Texans I’d Like to Meet: Comedy and Law
By: Piper Meeks, Contributor
Humor and perseverance: a winning combo? I think so. Well, at least when it comes to people I’d like to meet. This week I decided to focus on two Texans who have climbed their way to fame through hard work and determination that I think will undoubtedly lead to even bigger and better things for them.
Native Houstonian James “Jim” Parsons is a television and film actor best known for his role as Sheldon Cooper on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Parsons’ role has been said to have contributed significantly to the show’s overall success and he has received several awards for his performance, including two consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Comedy Series, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series, the Television Critics Association award for the highest individual achievements in comedy, and the National Association of Broadcasters Television Chairman’s Award for a significant breakthrough in a specific art discipline.
Parsons decided he wanted to be an actor at the young age of six after playing the role of the Kola-Kola bird in a school production of The Elephant’s Child. He participated in theater throughout high school, but was most productive during his undergraduate career at the University of Houston. He appeared in seventeen plays in three years and was a founding member of Infernal Bridegroom Productions, which gained national attention in 2002. Parsons enrolled in graduate school at the University of San Diego in 1999 and graduated in 2001. After graduation, he moved to New York where he made several television appearances and had minor roles in many movies. When he read the script for The Big Bang Theory, he was sold on the idea of portraying Sheldon Cooper, a socially awkward genius physicist. He was most intrigued by the structure of the dialogue, and he credits the writers of the script for the way they “brilliantly use those words that most of us don’t recognize to create that rhythm.” He claims this rhythm is what drew him in, as “it was the chance to dance through that dialogue and in a lot of ways still is.”
If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing Parsons in The Big Bang Theory, it may be hard to imagine him portraying anyone other than Sheldon. Sheldon’s unique quirks are so distinct that it’s almost hard to think that Parsons isn’t exactly as he portrays his character to be in real life, but Parsons has played many other roles that are very different in nature than that of his role on The Big Bang Theory. In fact in May of this year, he began appearing on Broadway as Elwood P. Dowd, a friendly, likeable drunk, in Harvey. Jim Parsons is probably one of the most talented actors to grace my television screen, which is exactly why I’d like to meet him.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Wendy Davis is a native Texan with an impressive story. At the young age of 14, Davis began working to help support her single mother and three siblings. At 19 while working two jobs to support her daughter, Davis enrolled in a paralegal program at a community college. She later transferred to Texas Christian University, where she graduated first in her class and became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. She was accepted to Harvard Law School, where she would later graduate with honors. After law school, Davis returned to Fort Worth and served nine years on the Fort Worth City Council, where she focused on economic development, transportation, and neighborhood issues. In 2008, she was elected to the Texas Senate District 10 when she defeated a longtime Republican incumbent, Kim Brimer.
Davis is most well-known as the gutsy Texas senator who challenged Governor Perry and his majority by staging a filibuster that forced a special session during the last legislative session. She was standing up for something that personally hits home for me: public education. The filibuster was an attempt to stop $5 billion in cuts to Texas public schools. Her famous filibuster was not the only accomplishment Davis made during her first term as a Texas senator, though. She fought against cuts to women’s health care, brought justice to rape victims by bringing attention to Texas’ backlog of thousands of DNA samples collected from sexual assaults in order to lock up sexual assault predators before they were able to commit more crimes, and protected the Veterans’ Assistance Fund from being used to fill budget gaps, among other things. Her first term earned her numerous awards, such as ”Champion for Children Award” from the Equity Center, the “Bold Woman Award” from Girls, Inc., “Freshman of the Year” from AARP, and “Texas Women’s Health Champion Award” from the Texas Association of OB-GYNs. Texas Monthly named her “Rookie of the Year” in 2009 and the readers of Fort Worth Weekly chose her as the “Best Servant of the People.” This year, she was listed among “12 State Legislators to Watch in 2012″ by Governing Magazine. After such a successful term, it’s not surprising that Davis was just recently reelected for another term in Texas Senate District 10.
Wendy Davis is most admirable to me because she understands the importance of higher education. She fights for every Texan to have the opportunity to further his education despite the seemingly insurmountable costs of tuition throughout the state. Having completed her college education with the help of scholarships, grants and loans, Wendy Davis can relate to students that must depend on financial aid in order to further their education. I am thankful to have a state senator that cares so much about providing opportunities for fellow Texans to succeed.
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