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She helps pick who wins in Hollywood

January 3, 2019

Filmmaker and teacher Michelle Robinson dreams of someday thanking Hollywood for a prize from her peers in the television and film industry.

But this year, Hollywood is thanking her, for serving on a committee that chose television show nominees for the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will be presented Jan. 27 in a live broadcast on both TNT and TBS.

“Getting to be one of the nominators is very random,” said the Hitchcock resident, explaining that she was one of 2,500 members of SAG-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists whose names were drawn last spring to be on the 2018 nominating panel for the group’s TV awards.

“This year happened to be my turn,” said Robinson, who teaches film acting at Houston Community College. She also directs stage productions at Clear Creek Community Theatre in Nassau Bay, including last fall’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders.”

Movie and TV nominations, which were announced last month, will be voted on by Robinson and the other 120,000-plus guild members.

As a member of the nominating committee, Robinson viewed submissions from a plethora of shows that ran on major networks, cable, premium channels and streaming services.

“They had a ton of really strong actors and actresses in all the categories this year,” she said. “The writing was strong, as was the directing and cinematography. It’s a good crowd of shows this year. I am proud to be in the union and have the chance to vote on these shows.”

Among her favorites were “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (starring Rachel Brosnahan) and “The Kominsky Method” (starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin) on Netflix; Elisabeth Moss in “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu; Antonio Banderas in “Genius: Picasso” on the National Geographic Channel; and Patricia Arquette in “Escape at Dannemora” on Showtime.

Serving on the nominating panel compelled Robinson to view a wide selection of material.

This month, she and fellow SAG-AFTRA members will be inundated with DVDs and special opportunities to screen online the group’s finalists in movie categories. “A Star is Born,” starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, leads the pack, with “The Favourite,” “Black Panther” and “Green Book” also making strong showings.

As a filmmaker herself, Robinson hopes to begin production this year of a movie, “The Bridge,” in which she will play a homeless woman. The script was written by Kevin Bui, a former Houstonian who now works as a screenwriter in Los Angeles.

The Chicago native moved to Texas with her family when she was 10 years old. She graduated from Hitchcock High School in 1978.

“An English teacher started a theater group, and that is how I got my start, when she selected me to be in a play,” she said. “I don’t know the name of it, but I played ‘the other woman.’”

Robinson earned an associate degree in music and theater at College of the Mainland before getting both bachelor and master’s degrees in humanities, specializing in acting and directing, at the University of Houston.

She was president of the Houston region of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists when the 75-year-old union merged with SAG in 2012.

Robinson is married Paul Lucas, and they have three children, ranging in age from 14 to 25.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net

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