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A driving force to help others

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

If Edie Stevens isn’t helping someone make their lives better on their terms, she’s making a friend whose potential shines in her eyes. Helping has been her motivating force for as long as she can remember.

Edie Stevens

“I had dreamed about being a cop forever,” she said. “I went to Greenfield Community College. I graduated with a degree in law enforcement. I was a police officer in New Hampshire for about six years in the late ‘70s and the early ‘80s.

“I wanted a career where I was going to be able to help people, to solve mysteries, figure things out and put things back to right — to be there when you had a car accident and you needed help; to help you find something when somebody broke into your home and stole something important. That was my idea. I wanted to be in a career that helped. I have to give myself credit for helping to pave the way for future generations of women entering law enforcement.”

To protect and to serve is a powerful motivation. It may have been a bit constraining for Stevens, though. Along with her need to help, Stevens has a need to create.

“I discovered television,” Stevens said. “You could take a camera and shoot anything. It was awesome. I could create like crazy. I loved the artistic part. I ended up creating a children’s television show about reading. I produced a show called ‘Grandpa Storytime.’ Grandpa read children’s books written by local authors, or illustrated by local artists. He read them to local children. Then kids at home got to watch.

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“It was so creative and so fun, and the kids had a good time. The station got calls from people who had missed it and wanted to know if we would re-run it. I loved it. It was exciting to me because I was helping local authors, local artists, and also helping local kids learn a love for reading. We did the show as if it was at the library, which meant that kids were also learning about the library. I had lines out the door for people wanting to be on ‘Grandpa Storytime.’”

Stevens’ creative side can be traced at least as far back as high school when her brother’s idea of a prank turned out to be a gift.

“My brother signed me up for drama classes at the high school to scare me,” she said. “He thought it was funny. I actually enjoyed it. I had two or three words in ‘Sorry, Wrong Number.’ Then I had a huge part in the next play. I did all the lines and all the acting and it was awesome and it was totally fun. I got bit by the theater bug.”

Growing up on the Eastern Seaboard meant she could pursue her love of theater in a big way, and she did.

“I’d save every penny I had and hop on the bus to New York City. There was a magazine that listed all the plays that were in rehearsal and the ones that were showing. At that time, you could watch a rehearsal for a whole lot less than you could get a ticket for a production. Now you missed some stuff, but I did a lot of that. I did a lot of off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway because they were less expensive.”

It was at an Off-Off-Broadway play that she learned to see through the eyes of a director.

“They had like 15 seats in the audience,” Stevens said. “I was watching the rehearsal. The director was yelling at one particular actor, ‘What have I been telling you?’ The director turned to me and said, ‘Well, what do you think?’ It scared the bejeebers out of me because I didn’t even know he knew I was sitting out there. I told him what I thought. He turned around, pointed at the actor and said ‘See? What have I been telling you?’

“I started looking more at what the directors were doing versus what the actors were doing. I watched how different actors responded to different directors.”

Stevens has been president of Roswell Community Little Theater (RCLT) twice. It was under her leadership that the theater signed the contract to purchase the building they currently occupy. She has directed 25 plays with RCLT since moving here in 1994.

“I think you have to let the actor figure out what the person in that part would do,” she said. “The little light comes on whenever they figure it out and that’s the best part to see. Then I feel like I’ve helped them become a better actor, or become better at speaking in front of people.

“If you help somebody get over a fear of public speaking or learn that it’s OK to display a certain kind of emotion, I think that’s the best love and nurturing that you can do for anybody.”

Having worked a number of careers, from law enforcement to television production, to running her own business, Stevens has continued to educate herself and now holds an MBA. A few years ago, she discovered that she can feed her need to help through sales. Currently, she is the sales director for the Comfort Suites Hotel, and she founded the Roswell Hotel and Hospitality Association.