Tiffany Vanek had never been in a play when she tried out for her first San Jacinto College Central Campus Theatre production four years ago. Now, she has been in five productions and doesn’t see stopping for any reason.

“I originally tried out for the theatre’s production of ‘Spamalot’ as a bonding experience with my daughter,” Vanek said. “We both got parts in the play, but she was unable to take hers due to a conflict. I  thought, ‘Well, I might as well see how this goes.’ And the rest is history.”

Vanek, a lifelong Houston-area resident, has been a stay-at-home mom for the past 21 years caring for her children who now range in age from 15 to 26. 

“It was intimidating getting up in front of all these people who were trained or attending classes for acting,” Vanek said. “I never took a class or tried out for anything like this before. It didn’t matter to them–everyone was very welcoming.”

The San Jacinto College Central Theatre is led by Jerry Ivins, professor of theatre and film, and gives community members the opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment.

“We are welcoming to everyone,” said Ivins. “My goal is to make this program not only a success but a safe space where no one ever feels like they are being judged or they are out of place.”

It was this attitude and encouragement that helped Vanek with her first starring role.

“In ‘August: Osage County, ’ I was very nervous about the role,” Vanek said. “I had a ton of lines to memorize, and I had to be on stage 80 percent of the time. I struggle with anxiety and memory problems, but I really surprised myself with my performance.”

Vanek plans on continuing to audition for future productions and encourages others to do the same. 

“I think everyone should absolutely audition,” Vanek said. “The experience is fun, and it can be a character-building moment.”

Melissa Trevizo

To learn more about the San Jacinto College Central Theatre, visit or call 281-542-2039.