About the Event
TBAP’s Easter Fiesta is a social media event where the professionals of the literary, entertainment, sports and fashion industries give back to the fans that have supported them over time, by chatting with the audience that will appear on TBAP’s social media on a set date/time. For 2016, the fiesta was on TBAP’s Facebook! The professionals were drawn from the categories: authors, actors, music artists and other professionals in the Christian film industry. It ran from March 17th through 27th.
Guests of 2016
Julie Lessman (Author)
Award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie Lessman was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 17 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list. One of her most recent novels, Surprised by Love, appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014, and her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.
Cheryl McKay Price (Screenwriter & Author)
Cheryl McKay Price is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but spent a lot of her young life in North Carolina. For the past fifteen years she’s lived in Los Angeles working as a screenwriter, novelist, and a writing teacher and mentor. However, she and her husband recently moved from Big Hollywood to Atlanta, Georgia, also known as Little Hollywood.
Cheryl began writing stories and plays at five years old based on pictures on her lunchboxes. She’s been writing since. Her most notable film to date is The Ultimate Gift (starring James Garner, Abigail Breslin). Cheryl’s favorite genres are family dramas and romantic comedies. One of Cheryl’s favorite writing alliances is with Rene Gutteridge. The two partner on novelizations of Cheryl’s screenplays. (Never the Bride for Random House, Greetings from the Flipside for B&H, Love’s a Stage and O Little Town of Bethany for Redbud Press.) Cheryl is an avid scrapbooker, day-tripper, and a chocolate addict. You can read more about her on her website: www.purplepenworks.com. Watch her 2016 Easter message on TBAP’s YouTube channel here.
Rene Gutteridge (Movie Producer & Director, Screenwriter, Author)
Rene Gutteridge is the award-winning and best-selling author of twenty-four multi-genre novels and is a seasoned collaborator in both fiction and film. She has novelized six screenplays and movies, including her newest, Old Fashioned, with writer/director Rik Swartzwelder. Her romantic comedy with screenwriter Cheryl McKay, Never the Bride, won the Carol Award in 2010 for Best Women’s Fiction. Her new titles include two more novelizations with Cheryl McKay, Love’s a Stage and O Little Town of Bethany. Her seven suspense books includePossession, Misery Loves Company, Ghost Writer and Escapement.
Her indie film, the comedy SKID, was dead-Center Film Festival’s Best Oklahoma Feature Film Winner in 2015 and also won Best Oklahoma Feature at Red Dirt. She is a creative consultant on Boo, a script based on her beloved novel series, which is in development at Sodium 11 Entertainment with Andrea Nasfell (Moms’ Night Out) as screenwriter. Her novel My Life as a Doormat was adapted into a Hallmark film called Love’s Complicated which premiered in January of 2016 and scored 2.1 million viewers. She is a full-time comedy writer for The Skit Guys.
DiAnn Mills (Author)
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.
DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at http://www.diannmills.com. Watch her 2016 Easter message on TBAP’s Youtube channel here.
Michelle Griep (Author)
Michelle Griep has been writing since she discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. The realm of history is where she dreams up stories such as: THE CAPTIVE HEART, BRENTWOOD’S WARD, and A HEART DECEIVED. She blogs on the award-winning sites of Writer Off the Leash and Novel Rocket. Residing in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, she lives with her husband and neurotic dog, and in her spare time teaches writing and history at a local high school co-op. Watch her 2016 Easter message on TBAP’s YouTube channel here.
Rich Swingle (Actor & Writer)
Rich Swingle has been involved in the performing arts and applied theater full-time since 1995. Since 2010 he has performed in over 20 feature film projects. Because he’s been performing his own one-man plays for two decades, he easily jumps into character roles and is used to carrying the whole story as lead.
Kirk Fernwood (Film Critic/Blogger)
K. Victoria Chase (Author)
K. Victoria Chase enjoys writing passionately clean romance novels. She earned degrees in Criminal Justice and Diplomacy and worked as a federal law enforcement officer for several years before deciding to try her hand at writing a complete novel. Today, K. Victoria Chase is the published author of fifteen titles in romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and paranormal romance.
Victoria Chase was first published in 2012 by a small e-publishing house. In 2013, she independently released her first novel and fell in love with self-publishing. As an “indie” author, K. Victoria Chase has the freedom to work hand-in-hand with vetted industry professionals (cover artists, editors, formatters) to produce a quality product her readers will love. She also has the liberty to experiment with various marketing strategies and selling platforms to reach more readers with timeless romance stories.
Why interracial romance? K. Victoria Chase grew up reading Christian romance that featured cookie-cutter heroes and heroines. She remembers receiving one novel from her mother with a minority female heroine on the cover; they were just too hard to find on the shelves of local Christian bookstores. The church consists of a variety of individuals who look different, but all experience the same emotions. K. Victoria Chase wanted to feature relatable characters in realistic stories that everyone–not just a small segment of consumers–would enjoy reading.
*Her ultimate dream: to have both a robust career in publishing and writing for television/film (hey Hallmark, General Hospital…email me!). You can connect with her at email@example.com.
Brenda S. Anderson (Author)
Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota Chapter. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, travel, and baseball, and she loves watching movies with her family. Brenda lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, their three kids, and one sassy cat. Learn more at brendaandersonbooks.com
Heather Manning (Author)
Bestselling author,Heather Manning, is a young lady who loves to read–and write. After she won several writing competitions, her first book was professionally published and quickly became an Amazon Bestseller. She is an active member of her local ACFW chapter and lives in Kansas City, Missouri where she sees plays, devours donuts, and acts in community theatre. You can find Heather on her blog: heathermauthor.blogspot.com.
Melica Niccole (Author)
Melica Niccole was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and now resides in New Jersey. She developed a fondness of writing and creating things at an early age. Writing was a creative expressive technique that she used to talk about various subject matters such as relationships, domestic violence, friendships, and more. These subject matters were mainly expressed in the form of poetry.
After graduating from college, Melica sought to be a published author. Although Melica did not become a published author right after her undergraduate work at Otterbein, the drive and determination within her stayed the same. She has preferred performed in front of audiences at The National Black Book Festival, The Ohio State University, Inspired World NYC, Writing Wrongs Poetry, Newark Public Library, and other places around the county. Her had work finally paid off in August 2010 when she release her first book titled, “Dead Wrong.”
Melica has a Master’s Degree in Health Services and a Bachelor’s in Health Promotion and Fitness. Currently, she works with individuals with Mental Health Diagnoses and have over 10 years of work in the Human Services Field. Her activities include mentoring youth, managing a quarterly newsletter, and supporting local companies with planning and implementing effective programming. Melica love living outside the box and creating new and exciting things. She believes anything is possible with passion and determination. Watch her 2016 Easter message here!
Bill Ewing (Movie Producer & Director)
Bill Ewing – During Bill’s 15 years at Columbia Pictures, he supervised the production of more than 100 feature films, including Awakenings, A League of Their Own, My Girl, Groundhog Day, Age of Innocence, In the Line of Fire, Little Women, Fly Away Home, Air Force One, Men in Black I and II, Stuart Little I and II and The Patriot.
He started with Columbia in 1986 as a production consultant and in 1987 was named Director of Production Services, becoming part of David Puttnam’s administration. Bill remained at Columbia after David’s departure and was made Vice President of Production Administration in 1988 by new studio President Dawn Steel.
With Sony Corporation’s acquisition of Columbia, Bill was elevated to Senior Vice President of Production Administration in 1992. His final production for the studio was the first Spiderman which grossed $806 million worldwide.
Preceding Bill’s tenure at Columbia, he developed and produced Thunder Alley for Cannon Films in 1985 and The Slayer for the International Picture Show in 1981. He started his production career in the mid 1970’s with the Dino De Laurentiis production of King Kong and Sandy Howard’s production of Meteor.
He got his start in the entertainment business as an actor in numerous films and television series, including Johnny Got His Gun, The End, Little House on the Prairie and Korg 70,000 BC. And he made his directing debut on the Lifetime movie Christmas Child based on a Max Lucado book.
Bill was President of Every Tribe Entertainment from 2002 through 2009, where he served as Producer and Co-Writer of the feature film End of the Spear and Co-Executive Producer of the award-winning documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor. He then became CEO of Kingston Place Pictures through 2011. He is currently developing and producing independent film projects for LV Film Partners.
Bill resides in Los Angeles with Susie, his wife of 34 years.
Doc Benson (Movie Producer, Director & Screenwriter)
Doc Benson started out in the field of railroad management, eventually making the move to service in both ministry and media. He served for two decades as a pastor, church planter, and rural church consultant in addition to working as a news producer. Doc later went on to manage a television station, serve as an on-air talent, and produce, direct, and manage several feature films. For his work on “Seven Deadly Words”, Doc won three Best Director awards. He holds degrees in Business Administration, Transportation Logistics, and Ministry.
Rebekah Cook (Casting Director)
Rebekah Cook is a Christ-follower, actress, coach, casting director, and script supervisor. She lived in Spain for nineteen years as a missionary kid before moving stateside to pursue her passion for screen acting. She got her start apprenticing with Advent Film Group, and since 2009 has served on both cast and crew for over a dozen feature film productions. Her first lead role was as Virginia Page for In His Steps, a modern adaptation of the controversial and inspiring 19th century novel.
Participating in the casting and production process from both sides has cross-trained her skills in the industry, and enabled her to mentor other rising talent. Rebekah loves working with directors and fellow actors as they develop their characters from the script and bring them to life on the screen. Both on and off of film sets, her heartfelt calling is to be an ambassador of Christ and share God’s love with those around her.
Jody Thomae (Music Artist, Worship Leader & Author)
Jody Thomae has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, serving as worship arts ministry pastor, worship leader and creative arts director. Over the years, she has coordinated artistic involvement in church services, worship events and women’s events through dance, drama, poetry and fine arts through the North Central Ohio region. She performs, teaches, choreographs, preaches, coordinates and leads workshops in the area of creativity, spirituality and embodied prayer. She also leads worship at local seminars, retreats and women’s events.
Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and formational ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. She is particularly interested in the way in which God uses the arts to bring formational development and healing to His people. Life scriptures include Psalm 27; Isaiah 50:4-7; and Zephaniah 3:14-17.
She is a graduate of Ashland Theological Seminary and lives in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and two children.
Her book, God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You: Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within, is available through Wipf & Stock Publishers, Amazon and in Kindle format. She has also released a devotional CD entitled Song of the Beloved, which is available on iTunes and through CDBaby. She is currently writing her second book on the healing journey of the creative soul.
For more information on her ministry, her book or music visit http://www.jodythomae.com.
Juli Tapken (Actor)
Entering just her third year in the film industry, Juli Tapken has logged more than 20 IMDb credits with major roles in feature films like faith-based projects Providence, Mission Improbable, The Reins Maker, and many more. Juli is also showing up big in television with upcoming shows like 12 Masks and Think. Create. Repeat, plus multiple commercials in various markets. She began singing and acting very early as a child in Oklahoma, building to lead-roles in musical theater classics like Oklahoma, Gypsy, and The Diary of Anne Frank, which led to a professional career in Branson, Missouri, where she performed in Two From Galilee, and a long run on the musical comedy, Smoke on the Mountain. Juli Tapken is dedicated and driven to bringing her characters to life in an honest and relatable way, while being a strong asset on set. Juli also has great range, performing many different role-types, and is actively seeking even greater challenges! Visit Juli on her website, view her IMDb profile, and connect with her on twitter and her facebook page!
Katie Pavao (Actor)
Katie Pavao is an up and coming Actress, Singer, Songwriter, Director, and Playwright, who is currently based in Nashville, TN. Represented by Advantage Talent Agency, she has been acting in film/movies, and regularly auditioning for roles in Voiceover, Print Campaigns, and Commercials. Her latest projects have been the films: Providence (2016), filmed in Springfield, TN and recently released to select AMC Independent Theatres throughout the US, and Concrete Hearts (2016), filmed in Sterling, IL, outside of Chicago, and being released soon, to film festivals, and used as an educational tool for counselors, churches, and schools. Katie has also played roles in country music videos: Sandra Lynn’s, “Bar Hoppin’” and Eric Paslay’s, “High Class.” She is currently studying Gracie Jiu Jitsu’s Women Empowered (self-defense) program and training in stage combat with her husband, Zube, a martial artist. A bright and cheery, 24 years old, Katie has been in more than 36 plays and musicals, having been raised in the theatre, and has been a part of many short films, with Providence, playing cheerleader Amy Johnson, her first role in a feature film. Find out more at imdb.me/katiepavao and katiepavao.com and connect with her on Instagram @katiepavao & Twitter @katie_pavao! She is looking forward to being a part of TBAP’s Easter Fiesta! Watch her TBAP Easter message here!
Apolonia Davalos (Movie Producer, Actor & Screenwriter)
Apolonia Davalos(AEA/ WIFT-Nashville and TWIFM Member) is a film and Off-Broadway theater director and actress. She is named after APPOLLONIA, an ancient, biblical town, in Macedonia, Greece, south of Lake Bolbe, known today as Nea Apollonia. Hence, she was born with a passion for God and love of history! Her upcoming short modern-western film “Children of War” debuted through the film festival circuit in 2016. She is the Co-Writer and Co-Star of the online radio broadcast “The Baby Shug’s Show!” As an actor, her feature film credits include: “The Good Book” (on DVD), “Providence” (recently released in select AMC Theatres), “The Perfect Wedding” (on DVD), etc. In theater, she received great acclaim for the originated role of LYNN CORDERO in the Off-Broadway production of Looking for Billy Haines in Times Square (NYC). Other theater credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Metamorphoses (The Boston Actors Theater): The Crucible (Salem Theatre Company); and Sisters of the Church (Afrikan Women’s Repertory Theatre). She is further recognized as a producer, director, writer, as well as an inspiring advocate for classical Greek theater through her production company APOLONIAD Productions. Known for her hearty laugh, talent for accents, love for martial arts, and singing classic 1930’s tunes! “Apolonia Davalos is a passionate, young director dedicated to exploring the plays of Euripides. As a member of a generation used to reading no more than 140 characters at a time, her devotion to a classical poet is worthy of tremendous admiration.” – Show Business Weekly. www.Apolonia.Weebly.com. Watch her Easter message on TBAP’s YouTube channel here.
Irene Santiago (Movie Producer, Actor, Public Speaker, Voice Talent)
Ms. Irene Santiago, (High School Musical, Providence, One Tree Hill, Touched by an Angel) is a busy, working actress, voice over talent, model, public speaker, producer, blessed with a powerful training background in film, theater, television, and the voice-over industry with an impressive long list of credits with an infectious positive energy about her. Ms. Santiago has had the rare opportunity to be invited as a guest artist to the Sundance Institute Filmmakers Lab 5 separate years, to work with mentors like Oscar and Emmy winning actors/directors/writers such as, Robert Redford, the late, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Joan Darling, (M*A*S*H*, writer).
In the silent, award winning, faith based feature film, *Providence, her character , Edith Cartwright is receiving much acclaim for her portrayal of her character which transforms 40 years, and suffers a stroke. In November 2015, she and her husband, Del Baron, who are both Co – Executive Producers, of the multi-winning and nominated redemptive feature film, Adrenaline, staring John Schneider, (*Best Director – Win, *Best Score- Win *Best Foreign Film –Nom). (Ms. Santiago also acted in a supporting role), traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the FNCC film festival, to represent Team Adrenaline for the nominated category of Best Foreign Film! She is currently on location filming the feature film, The Reason, as Dr. Kelly Collins with Lou Gossett Jr. and Tatyana Ali.
Ms. Santiago volunteers her time teaching presentation and life skills, through acting, to at risk youth. “Growing up in a large, poor family wanting to be noticed and embraced for my passions, for my individuality, to aspire to go higher. I give back to give a hope to others and enact on the magic inside each child. One of my mentors told me, “Only 2 people need to believe in you Irene, you better be one of them.” She imparts this wisdom upon the students.
She grew up in small Kearns, Utah of Puerto Rican heritage and raised in a bilingual (Spanish/English), family of 8 children. She is the youngest. She and her husband, Del have 2 beautiful children and one goldfish living close to the beach in lovely Wilmington, NC.
Most importantly, Ms. Santiago feels so strongly none of this would have been possible without Christ and her Father in Heaven in her life. “I know my A.B.C.s = I Act Because of Christ.”
Sharon Wilharm (Movie Producer, Director & Screenwriter)
Sharon Wilharm never intended to be a filmmaker, but when her husband’s local history documentary morphed into a faith-based film, she found herself thrown into the role of writer, director, and lead actress. When it was over she swore she’d never do another movie because she wasn’t very good at it. But God had other plans.
Over the past 15 years Sharon and her husband Fred have produced 6 feature films, and with each one they’ve strived to raise the bar and make it better than the ones before. Their movies have won countless film festivals, are available at Christian retailers around the world and online at iTunes and other VOD outlets, and frequently air on television. Providence, their latest movie, released to theaters Valentine’s weekend as part of the AMC Independent lineup.