61-year-old Terri White has come a long way — even in the matter of one year. In a New York Times profile of the actress/singer, currently starring in “Finian’s Rainbow” on Broadway, the details of her homelessness and career struggles are written as an uplifting story of her coming into success and happiness. And alongside the article ran a photo of Terri smooching her partner Donna Barnett backstage.
The Times writes:
In the summer of 2008, Ms. White, 61, could not make rent. She was evicted from her apartment of 14 years, after a breakup with a longtime girlfriend. She could not work. She also could not find a way to ask for help. For three months, when she was not crashing on a friend’s couch, she slept in Washington Square Park.
Even though Terri had performed with the likes of Liza Minelli and Glenn Close, she still hit rough times, sleeping on park benches and trying to find regular gigs. When a friend invited her down to Florida for a visit, however, her luck seemed to change:
In Florida, she met Donna Barnett, a stately 62-year-old jewelry designer — and, like Ms. White, a cigarette fiend, a fan of road trips and musicals and Maker’s Mark. The two fell in love, and moved in together. When the call came for an audition for an Encores! concert performance of “Finian’s Rainbow” (a predecessor to the Broadway production), Ms. Barnett paid her airfare back to New York.
After weeks of auditions, Terri landed the leading role. Girlfriends — they’re always good for something!
It’s a great story of love and success, and making something of yourself. At 61, and completely out in her career, Terri White is an inspiration, even if you can’t make it to see her perform live, although it does sound quite amazing.