Antoinette Winstead wanted to be an actress. She grew up to perform a plethora of real-life roles. Professor Winstead teaches screenwriting. She writes novels and directs theater. She composes poetry, works as a playwright and is the program head for the drama and mass communications programs. Her students land jobs all over the country and become journalists, TV news anchors and public relations specialists.
Her life reads like a work of compelling fiction, which she’s been writing since the age of 7 or 8. “I’ve been a writer all my life,” says Winstead, a professor of Drama and Mass Communications. “I would write space adventures starring my brother. And I wrote poetry all the time. This was spurred by my mom who loves literature.”
Crafting stories was one passion. Performing was another. “I’ve always been interested in film and television and theater,” she says. “I was going to be an actress, director and writer.”
Ambition rose from the life of a world-traveler. Antoinette grew up in a military family – her father served in the Air Force – and moved from place to place: Colorado, Alabama, England, Texas. A 1983 graduate of Judson High School, Antoinette completed an associate’s degree in theater from San Antonio College, earned a bachelor’s of fine art in film and television production from New York University, a master’s of fine art in film from Columbia University and a master’s in English literature from OLLU in 1995.
Her post-graduate career seemed promising after she landed a television programming job with her godfather’s production company in Kuwait. “We were all set to go,” she says. “Then the war started.”
It’s true. The Persian Gulf War interrupted Antoinette’s television career and brought her back to San Antonio. Then life got really interesting. She attended a Writer’s Institute at OLLU, worked on a novel, began substitute teaching at Judson ISD and became an elementary school teacher. Intrigued by Antoinette’s background in athletics – she ran track and field in high school – Candlewood Elementary hired her as a P.E. coach.
“I was raised in a family that loves all sports,” she says. “My father played baseball, football and basketball and drag-raced while I was growing up. My family attended all his sporting events. I play tennis and racquetball, bowl, swim, run and try my hand at golf – when there are no witnesses.”
She coached physical education for two years. Then the writer-teacher-athlete returned to school to pursue a master’s in English literature at OLLU and took a job as drama coach at Antonian High School. Along the way, she wrote poetry, finished a novel and started teaching English and Mass Communications at OLLU. Before long, the program “fell into my lap,” she says, and Antoinette became the program head.
“My whole career has been that way,” she says. “Kind of providence and serendipity.”
Former students are grateful for the providential turn in the professor’s career. Karen Grace (BA Psychology 2000) learned under Winstead and became a reporter and weekend anchor at KENS-5. Amanda Brown (BA Communication Arts 2009) studied under Winstead and became a reporter, producer and news anchor at KAVU-TV in Victoria.
As much as she loves to teach (introduction to film is a favorite), the professor remains a writer at heart. Antoinette is a published poet. Fifteen of her plays have been performed on stage. And she’s making the final rewrites of a completed novel, “Between Heaven and Hell.”
“It’s a psychological thriller,” she says. “It deals with the antichrist coming back.”
The girl who grew up writing science fiction and poetry has found success in another genre. “I’m known as a playwright,” she says. “That started probably 12 years ago. Anything I can write is my passion. But I really enjoy writing plays. One was just read in Alaska. I go there in the summers and have play readings. It’s really cool.”