“My mom became a photographer and that is how I got into photography. I remember spinning around in a little greet dress and riding my bike really fast because my mom was doing a stop action class. When I was little, I dreamed of changing the world and thought photography was a way to do that.
I didn’t like being a kid or growing up in Grand Bay. It is very conservative and I felt different from the kids I went to school with. When I was a teenager, I lived with my aunt and uncle for six months in Baton Rouge and went to a diverse high school and I loved it. That was the only time I was ever happy at school. I became open-minded through books. I read all of the time and my parents punished me by taking books away from me. I loved Nancy Drew, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables. Anything with strong women characters.
Both sets of my grandparents were divorced and both grandmothers had to struggle hard to make it for themselves. They went into extreme poverty and it took them a long time to get out. My parents almost divorced when I was a kid and my mom was so scared. I remember thinking I am never going to be worried about how I am going to take care of myself. I didn’t want to need anyone. I get my free thinking from my dad. He taught me women can do anything men can do. He made me help him work on cars and projects.
I want to teach girls and women to think for themselves and stand up for what they think is right. It is how I raise my daughter and where I give back. I went to a women’s leadership conference when I lived in Los Angeles and I met a great network of women who were determined to help me. So many doors opened and learned how to become engaged in the city and government. I hope that is what Focus Women’s Conference becomes with the power of women to help each other in Mobile. The underlying theme this year is believe in yourself. We have a great team and I think we are creating a movement of women empowering each other and focusing on what we agree on because we are completely nonpartisan.
The power of women supporting each other is incredible and I think we can change the world. I am always thinking about ways we can do that. I want to have a magazine based off of Focus and would love to have 2000 women a year coming to Mobile for the conference. I want to help get more women and candidates that support women’s issues elected. If I ever make a million dollars, I open a homeless shelter for homeless girls and teach them life skills and help them get on their feet. I have a hard time sleeping at night because I am thinking 24/7. Moving to California taught me that you can do anything, you just have to be willing to do the work. If you get a good team, you can make anything happen.
I was living in LA and came back to Mobile for two months to do a documentary on Ms. Venus, a drag queen who is an icon for the gay community. I was amazed by her and did a dinner theater with her, I also met Shawn during that time and moved back to Mobile to be with him.
It has been good to be in Mobile and doing the work I love and trying to make a difference. We have amazing women here who can come together and make this a better place to live. I want to be a part of that.”