Actress/Playwright Tina Lifford Brings “The Circle” to Chicago


The Evanston native discusses her sense of spirituality and the ideas behind her play, The Circle.



You may know Tina Lifford for her role as Renee Trussell on NBC’s Parenthood, but did you know the actress is also a playwright, motivational speaker and CEO/creative director of her own company? The Evanston native chats with Managing Editor Carrie Williams about her spiritual journey through life and to the stage.

How has growing up in Evanston shaped your life? Evanston lives in my memory as a great model for the feeling of ‘community.’ My parents and their friends modeled the fun and support available in community. They were very social, not socialites, but down home people who valued family and friendships over all else. More often than not we kids were a welcomed given at many of the adult social gathering. They were truly a family affair. That sense of community extended to our neighborhood. Neighbors looked out for one another. In fact we left our doors opened in the daytime and unlocked at night.

How did studying at the Agape International Spiritual Center with Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith help you pursue your passion in spiritual psychology? I knew Rev. Michael as a friend long before he became an ordained minister and opened the doors to Agape. It was clear even in those early days that he had an extraordinary relationship with God. I remember saying to him once wistfully, ‘Michael, I want to have the relationship with God that you do.’ Without skipping a beat, his response, ‘Then you will.’ His faith was a great model for me, and his vision of community was not unlike the safe environment I grew up in. I wanted to do my part in creating communities where people could grow into the best that they can be.

When did you start Waking Up Fabulous and why? I’m an old soul. I say this because as a child I had wisdom far beyond my years. Social proof of this came in the form of many people – even adults – seeking my counsel about challenges in their lives. I considered it an honor to be sought out and trusted in this way. I wanted to be responsible in my counsel, so I took many workshops and counseling programs to grow myself as a counselor.

During my second year practicum in the Spiritual Psychology Master’s Program offered at the University of Santa Monica, I had an experience that identified my life’s mission: I was in a trio. The instructions were for each person to spend 14 minutes sharing where they were in their relationship with ‘Self.’ I just happened to be positioned to be the last person to speak.

As my trio partners spoke of themselves, their words were full of self-judgment, impatience with themselves and feeling not good enough. I felt the opposite. I’d been investing time and attention in my self-care for years at that point. As I listened to them I felt fear grab me. I was afraid that, when my turn to share came and I shared my relationship with myself, my self-love might sound like a judgment of them. I was so afraid of alienating these ladies and possibly seeming inauthentic that I actually toyed with the idea of lying and sharing old feelings I’d successfully worked through and out grown.

I did what I always do when uncertain and at an important choice point, I turned within to my higher self and said, ‘Please lead me in the direction that is best for all.’ Before I knew it I was sharing authentically about my self-love and deep self-appreciation. As I shared, tears ran down the cheeks of both women.

In our debrief/feedback section of the exercise, both ladies in essence were touched by my self-care. One said, ‘Thank you for showing me what self-acceptance can feel like.’ In that moment, the idea of Waking Up Fabulous was born. I knew there were thousands of women ­­– and extraordinary men – waiting to take the journey to their own deep and profound self-acceptance. They simply needed a place where they could feel safe and be seen/heard. Waking Up Fabulous exists to be that place for people who desire to wake up to a new and fulfilling sense of self and dare to create a life they love.

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About Carrie Williams

Carrie Williams is TCW's managing/digital editor. She manages day-to-day editorial operations of the monthly print publication, website and social media outlets, contributes to a variety of feature articles and directs a team of interns, freelance writers and bloggers. In early 2013, she led the redesign of of TCW's brand strategy. Her blog, "Carrie On," is a blog of reflection and discovery, discussing how to push through life when you’re handed one too many curveballs. And finally, Ms. Williams is also executive director of the TCW Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit supporting underfunded women's and children's organizations.