Cyndi Steele-Harrod has lost a lot during her 41 years: her mother to heart disease, her memory to a head injury she suffered while performing, and more recently, 86 pounds. She's also missed out on a few roles, but that's something that every actor faces.
What she's gained, though, defines her in so many ways: a supportive husband, two talented sons, countless leading and secondary roles that have stretched her acting abilities, a quick wit, a disarming sense of humor and the remarkable ability to prepare students for a life in the theater.
Steele-Harrod has lived in New York for nearly six years but she's still very much an Oklahoma girl. She returns often to give master classes, direct musicals and catch up with family and friends.
One of life's many lessons is that little of value or significance can be achieved without the help of others. Steele-Harrod says she's been lucky to have had mentors who shaped, molded and guided her to be successful, not just in her career, but also in life.
“Martha Knott was my idol and I wanted to be just like her,” Steele-Harrod said. “She raised four kids, she married the man of her dreams and she was an amazing performer. She had the perfect balance. Watching her was a master class in life.
“Tamara Long believed more in me than I believed in myself. Deep down, I knew I could do it but she made me take advantage of every situation. She always said you could sleep when you die. Tamara became my subconscious. I still hear her telling me not to settle.
“Carveth Osterhaus is my mentor and he is the reason I'm a successful teacher. Because he is such a class act, he taught me how to express what I do with grace. When I struggled with a character or an acting choice, he'd always tell me to go play. Just play. That's been my mantra since I was 18 years old. It takes away the pressure and lets you have fun.”