Shanda Renee grew up in small towns ranging from Idaho, Alabama, to Northern California. She discovered her love of acting, writing, and art at the age of twenty when she began painting murals on her walls and took her first acting class.
Shanda’s first on-camera experience started with a SAG speaking role on “Raising Helen,” directed by the legendary Garry Marshall. She was also cast in another Marshall film, “Princess Diaries 2.” Shanda began her career working with top industry professionals like Helen Mirren, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Hudson.
However, for every grand experience, there has been a tragic one. Shanda has undergone some of life’s most difficult adversities including childhood abuse, the unexpected death of her father, domestic abuse, becoming a young single mother, and most recently, a life altering injury following surgery.
Shortly after the success of her first two films, her path took her out of media, but a few years later she was cast as a co-star in an international film, “Karma,” filmed on location in India.
Shanda also built a career in photography. Taking her hobby from film photography to digital, Shanda studied under a top wedding photographer. She trained for nearly two years and launched her wedding photography business. At the same time, Shanda went into pre-production of her feature film, “Butterflies,” a true, coming-of-age story about her childhood. But both her photography and film were interrupted by yet another adversity and put to a sudden stop.
Shanda had undergone what was supposed to be a positive, routine surgery that went terribly wrong. She was sent home and left untreated, resulting in permanent nerve damage to her right upper back, neck, shoulder, and arm—an area crucial for long hours of shooting with a steady hand and carrying large, heavy amounts of camera gear. Shanda lost her professional career in photography.
Over the course of discovering the severity of her injuries, it seemed all was lost for Shanda’s creative path. But as God would only have it, He works all things out for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Shanda held onto her faith, began fighting for herself and her son, and through the torment, God began to reroute her path. Shanda began receiving visions and assignments from God. She wrote them down and waited as instructed in Habakkuk 2:2-3. This included her initiative “New Sunday New Church,” where she visited a different church every single week for 52 weeks. One year. 52 weeks. 52 churches. Shanda kept a regular blog that detailed her experiences. She also began to sing. Shanda never planned on pursuing a music career. She is terrified of live performances and considers herself an actress—not a singer. But God opened her voice and she has two recorded songs to date available on iTunes: Fallin’ and Warrior.
Shanda gives of her time any way she can, including handing out sandwiches to the homeless on Skid row in Los Angeles. She is nominated for the second year in a row for the Eagle Rare Life Award. Her nominated story and voting page can be seen here, Shanda Renee | Eagle Rare Life. In the event she is chosen winner, she will receive $50,000 for her charity. Shanda has launched the vision for Single Mom Housing Communities.
Nicknames such as Joan of Arc have been given to Shanda by those who have continued to witness her relentless spirit to fight the good fight, overcoming one battle after the next with her smile, incomparable nature to love, heightened spiritual insight, tenacity that never quits, and bold, Cherokee attitude.
Shanda is currently writing a trilogy of memoirs. Memoir 1 (her childhood): overcoming sexual abuse, growing up among domestic violence and becoming a self-destructive teenager. Memoir 2 (her 20s): escaping an abusive marriage, becoming a single mother, and falling into the desperate traps of Hollywood and the adult entertainment industry. Memoir 3 (finding faith through tragedy): following her suicide attempt, Shanda turns to God. Struck yet again with tragedy, she holds onto her new-found faith and finds that in losing everything—she gained everything.
About Shanda’s story, in her words:
My memoirs will be a look at my life born into dysfunction, abuse, sexually molested, and a self-destructing teen dealing with a haunting childhood. I was abused as a wife and became a very young mother who had to escape a volatile marriage. I fell into the traps of Hollywood, wealthy men, adult entertainment, and made every desperate attempt to get money and take care of my son. I attempted suicide. I was the victim of a surgery gone wrong by a famous surgeon in Beverly Hills. I went through legal hell, conspiracy, lawyers, doctors, permanent nerve damage, and chronic pain. And in the middle of all that, I found myself. I found God. I found love. I found forgiveness. I found hope. I found strength. I found that nothing defines who we are but the love we are created with. I have traveled the world. I have held babies dying of AIDs in Africa. I have been in terrorist attacks in India. I have dated A-list actors, and I have been on food stamps. I have held many charity events on Skid row when I, myself, have been homeless. I have walked red carpets and I have cried on floors of broken glass. My life has been a paradox of tragedy and majestic wonders! And I have only just begun. The greatest gift we have is the gift of forgiveness and the gift to forgive. Forgiveness is the ultimate key to freedom. Freedom to let go. Freedom to be made new again. Freedom to not only survive, but to live.
After I tried to kill myself, the doctor treating me in the ward asked if he released me would I try to kill myself again. I said, no. He said, does that mean you longer wish to die? I said, no, nothing has changed since three days ago. But apparently God still wants me here, because there's no way I am still alive without God doing what He did to intervene.
If I can help another person, another woman, another single mom, abuse victim, or hurting soul, it makes everything I have gone through not in vain. That is my goal for everything I do from now on . . . entertainment with a purpose and to give God all the glory. It is, after all, only by His grace, mercy and will, that I am even alive today to do any of this.