When I was growing up, I thought it was a typical part of every twelve year olds summer to get up at the crack of dawn and ride shotgun in dad’s truck to the job site to check on things. I would jump out of the truck and land without looking into the mushy red clay that would cover my canvas shoes and forever stain my white socks. I was happiest right there with my dad, walking the job, checking the concrete forms to be poured later that morning, listening to the men as they laughed and talked over cups of coffee and cigarettes before putting on their tool belts. This was my youth.
Today, some twenty years later, I’ve discovered just how unusual my childhood was, but also how fortunate I was in having a dad whose life and livelihood was construction. In fact, my father worked for his father’s construction company in California and would have continued to do so had he not met my mom and moved to her home state of Georgia.
Four daughters later, dad, knowingly or unknowingly, instilled in us the value of hard work and pride in creating with hands and tools things that could last a lifetime. I think back now in wonder as I recall him building every home we ever lived in.
While attending the University of South Carolina, I developed a passion for theatre. After graduation I return home to Atlanta and jumped at the chance to work in my dad’s construction company. Once again I was able to “walk the job”, smell the turned up earth, and relive the memories of my youth.
But still having the acting bug, I began taking acting classes after work. In 1995, I was accepted into the summer acting program at the Royal National Theatre in London. There I was able to immerse myself in classical theatre, voice, and movement training…I was so happy! Classes here at home led to performances and it was during one of those performances that a local agent approached me and asked to sign me as a commercial talent. Eagerly I signed on and started doing commercials on the side.
I always assumed that I would take the reins of the family business one day. Never in a million years would I have predicted that in 1997 Home & Garden Television hired me as their new co-host for Fix It Up!. Working with Pat Simpson, we shot the series for five years and was in rerun until late 2006. In 2002, Turner South contracted me to co-host Southern Home by Design, which shot for two years and created over 100 episodes in that time. In 2003, Turner Broadcast, Inc. also asked me to join their cast of The Man Made Movie as their on-screen construction expert. Shot in Seattle, host Chad Taylor and I built and laughed our way through two seasons of the show. Traveling with Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse to various cities to help promote their grand openings filled my weekend calendars from 2004 until late 2007. 2005 brought the beginning of a wonderful relationship with Fein Power Tools. Over the years, I have traveled with them promoting their incredible tool, the MultiMaster. And in the summer of 2008, Danny Lipford of Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford asked me to join his cast as host of the Best New Products segments along with helping him, Joe, and Allen make their way through some great projects. In late 2009, Steve Schultz and I wrote a “how-to” book on the basics of home repair titled Fix It In a Flash! We are very excited about it!
Today, I am staying busy with shooting for Danny and also working with The Weather Channel and The Home Depot to bring great gardening advice to viewers. My daughter, Hannah, is now in college at my old alma mater, The University of South Carolina and I couldn’t be happier! The family construction/developing business is still thriving. I’m also a licensed General Contractor for the company and my sisters still help my dad run the business. It’s still my passion. It’s construction. It’s in my blood.