“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen
The first time I remember being transformed by the power of art and storytelling was when I was nine years old. I was cast as ‘Annie’ in a production of my small Texas town’s local community theatre, playing the beloved orphan title character that was famous for being courageous, independent, and strong. Coincidentally, I was playing this role at a time in my young life when I was dealing with my own childhood trauma and feeling like I personally possessed none of the characteristics of the young woman I was portraying on stage. But every day, stepping into the shoes of this young girl that was able to persevere and triumph over her own pain and difficult circumstances caused me to realize that that same strength also existed within myself.
It opened my eyes to the powerful and transformative magic that can occur when a person expands themselves by stepping into another character’s shoes, and how life can change by lessons and truths learned through stories. Sometimes it takes being someone else for a period of time to realize the untapped magnitudes of yourself. Sometimes it takes giving yourself permission to be someone different for a while, to learn that you can change. This experience and revelation truly changed my world, and I have been telling stories and performing ever since.
Since my childhood days in theatre productions in small town Texas, my passion has expanded beyond the art form of merely crafting my own performances and evolved to include writing and filmmaking as well. I’ve always had a passion for language and cinema, but it took me becoming an adult to realize that I also have the capacity to share my own personal stories, and to create worlds like the ones that I’m mesmerized by onscreen. I, too, have a voice and vision to share that expands beyond the vessel of myself. Moving from the south to the city of Los Angeles and learning more about who I am and want to be (thank you, therapy) has caused me to find and nurture those new avenues and begin to embrace the expansion of my artistry beyond just acting.
From my stories, to sketches, to short films, to digital series and pilots, the intention behind my body of work could be summarized with the words of the brilliant Nora Ephron, “Everything is copy.” I truly believe that. I write and create from what I know, and if I’m being completely honest, I write a lot for myself- for the little girl that I was, that I still carry with me every day. I write and create projects for her, ones that align in some way with the stories that I remember because they changed my life, and those that I know if I had seen, they would have helped me tremendously. I write stories that reflect the way that I see this world: with all its beauty, wonder, pain, heartbreak, and the inescapable humor of how seriously we take it all. I write projects that I would love to watch. And I have found that the more authentic I am with the stories that I convey, the more universal they become, and the more people are compelled to feel a connection to my work. This has sparked so many wonderful collaborations and friendships with other artists.
I’ve co-created an independent production company (Bob Billiams Productions) with my creative and real-life partner Micah Sudduth, and with it we have created multiple series and shorts, with many future projects in development. We were fortunate enough to have our first web series, TALK, be promoted as the popular women’s website HelloGiggle’s first featured scripted content. Last year, my pitch for my semi-autobiographical short film, Sexy, exploring the humor and taboos of female sexuality (inspired by my ‘abstinence only’ conservative upbringing) won the SheKnows Media pitch contest. Bob Billiams Productions has just completed post-production on our most ambitious project to date, HOME, a new digital dramedy series based our experience of being a millennial married couple from the south, trying to find a sense of home in a city that feels nothing like it. Home will be premiering at film festivals in 2018.
I'm currently working and collaborating with the prolific screenwriter and fellow Texan Matt Cook of Hazard Pay Productions (known for Patriots Day, Triple 9) as the head researcher for all tv series and feature film projects in development, while continuing to develop series and features of my own. My stories have also been featured in Moth StorySlam and GrandSlam competitions. I’m still learning and evolving my artistry in brand new ways, and I will keep this website updated so that you can continue to join me on my journey. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I would love to hear from you about yours.
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