Best Actress (2004)
For years we've watched Lulu Ward dazzle Dallas theater audiences by disappearing so convincingly into characters that she's almost unrecognizable. Like the twin divas (one gorgeous, one homely) in Pegasus Theatre's black-and-white comedy Cross Stage Right: Die! Or the three parts she played in Cloud Nine at the Bath House. She was Medea in Orgasmo Adulto Escapes From the Zoo. A slatternly crack whore in The Abandoned Reservoir. A jealous mistress raging in the afterlife in Ground Zero's 10:10. And she took on a dozen characters, including a 6-year-old, a hippie teen and an elderly Irish maid, in Contemporary Theatre's The Dining Room. Getting good at the acting thing meant giving it up for a few years, says Ward, 45. "I left, gained some weight, got a little older, and it made a difference. I felt like I owned my own talent after that. It was healthy for me," she says. A self-described former "pageant queen," Ward went through college on a Junior Miss scholarship. In the works now: a one-woman show called Texanese Confessions, based on stories about her parents. Mom Yoko is Japanese. Ward's late father was a "redneck steel guitar player who hung out with Willie Nelson." Ward has been married for five years to musician Michael Beall and offstage is an ardent animal rescuer who tends to four dogs and six cats. Little Lulu, we love you-lu.