is a singer, director, award-winning actor, teacher, and columnist for Theater Bay Area Magazine. With a passion for challenging herself and her audience with socially relevant theater, Velina is committed to fostering new works on stage and screen, and to supporting those vibrant voices shaping theater and film, and that will change the world.
A veteran of the American Conservatory Theater, Velina's A.C.T credits include MACHINAL, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, and A CHRISTMAS CAROL, as well as world premieres of George Coates' RIGHT MIND, and Robert O'Hara's INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY. At A.C.T, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and elseweher Velina's real forte is helping develop new work, which shows with a sampling of her other credits, which include PEOPLE'S TEMPLE (World Premiere, Berkeley Repertory Theater), COMPANY, ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY (World Premiere, S.F. Playhouse), JOHN BROWN'S BODY (World Premiere, Denver Center Theater Company), RECIPE (World Premiere, Central Works), ROAD TO HADES (World Premiere, Shotgun Players), THE SWEETEST SWING IN BASEBALL (West Coast Premiere, Magic Theater), S'KOTIPOLA and IN THE HOUSE OF BLUES (World Premieres, Lorraine Hansberry Theater), as well numerous performances with the Eureka Theater, Theatreworks, The Willows, Thick Description, and the Oregon Cabaret Theater.
Velina is also a longtime member of the Tony and OBIE Award winning San Francisco Mime Troupe, where she has been a principal actor for two decades of world premiere musical comedies and dramas, touring throughout the United States, as well as internationally. Velina's credits with SFMT include 1600 TRANSYLVANIA AVENUE, MR. SMITH GOES TO OBSCURISTAN , VERONIQUE OF THE MOUNTIES, GODFELLAS, MAKING A KILLING, RED STATE, TOO BIG TO FAIL, POSIBILIDAD, FOR THE GREATER GOOD, and RIPPLE EFFECT, as well as performing with the Mime Troupe at the Kennedy Center, the Theater Action Festival (Belgium), the Kwa'Chon International Open Air Theater Festival (Korea), and the International Festival of Verbal Heroes (Germany.)
Velina ia a two-time winner of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critic's Circle award as Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work in S.F. Playhouse's ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY, and as Oustanding Principal Actress in the S.F. Mime Troupe's "POSIBILIDAD."
Velina's television credits include principal work on the series "TRAUMA," "NASH BRIDGES," "PARTY OF FIVE," as well as made for TV movies - the comedy "UNDER WRAPS," and the adventure Western "SHAUGHNESSY."
In addition to her on-camera, radio commercials and industrial films, Velina has also been the voice for several computer games - even the voice of "The VR Chief" of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"
On the big screen Velina was most recently seen in Gus Van Sant's Academy award winning film, "MILK," appearing with Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, and "BEE SEASON," starring Richard Gere. Velina has also had principal roles - credited, but deleted - in "PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS" (scene with Will Smith), "MAD CITY" (scene with with Dustin Hoffman), "METRO" (scene with Eddie Murphy), with Eddie Murphy, and "SNEAKERS" (scene with with Robert Redford.)
As a director Velina has also specialized in new work, directing "JOHN HENRY," for the critically acclaimed Word for Word theater, Anita Johnson's gripping and challenging one-person coming of age drama "THE PASSING," a new, vibrant adaptation of "CINDERELLA" for the African-American Shakespeare company, and Michael Gene Sullivan's award winning one person "DID ANYONE EVER TELL YOU - YOU LOOK LIKE HUEY P. NEWTON?", which performed in San Francisco, Vancouver, and New York. Velina is currently planning her next two directorial projects: Ellen Gavin's adaptation of LYSISTRATA, and co-directing George C. Wolfe's classic "THE COLORED MUSEUM."
Velina graduated Magna Cum Laude from San Francisco State University, and has a Master's Degree in Counseling. Combining that training with her skill and experience as a working actor has developed her career and life coaching service, The Business of Show Biz. She also has a monthly column of the same name in Theater Bay Area Magazine, where she shares her talent and advise with both novice and experienced actors as they strive to share their passion, becoming the brave, challenging artists they want to be.