The Ensemble Theatre Announces the Inclusion of Three New Board Members

The Ensemble Theatre has a history and a legacy of being one of the leading cultural institutions in the City of Houston.  Founded in 1976 by the late George W. Hawkins, The Ensemble Theatre is a  professional theatre  dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience, the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, and holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house.   The Ensemble Theatre’s growth and success contributes to the quality of it’s Board of Directors and their collective dedication to ensuring that The Ensemble Theatre remains a valuable part of not only African American, but American history for generations to come.

Some of the most well known and most respected members of the Greater Houston community have served on The Ensemble Theatre’s Board of Directors over the years, including the late Mrs. Audrey H. Lawson, who (alongside her husband Reverend William A. Lawson) founded the historic Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and who is also credited with leading the financial campaign for The Ensemble Theatre to own its facility.  Continuing the tradition of high-quality leadership, The Ensemble Theatre has included three (3) new Board members; Melanie Lawson, Micheal Helm, and Dr. Dorie Gilbert.

Ms. Melanie Lawson is best known for her service as a television news anchor on ABC Channel 13 in Houston, TX.  She is an extremely accomplished and well-known member of the Houston community; serving on multiple boards, including SHAPE Community Center, The Houston Ballet, the Rothko Chapel, Asia Society, Houston, and the Houston Museum of African American Culture. Lawson is a member of  Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Houston chapter of the Links Incorporated, and the Houston Association of Black Journalists. She is a proud member of the legendary Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, founded by her parents, William and Audrey Lawson.

Mr. Micheal J. Helm has served as the Chief Customer & Strategy Officer for Martin Foods.  Mr. Helm has established himself as a leader in the business world, best known for developing talent, managing large-scale projects and creating an environment of growth and profit.  Mr. Helm formerly served as Board President for The Ensemble Theatre, he has served on several boards including Center For Houston’s Future, Children at Risk, DaCamera and The Salvation Army.

Dorie J. Gilbert, Ph.D. is the Dean of the Marvin D. and June Samuel Brailsford College of Arts and Sciences at Prairie View A&M University. Before joining PVAMU in 2019, she spent 20 years as a professor and director of international programs at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, where she now holds an emerita faculty position. Dr. Gilbert serves on the national board of the Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences and is the founder of the Council of Historically Black Colleges of Arts & Sciences. Gilbert is an accomplished educator and administrative leader who has cultivated a career of service and academic excellence, evidenced by the student communities that she serves.




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October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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