When I decided to retire from my first dream job as a flight attendant after nearly thirty years of service, I knew it was time to put up those wings and come down out of the friendly skies and pursue my real passion. I am so happy to say that I am enjoying my second act as an actress, voice over artist, on-camera talent, playwright and now director.
Born here in the beautiful city of St. Louis to James C. Tate and Clara L. Tate along with five other siblings. Though they were here on earth for a short period of time, dad 48 and mom 50 they, always spoke positively over me. My dad always sang to me and my mom taught me how to cook,be a kind person and a strong women. Along with assigning me to be the designated baker for the family she would always say, “ you’re going to college and you’re going to be somebody,” and indeed I was the first in my family to attend college. She also taught me how to make the best homemade sweet potato pie and peach cobbler.
I always felt special around them. Out of all the kids in the family my mother would awaken me early and take me downtown with her to pay bills and then we’d stop at Famous Bar restaurant and have lunch. She’d order this delicious shrimp sandwich on cheese toast with a bowl of French Onion soup. Yummo! Because of this experience I grew to love dining out in nice places with friends.
Our parents help shape who we are and help cultivate what they see in us. During my parents separation my dad took me shopping to purchase a dress for my eighth grade graduation. Dads can be so cool sometimes and spoil their daughters. He allowed me to pick out whatever I wanted, mind you at the time I was only 13. And boy did I take advantage of the situation. Because I admired movie stars and always wanted to be one, along with being a teacher, dancer, stewardess and an all around entertainer. I chose this beautiful, yellow, long formal gown with a lovely flowered jacket. This dress was clearly designed for a women twice or triple my age, but i didn’t care. I wanted to be beautiful and glamorous like Diana Ross on my special day and boy did I look like her with my bouffant hair do.
Anyway when we got home with the dress and my mother saw it, she was furious. She screamed at my dad for buying me such a mature looking dress, but she could not return it because it was late and the stores had already closed. I sashayed into school the next day looking just like I wanted to, like a movie star! I guess it was in me even back then. These are memories I will always cherish.
My mom was still alive when I became a flight attendant and I don’t care where I went she would get so excited. Once when I was on my way to Peoria, IL, not the most exciting place, I called home and she asked were I was headed and I told her “Peoria, IL”, she says in her most excited voice, “ Ooh child!” At that time I thought, ma, that’s nothing to get excited about, but to someone who had not traveled much and who was just proud of her daughter being able to fly the friendly skies, It was indeed a big deal to her. Even though they did not get to see all that they hoped that I would become. I am so happy to say, I was able to accomplish most of it. I did eventually finish college obtaining a BA in Corporate Communication, a MA in Theatre, retired from the airlines after nearly thirty years of service, and now writing and directing plays. Although, I did not get to become a modern dancer, I feel that I get to dance each time I get on stage, in front of the camera, behind a microphone, write and direct.
I am also the founder of “Until You’ve Walked in her Shoes,” Inc., a company that was designed to impact the lives of women. Our mission is to empower, honor and educate women. Although we are not a theatre company, we are a nonprofit and 501 c-pending company doing theatre that tackle social injustices and other issues that impact women.
When I started this company over ten years ago, It was my desire to bring women together to help support and celebrate each other as opposed to criticizing and judging one another. The message I hope to convey is, until you’ve walked in another women’s shoes you have no right to talk about and judge her because you do not know what her back story is all about.
Over the past ten years we’ve put on conferences, that have drawn hundreds of women from all backgrounds. We break bread together, laugh, support and cry together. Each woman receives a goody bag and a flower to celebrate her uniqueness. There are six honorees and one of the honorees receives a sizeable donation garnered from our yearly fundraising efforts, to help her carry out her mission to serve the underserved in our community.
We are thrilled to be apart of the Stl fringe this year to tell the stories of sexual harassment/abuse survivors through the #MeToo, Her Voice Must Be Heard project. In the wake of all the recent scandals that have impacted almost every industry, we wanted to give a voice to women in our local communities, our co-workers, sisters, girlfriends and daughters.
We can no longer remain silent about this issue because too many women are dying inwardly. We must keep talking about it until a change takes place. Theatre is certainly a great platform to tell these stories and the Stl Fringe affords us the opportunity for multiple audiences to hear and see the stories unfold.