100 Creatives: Detria Ward, Actress and Entrepreneur

Detria Ward with Dunbar 275 .jpg
Photo courtesy of Ensemble Theatre
Detria Ward in The Nacirema Society
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."

Detria Ward with Joyce 275 .jpg
Photo courtesy of Ensemble Theatre
Detria Ward with Joyce Anastasia in The Nacirema Society
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."

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

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