitled The Eye of the Beast and one TV Pilot entitled Growing Young.
I had been a Guest Lecturer for the University of Ohio, the New Film Academy and Tarrant County College
Selected Awards while at UCF:
Professional Awards Include: Kennedy Center ACTF Kennedy Center Medallion for Artistic Excellence, Suncoast Emmy for Featured Role in The Gallery, WHO’S WHO Among American Women
Selected Academic Awards: UCF Center for Success for Women Faculty “Women of Distinction Award,” UCF Teaching Incentive Award, Women’s Research Award and KCACTF Region IV Teaching Artist Award
Selected National Commendations from Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Acting and Directing include: Distinguished Performance– Aunt Ester –Gem of the Ocean, Distinguished Performance – Rita – The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, Excellence in Directing – The Learned Ladies, Excellence in Directing and National Alternate – The Piano Lesson
Academic Positions before UCF
Associate Professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas – Head of Acting
Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro – Voice/Acting
Other Teaching Positions – University of Vermont, University of Louisville, Jefferson County College
What is your academic background?
Master of Fine Arts in Acting – University of Louisville
What is your favorite UCF memory?
I have two favorite UCF memories:
Working with UCF students to create a production for professional theatre company Hangar Theatre entitled The Dream of the King – a show that depicted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s childhood to young adulthood. The students and I then traveled to New York to perform the piece.
Watching my cast perform the invited production of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Regional Festival and hearing the thunderous applause immediately after the lights went out at the end of the show. I cried because I was so proud of them.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
It would be great to have a new theatre facility for our students and faculty. We have outgrown our current space in numbers, technology and talent. I look forward to the day when our students can perform in a spacious and beautifully designed performing arts annex.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Make the work you do at UCF the work you love to do in life. When it starts to feel like work, remember that you have the privilege of doing what you love to do.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
Scholarships and/or grants designated for African American undergraduate and graduate theatre students
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
President Hitt. I would like to thank him for his commitment and support for UCF arts and pick his brain as to how I can help secure funding and generate community support for Theatre UCF.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Our previous College of Arts and Humanities Dean, Jose Fernandez – two years ago I received a Kennedy Center Medallion for Artistic Excellence for my accomplishments and work for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Dean Fernandez was instrumental in securing funding to travel our productions to the regional festival which made those awards possible.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Dr. Rinda Frye – She taught me to nurture, not just teach. To create fully developed human beings, not just fully developed actors and to stage engaging stories, not just direct plays.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
My work with Master Voice Teacher Kristin Linklater. I had the privilege of studying her methodology for 3 months. Her vocal work taught me that vocal work is not just technique, but life practice. That principle is the foundation of my teaching.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I enjoy my husband’s cooking more than restaurant food. He is a terrific cook and strives to make eating an experience not just a meal.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
I have many favorite movies, too many to mention but my favorite type of movie is a movie that champions the human spirit. Also too many books to mention – favorite authors include Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Conner, Shakespeare, William Faulkner. My favorite group is and will always be Earth, Wind and Fire.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Anywhere – I love to travel – even if it’s just Daytona.