To continue the AMAZING WOMEN I KNOW series… today, I want to shout out to my good friend, Christie Guidry!
Christie has been a company/staff member of Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company since 2004. That’s when I met her. It turns out, she’s a woman of many talents. She’s good at everything she tries.
She has acted in many shows with us, as well as other theatres in Houston. She also does films and commercials and voice acting, so she’s a very accomplished working actress.
In addition, she is a professional photographer for the company she founded, Gentle Bear Photography. She has professionally photographed wildlife for the Alaskan Zoo and others, as well as promotional and archival photos for theatre productions, headshots, etc.
She is a huge animal lover, and used to be the Manager/Wolf keeper/handler at Saint Francis Wolf Sanctuary. She’s also into gardening, as a hobby, and shes good at that, too.
If that wasn’t enough, Christie owns her own business as a LuLaRoe Fashion Retailer, where she has enjoyed considerable success.
Also, she’s stunningly beautiful, smart and funny, a fabulous dog mom and one of the best people I know. I’m proud to count this accomplished woman among my closest friends.
Lately, I’ve been really distracted with everything going on in the world, as have most of us, I’m sure. I took a break from blogging, which probably made my 6 followers very sad, if they noticed at all.
I decided to fire it back up today on a positive note with another installment of AMAZING WOMEN I KNOW. Today’s amazing woman is a fellow Houston Artistic Director, Kim Tobin-Lehl.
Kim is the co-founder/Executive Director and Artistic Director for 4th Wall Theater, here in Houston, TX. She’s an actor, director, manager . Basically an all-hats wearing lady who has worked extensively on the stages of Houston, Los Angeles and New York City.
She’s won a bunch of awards for her acting and directing work in Houston, including numerous Houston Press awards, and having worked with some of the world’s best teachers in acting and directing (including Stella Adler), she also runs her own acting studio, Kim Tobin Acting Studio, to share her knowledge with the artists here in Houston.
She’s also the friend I can vent to about how it is to be in charge of a theatre (particularly a woman in charge of a theatre), so we have to meet for lunch now and then and let off steam so we can both survive it.
Also, she has a really nice and talented husband and the cutest dog ever.
I haven’t blogged in a while, because like a lot of people, I just can’t focus right now. And I can’t think of anything to say that someone else isn’t saying better.
So…. How about another edition of ‘FABULOUS LADIES I KNOW?’
And today.. It’s LYNDSAY SWEENEY, because tomorrow is her birthday, and she’s fabulous!
If you have seen Lyndsay on stage, you already know that she’s HILARIOUS. I’ve directed her in a few shows and acted with her once, and her comic timing and facial expressions are always spot on. Even when she’s just joking around when we’re hanging out, she cracks me up.
She’s worked with a lot of theatre companies in Houston… The Classical Theatre, Catastrophic, Landing, AD Players, and others.. often getting nominated for awards for her performances. I’ve worked with her in my company, Mildred’s Umbrella, and she always cracks me up and brings fun to the rehearsal process. Here are some photos of her in shows I directed. You can tell by the photos that she’s an incredible actress. I do recommend going to see her in a show when we’re all up and running again. You won’t be sorry.
In addition to her massive talent as a theatre artist, she’s a teacher who works with tiny tots, through elementary school aged kids, schools and in theatres. They love her because she is patient, fun and kind. That is a talent that cannot be faked, and it makes me very proud of her. Here is her teaching at Brave Little Company. You can see why the kids love her.
Her kindness comes through in everything she does. When she decided to adopt a dog, she was super picky about it, and it took forever. I thought she was looking for perfection, but instead of picking a new puppy or an easy dog with no issues, she chose a dog who had been abandoned and neglected, who had some physical issues that needed help and some issues from the abandonment that needed patience and love to get past. She picked a dog who needed someone exactly like her, and she put in the work to bring her back to health and happiness. Watching her do that has impressed me more than any show I ever saw her do.
She’s one of the best friends I have ever had. She’s always there for me if I call on her, and always tells me the truth about things, even if it’s not what I want to hear. I love her and trust her, and I want the world to know how fabulous she is.
Thank you for sticking by me, Lyndsay. I love you. Happy Birthday!
It’s been a bit since I blogged. I’m working on one now, but a lot is going on, so I keep putting it off. Meanwhile, I’ll do another ‘Fabulous Women I Know” post… this time, it’s about Dabrina Sandifer!
I met Dabrina when she took over a role in our play festival at the last minute and learned the lines and the part in like a day or something and knocked it out of the park with her performance. I was like… ‘who is this rock star?!” and I wanted to know her better.
Well, it turns out, she IS an all around superstar. When you see her in a photo, it is obvious that she is a glamorous and beautiful woman with a strong mind and a confident personality (yes, you can tell all that from a photo. Look at the one I just posted!)
But other than that, you wouldn’t believe all the stuff she does.
She is an actress,director and producer in Houston theatre. She is the Executive Artistic Director and Programming manager Esurient Arts, whose mission is To present art that reflects under-represented stories and making the arts and training accessible to all. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/pg/esurienttheater/about/?ref=page_internal
Esurient does all kinds of performance related projects, and is also going to do some programming for youth in under-served communities this summer. Dabrina is also on the board of Mildred’s Umbrella, the company I founded that supports the work of women in theatre, and she works with many other companies in town, as well.
She is a guest host on the radio show, Living Art, on KPFT, and she’s got a solo radio show debuting this week on ALL REAL RADIO, (it’s on https://www.allrealradio.com/ , and it’s also an app) that focuses on arts and community efforts. It is called ‘Dark Mondays”, so totally check that out!
She is ALSO the program manager in Crisis Intervention & Supportive Services for low to moderate income and under-served communities. The goal for her position is to “bring resources to participants with a mission of empowering, improving quality of life, and providing opportunities for positive progression across generations.”
AND she’s recently done some extra work with the Honorary Mayor of Sunnyside, working alongside HPD to get food and supplies delivered to senior citizens during the Covid-19 crisis.
Even though she is constantly working her butt off to make the world a brighter and better place, she never looks even slightly bad. Somehow, in all of this work she does, she is always polished, coiffed and gorgeous.
I know it sounds impossible for one person to do all of this, but she does. Sometimes, I think there might be 3 of her, and we just never see them all in the room at the same time.
In addition to this, she is smart, funny, nice, and she loves nature and animals, especially dogs.
So.. obviously I needed to tell everyone about this lovely person that I get to know. Everyone should check out her radio shows and her theatre page. She’s amazing!
I haven’t done a ‘Amazing Woman Who I Know!’ post in a while, so here’s one!
The lovely and talented Laura Moreno!!
Laura is a multi-talented theatre artist.. she’s an actor, director, costume designer, makeup and wig artist (and probably more. That’s what I know). She is also basically the ‘Miss Congeniality’ of Houston Theatre, always making sure we all stay connected, and trying to help support and promote the theatre happening here, whether she’s involved in a show or not.
Recently, you might have seen her acting in The Catastrophic Theatre’s FEFU AND HER FRIENDS, and you might have seen her fabulous costume/makeup design in Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre’s LADIES NIGHT WITH SAMUEL BECKETT.
Laura (right) in “Fefu and Her Friends”
Costume design for LADIES NIGHT WITH SAMUEL BECKETT
(Above, here’s Laura acting in Fefu and Her Friends (rt) and costume design for Ladies Night with Samuel Beckett. )
She supports women in Houston theatre by running a fabulous page on Facebook, where she props up her sisters in Houston theatre by promoting them and their shows: Womxn in Theatre – Houston
Shes also a mom to literally the cutest baby who has ever existed (many people will back me up on this fact), Izzy, and she’s finishing up her MFA in Directing at The University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance after receiving a BFA in acting there in 2016. AND she is a teaching artist for The Alley Theatre and on the advisory board and play selection committee for the Sin Muros LatinX Reading Festival at Stages.
I mean.. there’s probably more, but I have no idea how this woman is winning at life so hard with the stuff I mentioned, much less more. She’s a super hero. She constantly thinks of the community and does so much to prop us all up, while rocking hard with her own work the whole time.
I haven’t blogged for a bit, because my brain has been bouncing around with all this virus chaos, but while I sort out what profound wisdom I feel like sharing next (Haha! Just kidding. It’s just me venting!) I wanted to do another FABULOUS WOMAN I KNOW post.
This time, I want to tell you about my amazing my friend, Patricia Duran Hays. If you know her, you probably already know that she is wonderful, but if not.. Imma tell ya!
Patricia is one of my best friends. She is honest, loyal and wise. She has been there for me through every trial in my life since I’ve known her, with a calming presence and sound advice.
She is also one of the most talented actresses I’ve ever seen. She is a superstar, literally. Last season, she won ‘Best Actress’ in The Houston Press for her work, and it was well-deserved. She’s also a good singer, dancer, director and all around theater artist. She’s a founding member of my company, Mildred’s Umbrella, and has done everything from acting, directing. sound design, costume design, newsletter drafting.. whatever. She’s also worked in almost every theatre in Houston now, and shines on stage in every role she’s in. I don’t think there’s anything she can’t do.
Anyway, she is AMAZING. If you want to see her acting bio, it’s here, but if you’ve ever seen her, you already know: Patricia bio
And, I know its not totally fair for someone to be this amazing AND gorgeous, but she’s also stunningly beautiful.
Anyway, here’s a video I did for her on her birthday if you want to see it.
So.. if you have any acting work right now that can be done under the current social distancing rules, I recommend her for it. Actors are out of work right now while the theatres are closed, and this is one actor you definitely want to hire.
This week, I want to brag about another fabulous woman I know. Her name is Rebecca Ayres. She is a friend who is like a younger sister to me, and she is the other half of the dynamic duo that took Mildred’s Umbrella Theater to the next level (nobody is Robin. We are both Batman).
She has worked in the arts in Houston since 2003 (and I’m not lying that she was basically a child back then). She worked with Diverse Works and Infernal Bridegroom, which was the coolest theater back then, and is now Catastrophic Theatre. That’s when I met her, but then she went off to travel for a while and got a degree at NYU in Anthropology and Comparative Literature, because she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. She also started working for Mildred’s Umbrella here and there around 2007ish, doing set design and technical stuff for us. In 2012, she started helping more with the administrative side, and served as our Managing director for several years. Because of her, we now have a database, a ticketing service that we can control, and organized files that we can actually find.
While she was doing all that organizing for us, she also went and got a Master’s degree in Arts leadership, and is working at a fancy job now at the American Heart Association, but still helping me with the theater when I ask because I basically can’t live without her.
She is a huge supporter of animals, and has gone above and beyond over and over to rescue hurt and lost animals that she finds or hears about. She’s also a pet whisperer. I think she talks to them telepathically, or she knows their language or something.
Anyway, she’s super smart, pretty, compassionate, organized and she can lift a couch by herself because she does that Cross-Fit stuff that I wouldn’t dare try because I would die. She is funny and nice, but she doesn’t suffer fools.
The last photo is courtesy of Gentle Bear Photography, btw..
I haven’t blogged in a while, because a lot of stuff has gone on for me recently, but I’m overdue for a post about an amazing woman I have the privilege of knowing.
This one is about CATHY POWER. Power is her name, and she lives up to it as an artist and as a person.
First of all, she is an incredibly talented musician. In addition to all the instruments she can play, she’s a beautiful singer. I remember the first time I heard her singing voice. I was helping a band called THE MISFIRES get gigs, and she was the singer on their recorded demo CD, and I thought she had one of the prettiest voices I’d ever heard. Then I saw her in a couple of shows at Infernal Bridegroom and later Catastrophic, and it turns out, she is a good actress, too. I’ve gotten to know her a bit since then, and I’ve discovered that she’s also just a really good person. She always jumps in to help when she can, and she is kind and compassionate. Recently, she jumped right in to help me find a way to re-home some cats because she is just good-hearted.
Here is her official bio:
Cathy Power is a multi-instrumentalist and singer. Cathy composes and performs with Two Star Symphony when they play as an eight-piece band. She recently worked with them on a new composition for Dominic Walsh and Whim W’him Dance Company to be performed live in Seattle in January 2016. She also recently contributed as a composer and performer to the critically acclaimed album Seven Deadly Sins, which was released in 2015. Cathy also performs and records with the band, Merel and Tony and The Woe Woe Woes. Cathy was a member of the Infernal Bridegroom Productions company and orchestra for over ten years and is currently a member of The Catastrophic Theatre Orchestra. Among the many highlights of her career are playing Laurie in Speeding Motorcycle, a rock opera based on the life and work of Daniel Johnston, being named “Best Spectacle” in 2001 by the Houston Press for her work as a performance artist, being a musical presenter at TedX Houston, being recognized with Two Star by TALA as 2012’s Artist of the Year, and winning awards two years in a row working as a composer with Hot Pixel Action for Houston’s 48 Hour Film Project.
I totally recommend checking out her work. She will also be playing with one of her bands, Houston’s A.S.S. ( an accordion cover band), at Mildred’s Umbrella’s WOMEN ROCK! Fundraiser at Rudyards on Feb 22.
I was working on another blog post, but it was getting a little negative, and being that it is Thanksgiving weekend, I want to do something positive, so I’m going to tell you about another amazing woman I have the pleasure to know.
Her name is Leighza Walker, and she runs Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company’s (the company I founded in 2001) short play festival, Museum of Dysfunction. She took the festival over a couple of years ago and breathed new life into it after a couple of years of me phoning it in because I was too busy with our other productions. For this, I am eternally grateful to her, but that’s not the only thing she does.
In addition to running a play festival, Leighza is a performance artist, actor, director, storyteller, set designer, producer, and award winning playwright who studied with Edward Albee. Her play Fishing (which she also directed) won the Broadway World Editor’s Choice Award for Best New Play in 2013. She’s performed in many plays as an actress, directed many others and Her one woman shows, Leighzaland: Declaration of a Sovereign Nation, Observations from the LeighzaSphere, and Welcome to the LeighzaHood premiered at Station Theater in 2015 and are being developed for touring. She was selected in 2012 by the Houston Press as one of “100 Creatives” and is the Executive Director (and Queen) of Leighzaland, a non-profit organization dedicated to producing new work and supporting artists in their endeavor to create art.
She is also a mom and an amazing friend. Seriously, if she loves you, nobody had better mess with you, because she will go after them like a mama bear until they leave you alone. She is not scared.
I’m not trying to out her or anything, but I have never seen her in the same place as Wonder Woman, so I’m going with the assumption that they are one and the same.
Today in ‘Fabulous ladies I know’, I want to talk about Ronlyn Domingue, who is my oldest friend, and who is a very successful novelist nowadays. I am very proud of her.
I met her when I was 10 years old. I’d just moved to Lafayette Louisiana, and was going to a new school there. I was used to new schools because I generally went to a different one every year. It was the oil boom in the 80’s, and every time the wind shifted, we moved. I learned to make friends pretty quickly, and to move on just as quickly when it was time to leave a place, but there was one person that I stayed friends with through all that chaos, and that was Ronlyn.
She welcomed the new girl that first week, and we’ve been friends ever since. We didn’t have social media or email then, and getting kids to keep in touch through letter writing was always a long shot, but when I moved back to Houston, Ronlyn always wrote to me, and even when I sometimes got lazy about writing back, she persisted until I did.
That’s her on the left, and me in the back (somehow, I’m the tall one!). Laura, a friend I lost touch with (Ronlyn didn’t, of course!) is in the front.
Even when Ronlyn was 10 years old, she was going to be a writer. At the time, I decided I was, too, and we even wrote a book together. It was terrible, and nobody but the two of us ever needs to see it, but it still exists. Over the years, I didn’t stick with writing in a dedicated way, but she did. Now she is an internationally published author of four novels, as well as essays and short stories. Her first novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, has been published in 10 languages and has been nominated for big book awards. It’s a beautiful book, if you’re looking for some good holiday reading.
She is also a fabulous cook, a lover of nature and animals, and one of the best human beings I’ve ever met. I am enormously proud of her, and I’m so glad we have remained friends.