Velina Brown is a singer, director, award-winning actor, teacher, and columnist for Theater Bay Area Magazine. With a passion for challenging herself and her audience with socially relevant theater, Velina is committed to fostering new works on stage and screen, and to supporting those vibrant voices shaping theater and film, and that will change the world.
(For more about Velina and her husband, Michael Gene Sullivan, see the article about them in American Theatre Magazine.)
A Collective member of the Tony and OBIE award-winning (and never silent) San Francisco Mime Troupe, Velina has been a principal actor and guiding force for the world-famous company for over twenty years, touring nationally and internationally, helping create dozens of world premiere political musical dramas and comedies, each examining issues of peace, equality, or economic and social justice.
Velina received a music scholarship to San Francisco State University, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master's Degree in Counseling. Combining that training with her skill and experience as a working actor has developed her career and life coaching service, The Business of Show Biz, and has a monthly column of the same name in Theater Bay Area Magazine. Velina is a founding member of Theatre Bay Area's acclaimed ATLAS (Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success) program, and is also co-author of the recently published career development guide "ATLAS: Charting an Actor's Career Map," where she shares her talent and advise with both novice and experienced actors as they strive to share their passion, becoming the brave, challenging artists they want to be.
Velina ia a two-time winner of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critic's Circle award: Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work in S.F. Playhouse's ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY, and Oustanding Principal Actress in the S.F. Mime Troupe's "POSIBILIDAD." In 2012 Velina was honored as part of Theatre Bay Area Magazine 35th Anniversary as one of the "35 Faces" that had made significant contributions to the Bay Area theater community.
As a director Velina has also specialized in new work, directing "JOHN HENRY," for the critically acclaimed Word for Word theater, Anita Johnson's gripping and challenging one-person coming of age drama "THE PASSING," a new, vibrant adaptation of "CINDERELLA" for the African-American Shakespeare company, Michael Gene Sullivan's award-winning one person "DID ANYONE EVER TELL YOU - YOU LOOK LIKE HUEY P. NEWTON?", which performed in San Francisco, Vancouver, and New York, and Ellen McLaughlin's adaptation of LYSISTRATA George C. Wolfe's classic "THE COLORED MUSEUM" for the African-American Shakespeare Company, and several shows for Lilith Theatre Company.
Velina's SFMT credits include 1600 TRANSYLVANIA AVENUE, MR. SMITH GOES TO OBSCURISTAN, VERONIQUE OF THE MOUNTIES, GODFELLAS, MAKING A KILLING, RED STATE, TOO BIG TO FAIL, POSIBILIDAD, FOR THE GREATER GOOD, RIPPLE EFFECT, and SCHOOLED, as well as performing with the Mime Troupe at the Kennedy Center, the Theater Action Festival (Belgium), the Kwa'Chon International Open Air Theater Festival (Korea), and the International Festival of Verbal Heroes (Germany.)
She is also a veteran of the American Conservatory Theater, where her credits include MACHINAL, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, as well as world premieres of George Coates' RIGHT MIND, and Robert O'Hara's INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY. At A.C.T, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and elsewhere Velina's real forte is helping develop new work, which shows in a sampling of her other credits: PEOPLE'S TEMPLE (World Premiere, Berkeley Repertory Theater), ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY (World Premiere, S.F. Playhouse), JOHN BROWN'S BODY (World Premiere, Denver Center Theater Company), RECIPE (World Premiere, Central Works), ROAD TO HADES (World Premiere, Shotgun Players), THE SWEETEST SWING IN BASEBALL (West Coast Premiere, Magic Theater), S'KOTIPOLA (Julian Theater, US premiere) IN THE HOUSE OF BLUES (West Coast Premiere, Lorraine Hansberry Theater), as well numerous performances with the Eureka Theater, Theatreworks, The Willows, Thick Description, and the Oregon Cabaret Theater.