Shondrella Avery: Actress and Sickle Cell Disease Advocate: My Journey from Stand-up Comic to Producer

Shondrella Averyby Telishia Berry

As a child, Shondrella Avery made sure everyone she encountered knew about her dreams and goals. “I am going to be a singing star!” she exclaimed. Somehow, her parents knew that she would be someone special–that’s why they gave her such a boisterous name. Inspired by a street name at Disneyland, her parents came up with the name ‘Shondrella.’ “My father said I was going to be like Cinderella,” she recalled, and she says she has truly had a fairytale life. “All my dreams are coming true, thank God!” she said.

Not only is Shondrella Avery an impressive actress, an illustrious comedienne, and a striving film and television producer, she is also a dedicated wife and philanthropist. She believes in service and giving back: “Service is always important. I am a service-oriented human being. Nothing I do will ever be without me giving back. Actors have to find a way to bridge the gap between the blessings of what we receive and those who are disenfranchised.”
Although she may have gotten a Hollywood upgrade, don’t get it twisted; above all, Shondrella Avery is a woman of God who is not afraid to tell the world where all her blessings come from. “Why should I not tell people that God is the Author and Finisher of my life?”

Humble Beginnings
Born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles, Shondrella is the oldest of ten biological siblings and over 200 hundred children her parents helped through the foster care system. “My mother said they were all my brothers and sisters, although many were of different nationalities.” She attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and has a theater degree. Growing up in the inner-city, Shondrella couldn’t help but see the deprivation and lack among those in the community but she felt that being from the inner-city doesn’t mean you are of the inner-city.
“Being from South Central afforded me the opportunity to see both sides of the equation and deal with people from all walks of life.”
While pursuing her acting career, Shondrella followed the advice of her father and worked a day job she could be proud of. My dad told me I needed a “proper job” with some health insurance and other benefits. I worked many jobs, including The Hilton Hotel Corporation as a manager. The license plate on my mini Mercedes-Benz read “A Rising Star,” just as it did on my first car, a money green Ford Escort, because I still believed in my dreams and what God had put in me.”

Shondrella AveryWhile working in Corporate America, Shondrella managed shows at four comedy clubs to help increase her own brand as a comedienne. Her guest comedians included J.B Smoove, Alex Thomas, Royal Watkins. When I read for the movie “Trippin,” starring Guy Torry, I went to the audition in a business suit and a briefcase, and the director thought it was part of the act. I told them that I had just come from work. I went in and met the director and I improvised. Shortly after, I got a call from producer Yvette Lee Bowser for a role on her show, “For Your Love,” starring Holly Robinson-Peete. I had to make a decision to go full-time as an actress or keep working. The insurance and 401K plan made me really think about it, but I was ready to go full-time pursuing my dreams. When roles weren’t coming as fast as she hoped, she learned to be a script-reader for producers. Within a year, Shondrella landed the hit syndicated shows “Girls Behaving Badly, ” created by MGM President Barry Poznick and John Stevens, “One on One” and “Cuts,” both created by Eunetta T. Boone and starring Flex Alexander (Producer) and Kyla Pratt, as well as roles in the movies Napoleon Dynamite; Secret Life of Bees, DejaVu, and Our Family Wedding.
“I give God the glory. You have to remember where you came from.”

Staying Spiritually Focused
The interview I had with Shondrella was spiritually moving. I have no doubt that she will soon add “Motivational Speaker” to her list of accomplishments! I asked her how she stays so spiritually focused in Hollywood with all its distractions. “You have to be matured enough,” She said. “I really wanted to be wild, but it’s not in my DNA,” she chuckled. “I want God to use me, and that requires discipline. When I am not working, anyone who knows me will know that I will be in Bible Study at Spirit and Life Ministries being taught a work by her Bishop Stephen Hamilton. I’ve realized if I don’t stay focused, then how many people would miss an opportunity to be blessed by the spirit God put in me? A lot of us are still missing the key ingredient to what we are trying to get from God, and that’s obedience. The Scripture says that obedience is better than sacrifice. That’s in your Bible,” she laughs.

SA_450WEB (1)1A Test of Courage
“I had an audition for a movie, but it was only one line. My manager didn’t think I should go since the role was so small, but I wanted to do it.” she said. Shondrella’s one line in the movie Napoleon Dynamite truly gave her star power. “I wanted to go because it was a drama. I want people to know I am not just a comedian; I am an actor, so I courageously went in for that one line in the audition. I improved and I turned it into a dramatic scene. When I hadn’t heard from them, I thought I didn’t get it, but later found that my audition encouraged them to write more for the character and my role went from one line to three pages of dialogue. I had a sprained ankle the whole time from the audition to filming it a week later and they never knew. Afterwards, I needed surgery on my ankle because not only was it sprained, I had torn ligaments. However, I was proud of myself for pushing through.”

Sickle Cell Advocacy
For 10 years, Shondrella Avery has been a Sickle Cell Disease advocate and board member of the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California (SCDFC), which is now in their 60th year along with their Camp Crescent Moon now in its 50th year. Becoming an advocate was very dear to her since her mother and brother were affected by the disease. Sadly, James passed away from complications associated with SCD, and her mother currently lives with sickle cell.
Camp Crescent Moon provides a weeklong sleep-away camp experience for children with sickle cell disease from ages 7-14. Shondrella’s brother, James attended the camp 10 of the 17 years he was alive. A camp for teens is underway due to the rise in teen suicide.
Sickle Cell Disease was discovered in 1910, but was not declared a national health priority until 2014, when a petition was started to get 100,000 signatures in 30 days. “I needed to push this because it had already failed to be declared twice before. Being declared a national health priority means that states will have funding from the government, which equals comprehensive hospital staff, research for additional medications, nationwide treatment centers, and overall constant care.

I put this project on my back and pulled my resources and called on my celebrity friends and their celebrity friends like Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, and Khloe Kardashian who came through with amazing support to help secure the required signatures. With gratitude, The Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of America acknowledged that Shondrella was an intricate part of getting the bill signed by President Barack Obama after her mother’s birthday, July 28, 2015, and the National History Books of America chose Shondrella as an Iconic Woman for her Philanthropic efforts with getting the bill signed. Shondrella was also honored as an Iconic Women by Fendi on behalf of SCDFC for Women’s History Month.
To benefit Camp Crescent Moon, SCDFC is hosting a 60/50 Gold and Diamond Gala, celebrating 60 years of service and 50 years of Camp Crescent Moon, October 26, 2017 in Los Angeles.

Shondrella’s non-profit organization, Crownblu Infinity, is family supported and operated by my sister Jovan Miles, founder of and co-chaired by Dean Daniels Founder of

From Actress to Producer
IMG_45041-1Shondrella is also working on numerous film and movie projects that promote womanhood. “I am a person for the people, and about the people, and I am really about empowerment for women. I want to push women to the front as much as I can in my work.” Shondrella collaborated with singer, writer, & CEO Marques Houston and director, writer & founder of Footage Films, Chris Stokes to form a production team which has released six movies in two years (thus far.) The team’s upcoming movie, “Til Death Do Us Part” starring Taye Diggs, premieres on September 29. Michael (Stephen Bishop) and Madison (Annie Alonzeh) had planned to spend the rest of their lives together until Michael’s controlling ways spoiled their perfect marriage.
Please support this movie! See the trailer here:

Final words of encouragement
Shondrella Avery is proof that if you believe in your dreams, you must strive to make them happen and never give up. She defines a courageous woman as one who has tenacity, consistency, and an unwavering belief that her goals will be achieved. Shondrella says if you really want something you must push through your soul. Pushing through and getting the victory is what proves you are courageous.

Telishia Berry is Publisher of Courageous Woman Magazine.

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