The Renaissance Woman: Sandra Velasquez

"We are every woman, conquering daily challenges..."

You might call Atlanta's Sandra Velasquez a renaissance woman. She has so many facets to her talent that it’s hard to keep up. And she’s good at all of them. It’s one thing to just dabble and have cursory knowledge in a few vocations, but Sandra is the real deal.

This native of Trinidad and Tobago is a playwright, model, singer, minister, fashion designer, fashion consultant and the founder of Hope Transitional Housing. She is also a mother and a woman of God. Sandra has always had a creative spirit and loves the fact that she can express her art in a variety of mediums. From design to fashion show production to stage plays. “I’ve always had these interests and motivations inside me from a child. I was able to explore some of these things in Trinidad and participated in plays, talent shows and fashion shows but I always wanted more, to do it bigger and to control the show to bring forth my own vision.” Sandra got immersed in the fashion industry as a model and spent time working in Europe, living in Belgium for 12 years. Upon returning to the states in 2000, Sandra eventually settled in Atlanta, GA.

Sandra comes from a family of ministers. Her grandparents were ministers, her deceased dad and her mom… ministers, one of her sisters is a minister and Sandra was also called to the ministry more than 30 years ago. “I do a lot of speaking engagements and address divine healing, prosperity and I love to see people commit to Christ and come into the fold.”

Sandra has been writing plays since forever and produced her first play, The Rapture, in Trinidad at age 15. In Atlanta, she has started her own production company, Velasquez Productions, to produce fashion shows and plays.

She has held the role of ‘Fashion Conductor’ for her own fashion shows and for clients like Macy’s and major fashion brands. Sandra has had vast experience writing, acting in and producing plays for over 30 years. With a team of about 20 people she is preparing for her next production Silent Cry, opening in Atlanta on August 23rd. Silent Cry is a stage play about a woman who lost her mother and grandmother to domestic violence. She finds herself in her own domestic violence drama and in a fight for her life after she reunites with an old flame. Silent Cry will be taken on a U.S. tour after its debut so it may well be coming to your city in the fall.

PBI: How did you assemble your cast for Silent Cry?

SV: “I casted our core cast here in Atlanta. As we take the play on the road we will cast other actors from the communities where the play is presented.”

PBI: Are you going to go the Tyler Perry route and produce DVDs of your shows?

SV: Yes, we will have DVDs available and we will also stream the play to other countries. I’m very excited about having this platform to spread the word about Velasquez Productions and to spread the message embedded in the play.

PBI: Being a minister, how do you manage to keep your religious commitment separate from the shadiness that always seems to cloak any aspect of the entertainment industry? Do you find that difficult?

SV: That is an EXCELLENT question. First and foremost, God is first in my life. Let that be known. When it comes to God, I don’t mix. I don’t cut corners. So every morning I get up I ask Him to guide my path. When I first started in the industry there were always people that wanted to me to entangle myself with the shadiness. However, I had to, how you say, go back to the drawing board frequently and revisit the strategy that God gave me, and always to put Him first. I am focusing on the stage plays as a visual presentation of the Word. With that, God has opened up the flood gates and I have been blessed with so many opportunities, connections and so much growth. So no, I don’t mix it and I won’t mix it I feel like God gave me the passion for the things that I want to do and by keeping Him first, He is making it possible for me to bring my plans to fruition. It’s a beautiful place that I’m in right now.

PB: So all of your plays have a message to them?

SV: Of course, they have a message of purpose. For example, I have experienced a broken marriage, I have experienced homelessness. While I didn’t grow up with domestic violence in my home, after I came out of my marriage I had some of these experiences. Part of my own story is enwrapped in Silent Cry. So for people experiencing domestic violence who ask themselves can the cycle be broken, my example says yes. The play says yes. But the only thing that can help you overcome every chain or every yoke is God. That said, I didn’t make the play churchy, I made it lifey. (Laughs)

PBI: You became a minister in Trinidad, correct? About 30 years ago?

SV: We were all raised in the church. My grandparents were ministers, my mom is a preacher and has a church in Trinidad to this day. My dad is deceased but he was also a minister and one of my sisters here in the U.S. is a minister. I was called to the ministry in Trinidad. Once I got to the states, I continued with my ministry. When my marriage dissolved, I was forced into the street and I experienced some of the lifestyle that I had counseled others on in the church. Things I had prayed over for others, were now part of MY life. With that experience, I embrace these people in a different way. Everything about my ministry changed. You can’t just pray for someone and tell them to do this, do that.. you have to walk their path to truly understand. Then you have to provide the tools for their deliverance.

PBI: Tell me about the foundation you working to establish, Hope Transitional Housing.

SV: A shelter for women and children that have experienced crisis. I feel like this came to life when I experienced my own homeless situation in Florida. Once I got on my feet and got my own apartment I felt God put it on my heart to establish some type of housing service for homeless mothers and children. I have been working to bring my plan from the drawing board to reality. I’m working out funding and looking for a building that will be used for a facility. I want to provide not only housing but a support system that puts women on a path to independence; GED courses, interview and job training; substance abuse programs. Everything that is needed to help women get on their feet. This will be a place of hope and rebuilding.

v. ray

PBI: Tell me about the foundation you working to establish, Hope Transitional Housing.

SV: A shelter for women and children that have experienced crisis. I feel like this came to life when I experienced my own homeless situation in Florida. Once I got on my feet and got my own apartment I felt God put it on my heart to establish some type of housing service for homeless mothers and children. I have been working to bring my plan from the drawing board to reality. I’m working out funding and looking for a building that will be used for a facility. I want to provide not only housing but a support system that puts women on a path to independence; GED courses, interview and job training; substance abuse programs. Everything that is needed to help women get on their feet. This will be a place of hope and rebuilding.

Sandra is clearly a driven, go getter who thrives on thriving. Her ability to multi-task is yet another talent that she possesses. She has parlayed being beautiful, talented, centered and focused on the Lord into a small empire that grows constantly. You can't help but respond to her infectious positivity.

It's great to see that she is able to tap into a strong support network in Atlanta and will take her message and talent national this fall. Please support her endeavors when she is in your neighborhood. Stay blessed Sandra!!!

#PositiveBlack #RiseShineRepeat

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