Andrea Purnell, Communications and Artistic Director at UMSL’s Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH), has won the prestigious Emerging Artist Award in the 2013 Grand Center Visionary Awards competition.  Andrea is an actress, writer, director and stage manager. Her acting credits include theater, commercials, industrial films, and movies. Among her writing credits is the play, “Depression, Whose Disease Is It Anyway,” which she produced for the stage as part of a performing arts program designed to match the actor and the mental health professional in addressing mental illness.

Andrea is a native of St. Louis, Missouri having also lived in Los Angeles, California where she worked in theater. While in Los Angeles, Andrea stage managed for the world famous Groundlings Theater and worked as a costumer for NAACP Award-winning playwright, David E. Talbert.  Andrea has performed with the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the Ira Aldridge Repertory Players, and most recently, as Roxanne in St. Louis Shakespeare Company’s Cyrano De Bergerac.  Andrea is most proud of her performance in Lyon, France with La’HorsDe where she depicted an American citizen from Pruitt Igoe. Andrea was featured in the award winning film "Pennies for The Boatman,” directed by UMSL’s Niyi Coker based on a play by Mario Farewell, and was a cast member in the Ghana, West Africa staging of the same play.

Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Fontbonne University and is currently pursuing a certification in sign language with an emphasis in deaf theater. Currently, Andrea Purnell is the Communications and Artistic Director at the MIMH. On behalf of the MIMH, she uses her background in the arts to educate the community on matters related to mental health.

Andrea epitomizes the spirit of this award as an emerging artist who has demonstrated multifaceted talent in acting, writing, directing, stage-managing in theater, film, and educational settings. The vast range of her interests and sheer level of her energy promises a bright future for her and the community she very much loves. In recent years, she has extended her performance repertoire by using arts to help people suffering from mental illness. She has excellent potential as an emerging artist to affect the profession materially in a significant way.  

About the Grand Center Visionary Awards (award categories and past honorees)