Edit Current Bio
UCB is written collaboratively by you and our community of volunteers. Please edit and add contents by clicking on the add and edit links to the right of the content

Norma Jean Thomas

  • Basic Info
  • Attachments
  • Relations
  • Organizations
  • Accomplishments
  • Schools
  • Employers
While sitting in the choir section just in front of her elementary school stage, watching her big sister, Jobbie, participate in the sixth grade play, realizing that the overhead projector being pushed around the stage was supposed to be a movie camera, Norma recalls saying to her 10-year old self, "That's the worst acting in the world; I can do better than that because I'm going to be a movie star."Ã?â??Ã? Seven years later, her deeply guarded, unspoken dream found her enrolling herself, without her parents' knowledge, in M. C. Williams Magnet School of Communications, to be cast in the high school one act play, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, as Lorraine Hansberry herself. This experience changed her life. Though she still dared not say it aloud for fear of ridicule or being made fun of, this experience awakened her to the artist within, an awakening that would never allow her to rest, that would give birth to a true uncrowned community builder.
A few years out of University of Houston, with a degree in Theatre and English Education, enjoying a dual career as Performing Artist and Arts Educator, SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card in hand, sights on the bright lights of Hollywood, Norma J. Thomas decided that if she was to have the full career she desired, she would have to write the plays and produce the films worthy of her talent, which depict African American women as they are, not as Hollywood perceives them. So, upon completing stints in Chicago and Youngstown, Ohio where she choreographed a full stage version of Ain't Misbehavin' and performed in the play Split Second, she returned to her native Houston and began her own self-designed curriculum of film study, and returned to the public school classroom. While teaching English, Speech, and Drama, she founded SumAct, a summer theatre program for children and youth which employed college students and culminated each summer with a full musical production such as Norma's original production Nokie. Out of SumAct grew the Speech Choir of Houston, a tour group of youth performers, Scape Productions and projects like Inter-Generational Theatre which brought children and elders together in the Arts.
Thus, began a life of service to youth and the community. As a public school teacher, plagued daily by the inadequacy of the public classroom to meet the needs of the total child, she partnered with Angela F. CeZar and chartered SCAPE, School of Cultural Arts & Personal Enrichment, Africentric Umbrella Home School. SCAPE opened in Houston's Acres Homes community and sixty plus students were home schooled over a four year period, formally graduating one, Norma's own daughter, Kam (Ishaaqa) Thomas, a Howard University BA graduate, Texas Southern University MPA grad, Ph. D. candidate, Social Studies teacher, and mother of two. While the doors of SCAPE closed in 1998, its mission continued through work with community youth programs, in local churches, at youth and women's conferences, wherever there was need for artistic expression and inspiration.
Her home became a revolving door to parents seeking academic assistance for their children, high school grads seeking college guidance, young adults dropping by to say, "Do you remember me? Where is your school? I need to put my kids in your school."Ã?â??Ã? Ever striving to forge her own path in the professional world of stage and film production, ever engaged in and dedicated to her self-designed curriculum of film study, which included reading numerous texts, attending workshops, seminars, and film conferences, like Dov S.S. Simens 2-day Film School, Darin Scott Seminar, Rice University Summer Media Institute(s), the HBFF Screenwriting Finalist Workshop, and others, Norma partnered with Angela F. CeZar to form French Creole Productions, www.frenchcreoleproductions.com , a stage and film production company, to support her efforts. FCP, sometimes in partnership with Scape Productions, has undertaken stage and film ventures such as the original works of Norma J. Thomas: the PSA, Ghetto Brick Road; short film, Harvest Moon; musical stage productions Church Anniversary and Church Ladies. Church Ladies, a Houston success, gave way to the concept of Cooperative Fundraising. Through Cooperative Fundraising, FCP mounts a production and allows groups, organizations, churches to sell tickets to the production and retain 50% of funds raised.
Additional writing credits include three stage shorts, By the Waters of Babylon and Tappin' On My Last Nerve, produced by Soul Rep Theatre Company in Dallas, Texas, and The Get Away. Screenplay, Blessed Be The Ties That Bind, was a finalist in the Hollywood Black Film Festival Screenwriting Competition, and Am I My Sister's Keeper?, film short, was produced by Three Hats Productions. Other completed screenplays include Zero Down and H Place. The music video, Do Something, produced and directed by Norma for the neo-soul group, Asida Soul, premiered in Houston, Feb. 2009, for HIV/AIDS awareness. In addition to using her work in the Arts as a tool of service, Norma Thomas, a true uncrowned community builder, was instrumental in formalizing the M. C. Williams Alumni Association which creates programs, provides funding, and rallies the community in support of M. C. Williams Middle School, Houston, TX.
She works with the Coalition for School Improvement supporting all schools in Houston's Acres Homes community. In 2010, Norma called together African American Theatre Educators throughout the city to address the dire state of Fine Arts in public schools and the bleak future of the Arts in the African American community, founding the Black Theatre Educator's Caucus. She also serves on the Board of People Outreach Ministry which has the rebuilding of Haitian schools at the core of its Mission and Purpose. Norma is author of the children's book series Bibi's Girls, inspired by her grand niece and grand daughter for whom there was, at Christmas, no doll, no t-shirt, no bracelet, no book, no DVD, nothing to be found bearing the image of a beautiful, smart, proud, active little girl who looked like them.
Finally, those twenty odd years ago, as Norma heard the call to seek the highest expression of herself, she heard, also, the call to follow her own spiritual truth and she found herself in the pews of Shrine of the Black Madonna #10, and would, ultimately, find a way to offer her gifts in service through the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church. She has staged at least 15 full stage productions, published the Torchlight quarterly magazine, instituted Shrine Media, produced promotional videos and the documentary, Restoration, The Shrine 10 Impact Continues. Most recently, this grandmother of two, Kamiliyah and Leelah, spearheaded the Training Center Restoration Project which saw its renaming to the Shrine Center for Youth Development. She is a member of the Shrine #10 Leadership Council and facilitator of the youth groups YTG2.0 and College Cadre.
Norma holds membership with the Screen Actors' Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Texas Educational Theatre Association, the TETA Adjudicators' Organization, and the Texas Motion Picture Alliance. She also participates regularly in WIFT (Women in Film & Television, Houston) and SWAMP (Southwest Alternate Media Project) activities. Norma resides with partner since 1991, Angela (Mayasa) CeZar, and is a Program Specialist for the Houston Independent School District.