March 28, 1962 |
Inglewood, California, U.S.
|Known for||first trans woman to have played a transgender character on television|
|Partner(s)||Chrisanne Blankenship (m. 1995)|
Billings' father, Robert Billings, was a music teacher at Los Angeles Harbor College and the musical director for the L. A. Civic Light Opera House, which influenced her interest in theater. She assisted, working backstage in the shadow of such stars as Carol Burnett (Once Upon a Mattress), and Yul Brynner (The King and I). She also appeared in Jesus Christ Superstar and The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd.
In the early 1980s, Billings worked under the stage name Shante at the famed Baton Show Lounge in Chicago, Illinois. Winning a series of beauty contests, she was named Miss Wisconsin, Miss New York, Miss Chicago, Miss Illinois, and Miss Florida. She also served as a judge of the Miss Continental pageant in 2000, and 2001.
Most of Billings' professional work has been in Chicago theaters, most notably The Bailiwick Theater, Light Opera Works, Court Theatre, and the Tony Award winning Steppenwolf Theatre. She has collaborated on plays with such notable authors as Larry Kramer, Tina Landau, and Jamie Pachino. She has received one Joseph Jefferson Award, and 5 After Dark Awards for her work in Chicago Theater. Her one woman autobiographical show has toured to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and off Broadway.
She has taught Viewpoints at the Steppenwolf Summer School since 2002, as well as Louis University, The University of Chicago, Illinois University, for the Illinois Theatre Convention, at Act One Studios, and various Master classes and workshops around the Chicago area. Currently, she teaches alongside Steppenwolf company members Tom Irwin and Jeff Perry at the Steppenwolf School West in Los Angeles California. She is also currently teaching and earning her Master's in theater at California State University, Long Beach.
Billings is also a professional singer who performs in theaters and nightclubs throughout the United States. She recorded her second CD, The Story Goes On, in 2003, which was produced by Lampkin Music and directed by Russ Long. Her first CD "Being Alive" was up for Grammy consideration. She was a recipient of the New York MAC Hanson Award for Cabaret Artist of the Year in 2004.
Billings lives in Hollywood, California with her wife Chrisanne. They were married in a commitment ceremony in Chicago on December 4, 1995. Billings was chosen as the Grand Marshall for the Pride Parade in Chicago, Illinois on June 28, 2009.
- Anderson-Minshall, Jacob (13 December 2007). "A Twisted Sister". San Francisco Bay Times. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- "ALEXANDRA BILLINGS Consummate Actress and Cabaret Singer". AlexandraBillings.com. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- "Alexandra Billings named Grand Marshal for Chicago Pride Parade". 30 May 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- Townsend, John (June 17, 2011). "Transgender Television Groundbreaker Plays the Loring". Lavender. Retrieved 21 August 2011.