Schmengie, Inc. is dedicated to producing material that integrates the human experience through the lens of marginalized communities. The majority of people we employ must be from those communities. The stories we tell must feature those communities.
Our commitment is to a joyful, safe, radically inclusionary, creative environment where all voices are heard, including those who may challenge us and our beliefs.
We encompass the words of Marcus Aurelius – “Observe constantly that all things take place by change and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things like them.”
In 1976, the 200th anniversary of the USA, Alexandra Billings and Chrisanne Blankenship met in a Drama Club meeting at Schaumburg High School. Chrisanne, perched atop a cold radiator, was staring at her, wondering at the crazy person sitting on the floor, when there were perfectly good chairs to sit on.
And under a desk to boot.
From that inauspicious beginning, Alex and Chrisanne have, in some way, been involved in the business of entertainment. Chrisanne formed her own theatre production company and became both a producer and theater director for many award-winning theatres. Alex has been acting since the invention of sand, and has appeared in musical theater, a few Greek tragedies, and an occasional circus. Having made music together since High School, under the desk, they have composed two original musicals, written songs for Alex’s one women show “Before I Disappear” (which played off Broadway at The Lamb Theater), and worked as director and actor in several plays, hailed by critics and loved by Chicago audiences. The music in their life has infiltrated the music in their art, as Chrisanne has also directed Alex’s cabaret shows that have toured across the States, ending in New York at the uber-fancy Feinstein’s in Alex’s cabaret show “I’m Still Here…Still”.
After having had a love affair of both artistic expression and spiritual freedom, they married in 1996 in a theatre, witnessed by 150 of their closest friends. The theater has always been a sacred place and a place of inclusion and joyful noise for them both, and so they came together and so they have stayed; artistically and romantically.
Since moving to Southern California in 2006 Alex continued her acting career at Warner Brothers, Disney and Amazon appearing in various Television and Streaming shows. She made Television history as one of the first TransWomen to play a Trans character on Television in Romy and Michelle- Behind The Velvet Rope for Disney . She won accolades for her groundbreaking performance as Davina in The Golden Globe, Emmy Award and Peabody Award winning Amazon show Transparent and had reoccurring roles in Goliath, The Connors, Never Have I Ever and Diary of a Female President. She made her Broadway debut as Waxy Bush in Richard Bean’s dark comedy: The Nap and in 2020 became the first out TransWoman to play Madame Morrible in the Broadway production of Wicked.
Chrisanne left her day job and began directing in Los Angeles. Her advocacy work branched out into her need to march for Black Lives Matter, for Trans Rights, and for animal rights, human rights, and all those in need whose voices are silenced by the patriarchy and those who encourage them. She began designing homemade cards specifically made for Queer and marginalized communities. These cards, sold only online, sell out faster than she can make them. Her art became her voice, and as she continued to search for new creative portals, Alex began a similar journey into the center of a road, paved by history and solidified by a new generation.
During this amazingly creative time, Chrisanne and Alex decided to form their own production company. Schmengie Inc (named after a nonsense word Alex uses to define everything) came into being on February 5th, 2018. In 2020, Schmengie, along with The Lavender Effect, co-produced the first ever Live Zoom Pride Parade featuring the likes of Lily Tomlin, Judith Light, Audrey McDonald and Betty Buckley. Their first commercial production was a Social Media commercial for Sylvania Lightbulbs/LEDVANCE appearing in October of 2020. Suddenly a world of promoting stories of marginalized communities opened. Dazzled by the possibility of lifting up these communities , Alex and Chrisanne began gathering a small group of likeminded people encouraging them to use their creative voices to explore the stories of humans too often silenced. Diversity and inclusion began to inform project after project, becoming Schmengie’s mantra.
Chrisanne used the full-length mirror in her office to list projects coming to and developed by Schmengie. Writing in the center of her reflection, she is the analyzer and the linear thinker, and yet, as she organizes, she dreams and she manifests, writing on a clear space that is the literal reflection of what she hopes and what she believes. Alex dreams big and gathers quickly. As they stand side by side, she has found a partner in life who lifts her up and breathes life into the abstract nature of her being.
There are now many projects on the mirror behind Chrisanne’s desk and both are writing furiously, trying to keep up with the dreams Alex dreams and the graphs Chrisanne creates. You will find some of those stories on this site’s pages.
We invite you to explore those projects as well as the dream projects of the future. Since the moment of any meeting is graced with foreverness, we have met here, in this space, for a reason. You have been drawn here in order that we might come together and share the story of who you are. That’s the foundation of Schmengie: You and Your Story. We hope you will join us in the joy of storytelling and embracing those stories rarely told.
Speak loud; there are Angels waiting, some sitting atop a radiator and some beneath a desk. They need you to breathe life into a story only half begun.
Remember….you are made of stardust and because that is, anything is possible.