4
| Stage |

Bernadette Stanis (a.k.a. Thelma in Good Times) Plays a Pastor's Wife

^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Most people remember her as Thelma, the daughter in the mid- to-late '70s show Good Times who played off her onscreen brother J.J. (actor Jimmie Walker ) and his dy-no-mite phrases. But when Bernadette Stanis comes to Houston at the end of the month, it will be to play a wife and mother in a gospel stageplay at Bayou Music Center.

"It expresses what goes on behind the pulpit. It's this pastor who's trying to save his church, " says Stanis (who has, over time, also spelled her first name as Bern Nadette and BernNadette and discarded and resumed her last name.)

Stanis says the play speaks not only to black audiences but to anyone involved in church, particularly in these difficult economic times. "When members aren't paying like they used to and the church is suffering a little."

She decided to join the cast of this production because of the late David T. Payton, the producer/director who also wrote Behind the Pulpit with Annette Campbell.

The actress, who also sings but not in this production, grew up Roman Catholic and later became a Baptist after her brother became a minister in that denomination.

Her character in this play, the pastor's wife Deborah, has been pouring her own money into his church, Stanis says. "Her husband is not noticing her or the family and is really breaking that whole unit down," she says.

Stanis says she began acting in community productions when she was about 12 years old. "I was in a beauty pageant when I was a young teenager and a manager came over to my mother and said, 'We're looking for a teenage girl." She ended up auditioning for Norman Lear and won the spot that 1,500 teenagers across the country vied for.

Five years after Good Times closed in 1979, Stanis says, she went to Juilliard and went on and did off-Broadway plays.

Stanis, who paints and writes poetry as well as books on relationships, says the one thing she'd like to get back to is dancing -- specifically a turn on Dancing with the Stars.

So in memory of former times and present-day dreams, here's a YouTube video still in much demand today:

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.