Longtime Houston actress Detria Ward was still a teenager when George Hawkins, the late founder of the Ensemble Theatre, pronounced her a "natural." She went on to study theater at Texas Southern University and after graduating, performed in local productions, including a few shows with Stages Repertory Theatre. She also continued her relationship with the Ensemble, acting in several shows there over the last 20+ years. She's been in Lotto: Experience the Dream, Cuttin' Up and The Waiting Room.
She was most recently seen as the elegant Grace, matriarch of an upper-class African-American family in the 1960s in Pearl Cleage's comedy of manners The Nacirema Society. When faced with a scandal that could tarnish her family name and the memory of her late husband, Grace enlists the help of her friend Katherine Green (played by Joyce Anastasia) to pay off a bumbling blackmailer. All the while, she's determined to keep her granddaughter's cotillion on track as the highlight of the social season.
What She Does: Ward has had a variety of "day jobs," working for several years as program manager for KTSU 90.9 FM, a position she left to join Matthew Knowles's Music World Entertainment organization as general manager at the launching of Beyoncé's solo career. Now she's back at Texas Southern University, her alma mater, as the program director for the school's continuing education division. But no matter what her 9-to-5 gig is, Ward says that first and foremost, she is an actress. "In my heart, I'm an actress. When people ask me what I do, I tell them, 'Well, I work...' But if I could do nothing but get up every day and go to rehearsals and performances, that's what I'd do."
Why She Likes It: There are several aspects of performing that Ward enjoys. She likes seeing a project from the very beginning (a script) to the very end (the last encore). "At the end of rehearsals, when we finally have all the set in place and all the costumes done, it's amazing to look back and say, 'Did we really come from there to this?' It's always a great feeling knowing how far we've brought the show."
She goes on to say, "I also like the fact that I can absorb a character. It's weird, and it's hard for me to describe. It's not the applause; it's getting on the stage and being able to have taken someone's work and portray a character, a whole person. In Cuttin' Up, I played seven or eight different characters and the challenge for me was to make each one clearly different from the others."
What Inspires Her: "Personally, my faith in God inspires me, that keeps me going." Ward finds that each character she plays has inspired her in different ways. "What inspired me with Grace [from Nacirema Society] was that she was genuine. She seemed a tough character, but she actually was very affected by [the rumor] that her husband had had an affair with her maid. She was real and had all the emotions and responses that a real woman in those situations would have."
If Not This, Then What: "Actually, I don't even want to imagine my life without acting, it just means so much to me. But if I had to, if I was forced, I would have to do something with entertainment."
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If Not Here, Then Where: "In the old days, it was New York, it was L.A. and it still is, don't misunderstand me, but these days, there are some other hubs. I've been hearing a lot of buzz about Atlanta and I'm looking forward to taking a trip there real soon. And honestly, if one more person tells me about Tyler Perry!" she laughs. "People tell me all the time, 'You should be working with Tyler Perry, he has to come see you!' And I always say, 'Well, could you call him and tell him?' I have a friend in Atlanta and he's always telling me about the theater scene that they have, the concerts and shows, so I can certainly see Atlanta as some place I would like to explore. But Houston is just so much a home to me, I'd have to figure out a way to have this still be home."
What's Next: "I'll never stop acting, but I have a few other projects," Ward tells us. She's launched a new venture called Loving Life Entertainment and Travel. It's designed to allow her to do a wide variety of things, from arranging travel to booking talent to planning events. "It's very open-ended. One day, I could be organizing a whole group that wants to see a show on Broadway and another day dealing with just two people who don't want to deal with all the particulars of their honeymoon. It's a way for me to stay in entertainment, to be creative and still have time to act. My uncle has been in the travel business for 20 years and he's taken me under his wing."
More Creatives for 2012 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Justin Cronin, book author Mark Ivy, actor Lauren Luna, painter and shoe designer Sarah Cortez, writer Kent Dorn, drawer, painter, artist Lillian Warren, painter Carl Lindahl, folklorist, UH professor Sutapa Ghosh, film producer and Indian Film Festival of Houston organizer Tom Stell, actor, writer, director Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder Oliver Halkowich, dancer and performer Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician Matthew Detrick, classical musician Travis Ammons, filmmaker Florence Garvey, actress Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist JoDee Engle, dancer David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor Jessica Janes, actress and musician Dennis Draper, actor and director Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist Adriana Soto, jewelry designer Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof Patrick Turk, visual artist Elizabeth Keel, playwright Bob Martin, designer Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer Jeremy Wells, painter George Brock, theater teacher Radu Runcanu, painter Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker Philip Hayes, actor Patrick Palmer, painter Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer John Tyson, actor Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music Laura Burlton, photographer David Peck, fashion designer Rebecca Udden, theater director Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer Paul Fredric, author John Sparagana, photographer Damon Smith, musician and visual artist Geoff Winningham, photographer Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor Katya Horner, photographer Johnathan Felton, artist Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer Carol Simmons, hair stylist Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet Greg Carter, director Kenn McLaughlin, theater director Justin Whitney, musician Antone Pham, tattoo artist Susie Silbert, crafts Lauralee Capelo, hair designer Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director J.J. Johnston, theater director Mary Margaret Hansen, artist Richard Tallent, photographer Viswa Subbaraman, opera director Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist Sonja Roesch, gallery owner Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor Sandy Ewen, musician Camella Clements, puppeteer Wade Wilson, gallery owner Magid Salmi, photographer Carl Williams, playwright