“I’m just a normal, imperfect person who isn’t foolish enough to remotely think I can do what God asked me to do…but I know HE can do the impossible. I’m with HIM. The rest will come to be.”
Tonja is an actor with a passion for television and film. She has several television and film credits in supporting and leading roles. Her background as a performer goes back to her early childhood. She did modeling as a teen, studied music and acting, and did numerous stage performances as a singer and actor. Tonja travelled extensively as a rodeo queen in her teen years. She credits that experience as well as the disciplines received from having horses and being around hard-working ranchers for her understanding of who she is and her love of public speaking; for developing her love of performing to all types of audiences.
Life drew Tonja away from entertainment for several years. She went through many life experiences that she credits God for doing the inexplainable and setting her free from the hidden pain of abuse and rejection; to break off generational patterns that plagued her family by learning to live under the power of His Word even when it did not make sense.
Tonja proved to be successful in the business world, working her way up to an executive level as a regional sales and marketing director in the real estate & building industries and then owning her own businesses. Tonja was also introduced to incredible leadership in Mary Kay. It was there that she met female mentors and was introduced to leaders like Zig Ziglar. Through this journey, God was shaping her with audacious faith and discernment to do what He created her to do. He birthed a passion inside of her that ultimately drew her back into the entertainment and media industries.
Tonja was drawn back into media and entertainment as a result of a surreal dream God gave her while pregnant with her daughter in 2004. In this dream, God took Tonja on a journey throughout Hollywood and showed her that he was grieved that his church had listened to deceptive voices and pulled his Light out of the media and entertainment industries. He asked her to go on a journey with Him; to be willing to be among other people who would be the Light He wanted His people to be without compromise in influential means of mass communication. Tonja said “yes” to the call, but did not immediately change her course of action. She knew this was something beyond herself and, if it was truly of God, He would make it happen naturally. Just as God took David, Moses, Joseph, Esther, and many others through a season of preparation…Tonja went through several years of preparation, and change to draw her into her purpose. Through it all, she never lost perspective of that moving dream.
Tonja later realized that God also placed the gift of performing in the daughter she was pregnant with when she had the dream. It was no mistake that He used her daughter to draw mother and daughter to their life purposes in His timing. Ari René is a teen actor, writer, singer and influencer. Tonja is an actor as well as a writer, producer, director, and the founder of EmpoWORD2B, the branding name for EmpoWORD Media & Talent (pronounced M-POW-WORD, because we are empowered through THE Word and words spoken).
Tonja is just a normal everyday person who loves people from all walks of life. She allowed God to totally redirect her career, goals, and passions through obedience to Him. She gave up her interior design business to become a servant to what God asked of her, trust in His timing. He placed a passion inside of her to train up kingdom-minded leaders of excellence in the media and entertainment industries rooted in God’s Word in character, boldness, and talent. Her passion is to raise the bar of excellence rather than excuse the lack of excellence; to stay relevant, but focused in this world, and to create empowering stories and media content for the family.
Tonja lived in Los Angeles for nearly six years. She began acting lessons again through top industry coaching in LA. As an actor, Tonja has played many roles in television and film. She has also been involved in ministries in the industry. She works both in secular and faith-based projects believing we are to be a light for the world to see. Tonja has used her leadership, marketing, and interior design backgrounds in her new endeavors as well. She has been blessed to work behind the scenes in the casting, production, and post-production process as well as with writing teams on some amazing projects in Hollywood. She will also finish her degree in Media Arts with a Biblical Worldview in December, 2021. As a writer, Tonja has produced marketing materials and is writing and developing her own projects with an amazing team.
Tonja has gone through storms and trials intended to break her and her daughter. Instead, she trusted God, pressed into truth that did not change from that good ole’ Bible, and mentored her daughter to do the same as they continued to do what God called them to do, trusting His timing and His plan.
Her eye for excellence and bringing out the best in others is something that has followed her throughout her professional career. God has given Tonja an ability to see beauty from a blank canvas in design, stories, and people; to develop them into God’s masterpiece.
Tonja is a native Texan who believes who loves America and the values it was founded on. She believes that freedom isn’t one-sided. She believes that Americans don’t have to agree on everything to support others’ rights in freedom. There is a beautiful humanity in that. Tonja has three kids of her own, two grown sons and one daughter, and several spiritual kids who call her their “adopted” mom. Tonja is an animal lover who loves horses and currently has two furry children known as “dogs”. Part tomboy and part southern lady, Tonja has a vast array of interests and adventures from anything near a lake or the ocean, things that go fast, archery, most things outdoors (except snakes and spiders), to music of most genres, horse events, live or filmed performances, dancing, and dressing up for a night out on the town. Tonja credits her faith for not just sustaining her, but making her a warrior.