100 Creatives: Jennifer Decker

What she does: Jennifer Decker got her start as a local actress and in 2001, she teamed up with playwright John Harvey to create Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company. These days, she keeps busy teaching morning classes in English at Houston Community College and spending her afternoons and evenings as Mildred's Umbrella's artistic director. Her responsibilities at the theater include directing, producing, reading scripts, marketing, researching for grant money and being active in rehearsals.

The works performed by Mildred's Umbrella, a name taken from a Gertrude Stein poem, are often described as edgy, avant garde and sometimes surreal. The company places a premium on original local work and collaboration among all the arts. The company has several world and regional premieres to its name and a Texas tour under its belt.

Why she likes it: Decker relishes being engaged in the theater, and her strongest passion is for acting, which she started at a very young age.

"You live vicariously as a character you wouldn't be in real life," she says.

What inspires her: Her influences can be credited to seeing the amazing works of different actors. Even though she is a seasoned actress, she still takes acting classes to stay fresh and to allow her to cultivate connections with other actors. She also says that quirky scripts keep her inspired

If not this, then what? Decker has held several corporate type desk jobs she says left her feeling unfulfilled. If she were not involved in the theater industry, she could see herself as a teacher. Teaching is something she finds rewarding and that keeps her inspired.

"Anything that doesn't dampen creativity," Decker says.

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