Courtney Lomelo!

I have had one of the busiest few months ever lately, so instead of an essay, I decided to do another episode of “Awesome women I know!” Today’s awesome friend is COURTNEY LOMELO!

Courtney is one of the coolest friends I’ve ever had. She’s like that one girl in high school that is gorgeous and popular, but still nice to you, even if you’re a dork, because she’s way too mature to be a mean girl. She’s one of those people that I can’t even believe is my friend sometimes, because she’s just so perfect.

This lady is a movie star AND a movie producer (proof! : https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5007481/) .

She is an anime star: https://animevoiceover.fandom.com/wiki/Courtney_Lomelo

She is a theatre actress of the highest caliber who has worked all over Houston, and she is the founder and producer in her own company, as well (https://www.facebook.com/gravityplayers).

She’s also one of the subjects of one of the best photos I’ve ever taken, which only happened because Courtney (and Arianna, pictured with her) is so cool. I felt like Linda McCartney after taking that photo.

Arianna Bermudez and Courtney Lomello in a limo.

She’s also one of the biggest advocates and rescuers of animals I’ve ever seen. She’s the Goddess of dog-saving.

I feel so lucky to know Courtney.

Dani Decker!

This week in “Awesome Women I Know”, I want to blog about my sister, Dani Decker! 

She’s 7 years younger than me, so I was grown long before she was, but now she’s a friend.

the two of us.. quite some time ago.

My sister has always been a person who knows her own mind, and goes for what she wants.  She’s smart, and she has a lot of sense when it comes to business, which is one of those things that isn’t in my skill set, so I admire that!

She and her husband, Tom, ran a retail energy efficiency business for a while, until they got so big their suppliers couldn’t keep up with them, so they decided to start manufacturing their own products. Soon after, their competitors started buying their products, too!  So, they  founded The Attic Depot, which they run with Tom’s brother, Tim. The Attic Depot offers solar attic ventilation and energy efficiency products to home improvement and service contractors. They are now too big for retail and have moved to wholesale, so they can supply other home improvement companies.  Dani wears many hats, serving as the Operations Manager, Human Resources,Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Customer Account Manager, and Shipping Manager. So she’s a ROCK STAR at running that business. 

Also… Solar power FTW!!! 

Ethan! She made him!

She is also the mom of my fabulous nephew, Ethan, who is a recent high school grad contemplating his future, and she has 2 happy, chubby, sweet pups, Lucky and Buster. 

us, more recently

We are often night and day about things, but I admire the things about her that are different from me. A sister is a built in forever friend, and I’m so glad I have mine!

BOSS LADY!

Sonja!

This month in Fabulous Women I know…. My high school friend, Sonja McKenzie! 

Sonja and I were in a gang of 5 girls in high school. Whatever you do, don’t judge our hair. It was the 80’s, and we were 15. It definitely could have been worse.

We were in the band, and she was a sophomore when I came in as a freshman, and she was super nice , so I lucked out having a friend that knew everyone already and knew how everything worked around there.  She graduated the year before me, and we lost touch. It was the 80’s, and there was no social media or email, so it happened

We reconnected a few years ago on social media, and she’s just as amazing now as she was then.  She is the mom of Four amazing, good looking and smart kids. She’s also worked for Dress for Success, Planned Parenthood and Urban Teens, because she’s the kind of person who wants to make the world a better place. 

Her gorgeous kids!

Nowadays she is an elected school board official, and just recently, she became the President elect of OSBA (Oregon School Board) and in 2023, she will be the first African American woman to serve as President of the Oregon School Board Association. 

I’m so proud of this lady, and so glad I still get to be her friend. She is a super hero! I hope I can see her again soon, and we can get a photo of us together now to add to this.

Arianna!

Since I haven’t blogged in a while, I thought I’d better do another FABULOUS WOMEN I KNOW Post to keep the dream alive.  Today, I want to tell the six people who read my blog about a fabulous friend of mine, Arianna Bermudez Case! 

I met Arianna in around 2012, when she did choreography for a show I was in. Shortly after, I cast her as the lead in one of our shows, CARNIVAL ROUND THE CENTRAL FIGURE. Since then, she has worked with Mildred’s Umbrella in several key acting roles, and she’s a very busy and popular actor all over Houston. She’s a fantastic actor, and she can also sing and dance, which makes her a superstar to me. 

In addition to this,she has a fancy job as an Executive assistant, which means she is super smart and organized. She’s on the board of the theatre now and proof reads all my press releases so I don’t mess up. 

Even though she is a superstar on stage and off, the most amazing thing about her is that she’s like a Disney princess. She always looks great. I have never seen her when she doesn’t look like a fashion plate. Also, we went on a group trip with some other ladies one time, and I shared a room with her in the Air B&B. I’m not lying. She wakes up in the morning looking like this: 

actual footage of Arianna in the morning.

She is an all around fabulous lady, and I just wanted to give her a shout out!! 

Christie Guidry!

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.

Christie taking Promo photos for Mildreds Umbrella’s THE DROWNING GIRLS

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. 

Kim Tobin-Lehl

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.

On the stage at 4Th Wall Theater

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. 

Kim, Luke, me and Carolyn in a play at Mildred’s Umbrella Theater (Kimberly Akimbo)

Also, she has a really nice and talented husband and the cutest dog ever. 

To learn more about her, go here: https://4thwalltheatreco.com/

For her acting Studio, go here: https://kimtobinactingstudio.com/

LYNDSAY SWEENEY ROCKS!

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!

82515906_10156552304205966_5611486286754873344_o

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. 

IMG_1450

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.

109743701_10157108036225966_5250754450199128350_n

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. 

 

396617_10150497996410966_2088153671_n

Thank you for sticking by me, Lyndsay. I love you. Happy Birthday! 

15777122_10154051747210966_5328211930576260260_o

 

Dabrina Sandifer!

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! 

She looks like a celebrity!

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. 

about to perform in a play.

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. 

her mask matches her outfit, because she literally always looks perfect.

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!  

Laura Moreno!!

I haven’t done a ‘Amazing Woman Who I Know!’ post in a while, so here’s one!

The lovely and talented Laura Moreno!!

Screenshot 2020-05-06 at 4.27.39 PM - Edited

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.

(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.

89004744_10158290616367948_9146332774674726912_n
Laura doing work (and Izzy!!!) 

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.
So.. YAY TO LAURA MORENO! 

lauraMolly

 

Patricia!

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.

10362952_10204043186986468_5463611606143068887_n (1)
The two of us a long time ago. I’m not even gonna say when, because I don’t even remember. 

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. 

68927595_10157067844206858_6494046197148286976_n (1)
When she won ‘Best Actress”

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.

37167352_10155414331825966_2577771557820563456_n
Photo by Lyndsay Sweeney

Anyway, here’s a video I did for her on her birthday if you want to see it.

Birthday Video

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.

Love you, Trish! xoxo