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Jennifer Brown-Thomas

When some people are faced with adversity, they crumble. They’re unable to pick up the pieces and move on. Jennifer Brown-Thomas isn’t one of those people. During a period of just a few weeks in 2010, Jennifer lost both of her great-grandmothers, her husband’s grandfather passed away, her dog died and she had a miscarriage.
That March, Jennifer, who grew up in Richland Hills, decided to channel her grief into writing. But she didn’t just journal; she wrote a screenplay. “It can’t be that hard,” she told herself. “People do it all the time.” The screenplay came together in the space of three weeks, and the movie Blissful Lies, which explores the bonds of five best friends, started filming in September 2010 – all while Jennifer was attending Texas Christian University for advertising and public relations.
The 26-year-old jumped into the movie biz with no experience or connections. It was a trial by fire. A producer didn’t fulfill his obligations, and scheduling shots was difficult. With the help of her family and some industry guides, including Dallas-based director of photography Robert Tullier, Jennifer got through it. Her mom/local agent, Teenia Brown, secured the funding for Blissful Lies, and her dad Tim saved the day on more than one occasion. During the filming of a night bar scene, Tim climbed onto a hotel rooftop in the rain to fashion a tarp over a skylight so the shot would be perfect. Bringing even more family into the fold, Jennifer shot part of the film in her aunt’s house.
Jennifer graduated from TCU in May 2011, not long after she gave birth to her now 2-year-old daughter Kinsley. She had planned to continue on to law school, but the biz kept calling. A year after graduation, she signed with Sterling & Ross Publishers and penned a book based on the movie’s screenplay. “Be prepared to fail and push your limits,” she says of her journey into the unknown. “If not, you’re not growing. Get out there and do it.”
Blissful Lies premiered this winter at the AMC Palace 9 in downtown Fort Worth. The red carpet evening included the screening and an after-party. “Seeing it all put together and seeing your words on the screen, it was surreal,” Jennifer says. “It was really cool to hear people laugh when they were supposed to laugh.”
You can find Blissful Lies on DVD. And later this summer, look for her second book, Vindictive Grounds, along with a book tour; a movie is in the works too. This time around, Jennifer says she’s much smarter about the movie-making process, and she’ll apply that experience to everything from lining up shots to hiring a producer.
This Fort Worth mom isn’t stopping with movies and books. She and Fanitsa Limberis, wardrobe stylist for Blissful Lies, are launching LBT Enterprises, which plans to debut a fragrance and a line of kids’ clothes, Kinsley Kouture. Jennifer says the clothing will be mid-price-range fashion for up to size 5. “I know what’s functional and what’s practical,” she says of her experience dressing a toddler on a daily basis. She hopes the fragrance will come out in August, while the clothing line is projected for next year.
Jennifer is often asked how she balances motherhood with moviemaking. “My kid is my first priority, but you want to continue to work and provide for your kid so they can have a better life,” she says. “You know your kid needs you. I just figure it out as I go along.”
Sometimes figuring things out isn’t easy, especially when her husband, Cody, is working on an oil rig in Colorado for two-week stints. The pair stay in constant communication. When spotty cell service gets in the way of a phone date, they text. “When Kinsley was really sick a few months ago and needed constant attention, I think that’s the only time I’ve gone more than a day without talking to him,” Jennifer says. When Cody is home, it’s for a two-week, work-free span, which makes quality family time a regular event. Jennifer makes sure dad and daughter have one-on-one time, and she and her husband, who’ve been together since middle school, get in dinner and movie dates too.
Between Cody’s work schedule and her own career, Jennifer has created a system that works for her. She does writing and PR interviews between 10pm and 6am and while her daughter is at a twice-weekly Mother’s Day Out program. Cody’s mom also spends time with Kinsley once a week. Mom and daughter can often be found at Starbucks (Kinsley’s fond of cake pops), the playground or at home coloring. Jennifer says one of their most precious times is first thing in the morning when they snuggle in her bed and watch the TV show Little Bear. “Everything I do,” she says, “is because of her.”