— By Dino Robinson

Tina Lifford final preparation before performance of "The Circle Play" in Evanston
Tina Lifford final preparation before performance of “The Circle Play” in Evanston

Hollywood, Broadway, Cannes. We know and follow the trends, the movies, and the rise to fame of dozens of actors and actresses. Many of us may even dream of making it big in the world of entertainment. Even as we eagerly watch new television series or visit the local theater, many may not have even thought that they might possible know of someone performing in front of millions. However, if you grew up on the North Shore, chances are that you were only one degree of separation from a talented actress, a published author and now, a playwright.

Tina Lifford, one of four siblings of David and Dorothy Lifford who, at one time, lived only a stone’s throw away from Evanston Township High School on Church Street.

Tina’s career in acting began early, attending both Foster and Washington Schools in Evanston. Eventually, the family moved to the west coast. It was there Tina grew into her career. Professionally, she has appeared in over 90 television shows and films and even nominated for an Ace award for best supporting actress while on Knots Landing.  She currently stars as Renee Trussell on NBC’s series, Parenthood, and as Evelyn Lancaster on VH1’s Single Ladies. Tina has played parts in shows with Jennifer Lopez, Danny Glover, Steve Martin, Bruce Willis, Sydney Poitier, Michael Caine and Clint Eastwood.

Of notable shows, you can see her performances as lead on South Central, and other shows such as CSI, Cold Case, In Plain Sight, Criminal Minds, Nip/Tuck and Heroes. Tina also portrayed the iconic Winnie Mandela in the Showtime biopic Mandela and de Klerk, as well as Mama Haze in The Temptations Story.

Tina has diversified here career to include her 15 years of experience in personal development, as an author and now, as playwright, all under her new endeavor, Waking Up Fabulous, Inc. As CEO and Creative Director, she combines her Masters in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica in 2005, and the Coaches Training Institute in 2007, She utilizes her skills to help people realize their potential. With the establishment of The Inner Fitness Project, Tina developed the 14 Practices of Inner Health and Wellness with the goal of building mental, emotional and spiritual strength.

Supporting the message of Inner Fitness, Tina wrote and produced a play entitled The Circle in 2010. The 90 minute play has been seen by more than 3500 people to date, and has been contracted by women’s organizations, sororities, and non-profits for various events. Over the last year, The Circle has played to sold-out venues around California and later took the production to Uganda. In addition, Tina has just released her first book, The Little Book of BIG LIES, consisting of 14 stories that identify unconscious everyday misconceptions that undermine personal power.

Remembering her roots in Evanston, Tina returned to her Evanston home this past February, 2013 for a very limited run of her play The Circle, at her childhood school auditorium, “I am a product of this community.” Tina said, “It is only right that I give back to it.”

Note: This article also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Suntimes, February, 2013.

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