Cynthia Jones
EVENT: She's in Waiting to be Invited, a civil-rights drama at A Contemporary Theatre.

How do you like the play? "It's really nice to have a play that has so many strong women--characters that express not just the glamorous side of it all, but old-fashioned, hard-working women. We don't have a lot of role models like that these days."

Are you basing your characterization on anyone? "Yes--my older sister."

What about her? "She's one of those determined people. If someone was to tell her she couldn't do something, she'd make it her life's work. As was my mother."

Are you just as determined? "Absolutely. Plus, my husband--he's from Alabama, a little town called Alabaster, Alabama; is that white enough for you?--he grew up in this era, and he's been giving me a lot of insights. I was pretty young when the Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional. There was a man who his father worked odd jobs for, and when this man would pay the African American employees, he tore the check in half and threw it on the floor. So his workers would have to pick the check off the floor and put it back together before they could take it to the bank. This was back in the 1940s, which wasn't that long ago. At the risk of sounding naive, growing up in Seattle, I haven't experienced much overt racism, but I've felt the covert stuff. Right now, we're the only African American family on the block where I live. The neighboring ladies will stand out in the yard and talk to each other, but not to me. They'll take cookies back and forth, but they'll never bring them over to me. The whole block, all but this house."

Where do you live? "In Tacoma, actually. University Place."

Why did you move to Tacoma? "We bought a wonderful home--we've got scenic wetlands behind us, and we got it for a good price. In Seattle, we couldn't have gotten anything close to it. The commute gets me, but I think it's worth it. It's worth the serenity, once I get home, behind my own doors."

The neighborhood snubbing doesn't erode your serenity? "Not once I close my doors, no."