Bio Continued …
While a student at Kennedy-King , Ms. Houston was asked by her fellow students what she was majoring in. Not wanting to admit her passion for acting, she answered, “journalism”. She was then challenged to enter a playwriting contest enabling the college to win a coveted award. Accepting the challenge, Ms. Houston wrote “Two Twenty-Seven”, a play about her childhood growing up at 227 E. 48 th street, located in what is now known as Bronzeville. Not only did the play win that contest but went on to win the ANTA West, the Lorraine Hansberry and the Norman Lear Playwriting Contests. The latter took her to Los Angeles where she wrote a teleplay for the TV. series “The Jeffersons”. Marla Gibbs, one of the stars of “The Jeffersons” performed the play at her theater and received the NAACP Image award for best actress while Mrs. Houston received the NAACP Image award for playwriting. Mrs. Houston went on to become a staff writer on the “Punky Brewster” T.V. series, and in 1985 “Two Twenty-Seven” was adapted to television and became NBC’s hit television series “227”. A personal family crisis forced Ms. Houston to return to Chicago to care for her ailing mother and later her husband of more than forty years was diagnosed with dementia. While dealing with this crisis, Houston enrolled at Chicago State University and graduated in 2006 receiving a B.A. in Communication, Media Arts, and Theatre.
While a student at Chicago State University, Houston penned her first novel, “Laughing Through The Tears”, published by, “Life To Legacy” in 2013. Her book is based on the true-life experience of caring for her husband of forty-five years who was diagnosed with dementia. AARP indorsed her book by sponsoring a book signing and giving away several hundred copies of the book while presenting a distinguish panel of representatives from AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, 2 and, an esteemed doctor of geriatrics from the University of Chicago hospital. This panel elaborated on the information Mrs. Houston wrote in her book and answered the many questions from the enthusiastic audience who left both enlightened and informed about the causes and effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. She is currently writing the screenplay for her book in hope that a film will be produced to inform and enlighten millions more of the early signs of the disease and is available to aid both the caregiver and the patient.
Having received numerous awards for playwriting and community service, including an NAACP Image Award, her most prized passion is the Chicago State Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. Mrs. Houston is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Creative Writing while teaching Playwriting, Writing for Television and Writing The Screen Play, at Chicago State University. In a joint collaboration, Professor Houston has co-authored a text book with her mentor, Dr. Christine List. Professor Houston encourages all of her students, regardless of age, to follow their dreams.
In her personal life, Mrs. Houston, a product of a strong religious background, inspires many with her unwavering and unforgettable telephone greeting; “God loves you, and her favorite adage, “It isn’t over ‘til it’s over.”