When Laura De Anda, who received a bachelor's degree in communication and philosophy from Trinity in 1991, joined a local Toastmasters club (Voces Latinas) in Los Angeles several years back, she never dreamed of the heights that one simple step would take her.
by Donna Parker
Now this southern California author is one of eight female writers recently honored with an Imagen award for their theatrical adaptation of their upcoming book titled, 8 Ways to Say I Love My Life and Mean It!
"2009 was a big year for the 8 Ways project," says Laura, who explains that the Latina culture is what joined the authors, including Josefina Lopez, Susan Orosco, Nancy De Los Santos, Bel Hernandez Castillo, Margo De Leon, Joanna Diaz and Rita Mosqueda Marmolejo. She met most of the other women at the speaking and leadership Toastmasters club, where she presided as president from 2007 to 2008.
The book inspired the adapted theatrical monologues which debuted with a 10-day run at the Casa 0101 Theater in Los Angeles, as well as a special reprisal at the new LATC in downtown Los Angeles.
"Suddenly, our series of monologues was nominated for the Best Live Theatrical Production...and it won!" says Laura.
The Imagen Awards honor positive portrayals of the Latino culture, and winners are selected by a panel of entertainment industry executives.
Laura's journey to this new book and play was circuitous and funded primarily by her career as a print journalist for newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and the Los Angeles Times.
"Journalism will always be in my heart. I spent untold hours working on The Trinitonian in school which offered so many opportunities for aspiring writers. So many of my hopes and dreams were created at the campus paper. We had a wonderful adviser, and of course, Coleen Grissom, department of English, was a major influence for me and so many others. Her feistiness and spirit as an older woman made her the perfect role model."
Laura, who lives in San Diego, continues to work on this important project even while exploring her surroundings and new horizons, such as learning to speak Farsi. Uppermost, though, is Eight Ways...
"This project is so special because it combines the things I cherish. It combines friendships, sisterhood, and spirit by telling our true stories that help connect other women. It's all about the triumphs of the human spirit."
You may contact Laura at deandalaura [at] yahoo.com or visit http://www.facebook.com/8ways.