School of Stage & Screen
Assistant Professor - Film and Television Production
Office Address: Belk 283
B.F.A., University of North Carolina
Dramatist Guild, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Writers Guild of America West, Writers Guild of Canada, NCTC, Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA.
Brenda is a native of Asheville, North Carolina and has a BFA in theatre from the University of North Carolina, graduating with honors. While in college, she toured with the Theatre for Young People and appeared in the American College Theatre Festival's production of The Orestia at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. After college she co-founded the ACT Co., a professional theatre troupe that produced original, classical and avant-garde plays in North Carolina and other venues throughout the Southeast.
Later, Brenda moved to Los Angeles where she studied with acclaimed acting coach, Peggy Fuery at the Lost Studio and worked with Clyde Ventura at The Actor's Studio. She performed on television in the hit series "Murphy Brown" and "Married with Children" and in films directed by William Friedkin and Michael Pressman. In 1990 she turned her attention to writing and worked on such series as Big, Shades of L.A., Parker Lewis Can't Lose, L.A. Law, Christy, Walker: Texas Ranger, Xena, Warrior Princess, Bobby's World, Second Noah, Fame L.A., and Honey I Shrunk The Kids.
In 1999, she partnered with Hollis Rich to create and produce the critically acclaimed coming of age series, State of Grace. In 2002, Lilly and Rich received a Humanitas Award nomination for the pilot episode of the series. Additionally, the series received two Humanitas Award nominations, four Jewish Image Awards (including best 1/2 hour series), four Viewers Voice Awards (including best 1/2 hour series) and The Parents Television Council Award for best 1/2 hour series. Lilly and Rich were assigned as head-writers for Born Ugly – Live Happy – the Russian television series based on the tele-novella "Ugly Betty." They have written movies for Nick at Night, Oxygen Network and Basra Entertainment and developed numerous pilots.
In the fall of 1992, Brenda was commissioned to write a play based on hotel magnate, Leona Helmsley. "Leona: The Politic$ of Urban Development" which opened at the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles in March of 1993. In the spring of 1999 Brenda was commissioned by North Shore Musical Theatre to write the book for a musical based on her screenplay treatment, Bound to Die. It has since had workshops in Los Angeles by the Lehman Engle Music Theatre, Chicago through New Tuners Theatre and in Beverly, MA by North Shore. In 1998, she co-founded Occasional Theatre, Inc. dedicated to supporting the voices of contemporary playwrights and produced the premiere of Elephant Sighs, by Ed Simpson. It was named as a critic's choice by numerous papers and trades including the Los Angeles Times. Their second outing, Additional Particulars, also by Simpson, garnered L.A. Drama Critics awards. In 2006 she Executive Produced a sold-out production of Elephant Sighs at The Broach Theatre in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Stoneleaf Festival in Asheville, North Carolina. In 2007 she produced the world-premiere of Return of an Angel about the life of Thomas Wolfe which has subsequently become an annual event and Night, by Philip Gerson for the NYC International Fringe Festival.
She has taught acting, screenwriting, theatre history and literary criticism at UCLA, Brevard College, Western Carolina, UNC-Greensboro and served as a guest lecturer at UNC-School of the Arts, UNC-Asheville, and High Point University. Brenda is a member of the Dramatist Guild, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Writers Guild of America West, Writers Guild of Canada, NCTC, as well as the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. She served eight years on the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, west, and was a trustee of the Writers Guild Foundation. She has been a frequent judge for film festivals, The Emmy Awards and the Writers Guild of America Awards. She served on the Asheville Film Commission and was the director of Screenwriting Competition for the 2008 Asheville Film Festival which honored Academy Award winning writer and director Frank Pierson.