Shalanda Sims is a Portland native, proud wife, and mother of three. She is a professional actress, writer, teacher, advocate, and grew up singing in the church. Some of her favorite stage/film credits include Color Purple and Dreamgirls (Portland Center Stage at The Armory), The Pirates of Penzance (Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Portland Opera), Extraordinary Measures, and Faith. Shalanda studied Theater and English at the University of Portland and Portland State University. She is the author of Night Rhythms; The Hooded Quilt Series, American Guild of Musical Artists, Actors’ Equity Association, Dramatist Guild member and has written several plays including Vanport, Redefining Alberta, and Who I Am Celebrating Me. She is the founder and director of World Stage Theatre, Black History Festival NW, loves spending time with her family, traveling, making authentic connections, supporting, and lifting up others.
Shawnte Sims is a Portland native, husband, father, and long-time government employee. He was a local barber for 25 years. In 1997, he accepted his call into the ministry becoming an ordained elder in the Church of God In Christ where he served as Youth Pastor, and Assistant Pastor. Shawnte was also a member of Heavenbound Gospel Community Choir. Shawnte traded his clippers in for a camera taking photos for theater companies, Literary Arts, The Cultural Soul Project, churches, notable musicians, and vocalists like PJ Morton, and Lalah Hathaway.
I am so happy to introduce Shalanda and Shawnte Sims to the Good 2 Know Family. I often say that they are one of my favorite couples and every time that I see them either individually, as a couple or with their family, it is always a time of joy. Shalanda and Shawnte let their lights shine in the work that they do and even in their informal conversations. I am so grateful for the gift of their time and that they entrusted me to share some of their life’s journey with all of you. Be blessed! ~Darcell
When and where did y’all meet?
Shalanda: High School. We lived a few blocks from each other and didn’t know it. My sister went to Benson and Shawnte went to Benson. When we met we said hi and bye.
Shawnte: She made sure to say bye real quick.
Shalanda: People kept saying that I should meet him, but when we met I was thinking “He ain’t all that.”
What was your first date?
Shalanda: We always hung out with a group. I’m not sure if we had a first date. After we met that time in high school, we didn’t see each other until college. A friend I went to high school with invited me to church and Shawnte was there. Then it was like, I remember him.
When did you know she was the one?
Shawnte: Out of High school I knew that I wanted to be married early and start a family. I saw Shalanda in The Wiz five times. I took my grandparents and then I took my parents. I told them, “You got to see the Dorothy girl.” She was on a different path than other people. That was important to me. I wanted to hang out with her all the time.
When did you know he was the one?
Shalanda: The day I went to church and saw him. I told my mom that he was the one. My mom was very supportive. Sometimes my mom was the only one supporting our marriage because we married so young.
How did you propose?
Shawnte: That’s the only part that I regretted. I didn’t do anything romantic. We went ring shopping and bought the ring. If I had to do it again, I would have asked her to marry me.
What dating advice would you give your younger self?
Shalanda: Just slow down. Wait for the right one. Don’t waste your time on the wrong ones. Instead of telling yourself he’s nice to me or he’s cute, don’t ignore the warning signs.
Shawnte: Pay attention to the small things. People put on their best foot and try to impress each other. Pay attention to the flags. I saw this three months ago. Why didn’t I pay attention? That’s why Shalanda and I clicked. This is what I was hoping for. She would say whatever. No sugar coating. I had a lot of female friends and I would try to give them advice and try to keep them from getting hurt.
What is some marriage advice you would give?
Shawnte: Don’t take each other for granted. You might pay attention to the one thing she didn’t do, but not the 28 things that she did do.
Shalanda: We had a rule that we didn’t go to bed angry. We had to solve it before we went to sleep.
Shawnte: We didn’t go to sleep.
Shalanda: We had to solve it.
Shawnte: We don’t know if tomorrow is coming. We stayed up a lot of nights in our little apartment. Also, pay attention to each other and listen to each other. There are a lot of things that are said that are unspoken. You could ignore it or push it to the side, but it will only damage things.
Shalanda: That goes along with communicating. Each couple needs to be responsible for communicating how they are feeling or if something hurt them. Always leading with love. If you are leading with love it’s easier to have those conversations. We just had God as our foundation. We prayed together a lot and had Bible Study. We knew that we needed something in the center and that was our faith in God.
Shawnte: It’s kind of good that we didn’t have a lot of people supporting us early because we didn’t get the opportunity to take bad advice. We were 21 years old (Shalanda and Shawnte were born one day apart November 21 and November 22) when we got married. Everyone thought we were going to fail. We really leaned on each other and our relationship with the Lord.
Shalanda: Another thing is just having fun. We love to laugh and have a good time. Every marriage needs that.
What is something you are proud of?
Shalanda: I’m proud of our family. If you look back at how young we were and no one really thought we were going to make it. Having a healthy marriage and that we raised some pretty awesome kids is the greatest joy for me.
Shawnte: I would have to agree. We are far from perfect, but we tried to put family first. We even lost some friends because they thought we should have been hanging out. We were young but we put our family up front, before our dreams and our hopes. Elijah was like our baby Simba. It meant a lot for me to be able to provide for him.
What song always gets you out on the dance floor?
Shalanda: Music is our thing. I love music from the 70s and Verzuz with The Isley Brothers and Earth Wind and Fire. I guess my go to is Jill Scott’s Golden.
Shawnte: I’m a big music fan. Stuff from the 70’s. I’m a big Hip Hop fan. Today I listened four times to “What you won’t do for love for love.” For me the dance floor is me nodding my head, patting my foot and singing the wrong key.
Shalanda: I’m glad you finally admit that you don’t dance.
Shawnte: When I was raised we listened to music, but we didn’t dance a lot.
What makes you feel at peace?
Shawnte: All the bad news and seeing everything on social media takes peace away from you. We aren’t taking care of our mental health when we overwhelm ourselves with despair and tragedy. My peace is probably coming home and seeing my family. Being around my family and being happy makes me feel at peace.
Shalanda: For me it’s quiet time with everyone being asleep and I get to be up by myself. I love going to the beach and watching the water. I love looking out the window to my yard when the sun is shining. Being able to unplug and plug into the source.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
Shawnte: Finish school. I’m happy how things have turned out for me, but I think the path could have been a lot better. I did what I was good at instead of what I loved. My choice was to get married early and I didn’t want to be in school broke. I wanted to make some money.
Shalanda: I would tell my younger self, Just go for it girl! Go all out. At the same time, I’m like you. I wouldn’t trade taking that time off to raise the kids.
What is your biggest pet peeve – what gets on your last nerve?
Shawnte: Shalanda won’t put the toilet paper on the roll. It’s so easy, but she won’t do it. I stopped asking her to.
Shalanda: My pet peeve is smacking. I can’t stand it.
What’s your go to midnight snack?
Shawnte: A bowl of cereal. Probably Frosted Flakes. Now that I’m not eating it, the cereal just sits in the cupboard
Shalanda: Popcorn-microwave popcorn or sometimes bags of popcorn.
Shawnte’s 5 favorite things
2.The Beach (Balcony, ocean view, sitting early in the morning or at night and listening to the waves)
3.Action Movie Series, including The Matrix and Die Hard
5.Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream or Marion Berry Ice Cream
Shalanda’s 5 favorite things
3.Pampering myself -hair, nails
4.Singing, acting and writing
5.Houses/Interior Design -HGTV
Tell us something Good 2(to) know
Shalanda- It’s good to know Jesus.
Shawnte- During COVID things are hard to get, so go to the stores early in the morning. Early in the morning the shelves are stocked and you don’t have the stress of people banging into you.
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