Most people know me as an actress, TV Host, Miss Ohio USA, and lawyer. Although I am truly grateful to have had the opportunities I received, my biggest accomplishments have never been written about in press or on social media. Behind the façade is a woman who has had to overcome many adversities in her life since childhood. I told myself that no matter what hardships I had experienced; I would never wear my struggles on my sleeve. When I walked into a room, my head would be held high; there would be love in my heart and optimism in my spirit. I would never allow myself to encompass a victim mentality. I am a Lady who presents herself with class and dignity but most importantly I am also a Warrior who has fought tirelessly to live a life full of love, hope and faith.
The Lady Warrior Shirt was inspired by all the fascinating women in my life who are not at all the one-dimensional image perpetuated by the media. Some of these women include the young girls I have the pleasure of coaching; the resilient women at the Downtown Women’s Center I interact with; the boss women in the entertainment industry; the strong, Southern women in my family and my Miss USA sisters. Many have endured much more than anyone would ever know because of how high they hold their heads, the warmth in their hearts and the swag in their steps.
This concept became even clearer for me when I received the opportunity to play the role of Nana in the film “My Father, Die”, written and directed by Sean Brosnan and produced by Pierce Brosnan, Sanja Banic and Orian Williams. Nana is the heroine of this gritty, action thriller set in the South. Sean Brosnan created a beautiful female character with many layers. Nana is a nurturing mother and soulful yet, empowered, resilient and a fighter. I reached out to one of my Miss USA sisters Carrie Mantha (Miss Florida USA 2003) who embodies the Lady Warrior spirit and we began brainstorming. She connected me with Frank Denbow who took the time to understand my vision and what I felt was important to share. We collaborated to create the design of the Lady Warrior Shirt.
It was a natural for me to want to donate a portion of proceeds to the Downtown Women’s Center, which has always been close to my heart. Several years ago, I completed the necessary volunteer training to allow me to work closely with the women. Since then, I have donated resources and my time, spending a few Christmases including the most recent with the women. My most rewarding experiences have been during my work shifts, which gave me the opportunity to interact with the women in an intimate way and create a special bond. Every woman has a story and every story reveals the true feminine strength all women possess. The Downtown Women’s Center is so important because it is more than a shelter; they provide permanent supportive housing and a safe and healthy community fostering dignity, respect, and personal stability with the goal of supporting the women until they feel strong again to be independent. http://www.downtownwomenscenter.org
“In every warrior there is a lady. In every lady there is a warrior.”