Most of us remember BernNadette Stanis as playing the feisty teenage daughter, Thelma Evans, on the hit series in the late 70s and early 80s, Good Times.
Remember how she and JJ battled it out to see who would get into the one bathroom first shared by the family of five? Although the Evans family did not have a lot of money and lived in the projects, they still had love and integrity. In real life, Stanis still has all the love, integrity and talent on top of her beautiful frame and spirit.
Stanis was born and raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY, and her upbringing is somewhat similar to Thelma’s character on Good Times. She is one of five children and her mother and father worked hard to ensure that they all received a good education. Stanis says they were taught that education and determination to be someone in life were key to being successful.
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She remembers her father always saying, “Now I can go and buy a big old house – I can do that, but I’m gonna take my money and invest it in my children’s education and talent.”
As a young girl, Stanis was exposed to the arts, mainly music and dance, enabling her to enroll in Julliard’s School of the Arts. Now, along with acting, the beautiful 68-year-old tapped into another gift: writing.
Her first book was Situations 101 – Relationships, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly followed by a book called, For Men Only, a book of poetry for men, which is a tribute to the men who supported and encouraged her throughout her life. On the heels of those books, she also published Situations 101 – Finances. Stanis viewed her role on Good Times as a job, not as being a star, but as doing good work.
She penned another book in which she opens her heart, The Last Night: A Caregiver’s Journey. In it, she pays tribute to her parents and talks about her relationship with them, who they were, and how they contributed to her success as well as the success of her brothers and sisters.
She speaks lovingly of her parents. “They were very, very wonderful parents,” Bernadette laughs as she recalls how good they were together even though they were opposites. “Mommy was from Louisiana – ‘a Southern little doll’ and Daddy was from the West Indies and he had that fire going!”
She wants to share that with the world as well as the unfortunate things that happened in her life like how they dealt with her father’s murder and her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Both of those events weighed heavily on Stanis and her family.
When her mom was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s she was watching Good Times with Stanis one day,