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Renaissance woman

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In March, Felicia Sabartinelli and co-star Scott Pollak of Montrose performed her short play, "The Light & Dark of Matter," to a sold out crowd at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in New York City. The play has also been selected for the Wa

Actress, artist, photographer, poet, writer ... it's hard to decide where to start when featuring Felicia Sabartinelli.

By day, she's the volunteer coordinator for HopeWest, an "amazing organization" that gives her the flexibility to pursue her passions.

Those passions stem from a young age, when Felicia took dance classes with Linda Dysart and found herself on a stage for the first time.

In middle and high school, she didn't miss a theater production, but she really began to shine in speech and debate.

"When I think about who I am today -- my drive and being a working professional in acting -- I credit it to what I learned in speech and debate from my coach, Jennifer LaRue Roth. She was amazing."

By the time she graduated from Delta High School in 2002, Felicia knew she wanted to pursue a career in speech communication and media. She aspired to be an actor and a writer.

Determined to get out of Delta and pursue her dreams on the East Coast, she moved to Providence, R.I. She later returned to Colorado and earned a bachelor's degree from Colorado State University. But the bright lights of New York City beckoned, and she worked there for several years.

Wherever she lived, Felicia said she always held on to the "Delta County attitude" passed on by her parents and grandparents.

"When you grow up here, you develop a lot of independence," she said. "You learn to be compassionate; you learn the power of a community and I'm really grateful for that."

Nowhere else did she find the kind of genuine relationships that she values.

As she approached the age of 30, Felicia realized she was ready to come home.

"I moved home just because I wanted to be home. I had no idea what I would do, but I had faith I would end up where I was supposed to."

She returned to Delta on Thanksgiving 2013 and in January was hired by HopeWest.

One day she learned that the magazine publisher Hearst was looking for new writers, and specifically someone to share their story about miscarriage. Felicia had experienced the painful loss of two babies, followed by the disintegration of her marriage.

"I knew I had a story to share, so I submitted an article."

Within 24 hours, she heard back from the editors from Hearst, who loved the piece and wanted to publish it on Good Housekeeping's website.

"It happened so fast I almost didn't have time to process it," Felicia said. She hadn't told many people about her very private experience, but found it cathartic to put her feelings into words.

Immediately, readers reached out and began sharing their own stories. "I felt I had connected with a whole community around the world that felt like me. We believe we have unique experiences, but once we talk about them and share them, we connect with others."

In a more lighthearted vein, Felicia wrote a "rant" titled, "I hate my teeth."

"Part of me knows that my teeth make me unique. They give me character and separate me from the masses. But I still struggle with them," she wrote.

"I love that our society is starting to redefine beauty in terms of weight and height, but when will we do the same for teeth? I want to see more women like me -- with imperfect teeth -- in movies, TV commercials, and print campaigns."

The article was picked up by Cosmopolitan. As an actor, Felicia said she's always been conscious about her teeth and she said it was "eye-opening" to see how many people shared the same concern about our standards of beauty.

Finally, Felicia was getting paid to write -- something she'd been doing since she was a young girl.

"My mom has been telling me since I was little you're a writer, you're a writer.

"Okay, you're right," I told her. "I'm a writer."

Her articles, fueled by real emotion and life experiences, have been featured online and in print with Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Dr. Oz's The Good Life, Country Living, Women's Day, USA Today, Huff Post, Elephant Journal, Thirty on Tap, The Things and in Colorado Journeys.

Then Felicia's creative side kicked in and she wrote a short play titled "The Light & Dark of Matter."

She came up with the drama after seeing a call from the Denver Center, looking for submissions from Colorado playwrights. She's still waiting to hear from the Denver Center, but her play was selected for the Manhattan Repertory Theatre's Short Play Series in New York City in March, and the WOAF (Watermelon One-Act Festival) in Maryland in June.

In Maryland, Felicia and co-star Scott will be competing against 15 other one-acts in several categories, including Best Overall Script, Audience Choice, Production/Director, Ensemble and Performers.

Through competitions, Felicia says playwrights can get the attention of publishing companies and potentially come away with cash prizes.

In "The Light & Dark of Matter," Felicia is not only the playwright; she's also one of the two actors on stage. She plays a social worker who pays a visit to a prison inmate, and they make quite an impact on one another.

The play premiered at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre March 23-24 to a sold out crowd.

To raise money for the trip to the Maryland festival in June, Felicia and Scott will present "The Light & Dark of Matter" at the Paradise Theatre in Paonia at noon Saturday, May 19.

"There's a big twist in the play, so I don't say too much because I don't want to give anything away, but you'll laugh and you'll cry," she said.

Felicia is also excited to see one of her poems, "Human," in the first edition of The Laurel Review - Fearsome Critters: A Millennial Arts Journal, which was published this month and is available through Amazon.

While she does most of her writing on a laptop, she prefers an old manual typewriter for her poetry. "There's something nostalgic about my old Corona that really gets me in the zone," she said.

As an actress, Felicia has appeared in a variety of plays, films, TV shows and commercials. Through the Big Fish Talent Agency in Denver, she's also worked as a production assistant.

As an artist, she works primarily with alcohol ink. Photography is a passion she combines with a love of travel, but she also submits photos with many of her articles.

In January, she was honored to be selected to speak at the first TEDx event in Grand Junction. TED talks cover a wide range of topics under the slogan "ideas worth spreading," and are generally found online at www.ted.com.

A TEDx event like that held in Grand Junction is the local version of the TED experience.

More than 100 speakers applied for the event, and just 12 were chosen. Felicia was the first presenter, with a 12-minute talk titled "Embrace Your Humility to Expand Your Humanity."

A global experience that's found a voice locally is a concept that resonates with Felicia.

"There's something amazing about the period of time we live in," she said. "You can live anywhere in the world and still achieve your dreams. When I was 17 I had this belief I couldn't be anything if I lived in Delta. I thought I would end up in farming or construction like my family. I felt like I had to live in a city to achieve anything, but now I realize I've had more success living in Delta than I did living in the cities. I found myself more coming back home.

"Now I'm doing exactly that I thought I would do -- I'm just doing it in my own way."

As a freelance writer, Felicia has had articles published online and in print.
Felicia played Kate Clinton in Magic Circle’s production of “Never Too Late.” Felicia said she would love to see Delta have a theater company of its own.
Felicia comes from a creative family that’s also got a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
While a student at CSU, Felicia was chosen for the cast of “Imaginary Invalid” at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins.
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