We ARE 50% of our way to our Funding Goal!

The Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs has granted us a portion of our funding-- the rest will be raised from individuals!  Want to offer financial support?  Click on the donate link to use a credit card or Paypal.  

Email smartcookieswithjennitooley@gmail.com to make arrangements to send a check.

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Project Description

 “Smart Cookies with Jenni Tooley" is a 15-minute documentary series in which actor/filmmaker Jenni Tooley interviews local female artists at a variety of Dallas venues. As a mid-career professional artist herself, Jenni is always interested in how other artists balance their personal, business, and artistic lives and loves to talk with other women about their experiences in various creative industries. Artists will be chosen across disciplines, age ranges, and cultural backgrounds. Some may just be starting out, others mid-career, others at the end of their career. Some may make a living solely as an artist while others carry it on as a side project to their career or family.  

From a seed budget the series will start out with six interviews done on location with a three camera set-up. We will shoot two interviews per day over a period of three days.   We have received a Special Support grant from the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and are approaching Dallas Philanthropists to fill out the project funding. 

Admin/Production team committed include: Jenni Tooley, Director/Producer; Alicia Pascual, Co-Producer; Laurel Hoitsma, Consulting Producer; Bruce Richardson, Director of Photography; Kayla Combs, Make-Up Artist  


We will create a Smart Cookies Youtube Channel where the videos will be posted and available for embedding by any organization, location, artist or supporter who is interested in showcasing these wonderful ladies and this vibrant city. Marketing will happen through Social Media Channels. In advance of the first episode being released we will run a social media campaign that will include creating a Cookie Convos FB Page, engaging Social Media Influencers who have strong ties to the Dallas Arts Scene, promoting the premier of the first episode with a FB LIVE Event at a premier party that will be held at the Premier Venue, and encouraging everyone at the party to share the FB post while they are there. When each episode comes out, Social Media Influencers will share and encourage others to share and comment on the interviews. We will also pay to boost the posts with FB ads.  

Future funding opportunities will continue through the previously mentioned channels and a Patreon Page will also be created and marketed on the Youtube Channel and through Social Media efforts to support future episodes so that interest and grass roots efforts will drive the production.  

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How it came about

Since returning to Dallas, Ms Tooley has been talking to other people in the non profit world about the fact that we need to advocate for our local artists and put together an interview series. At the time there was no one who wanted to take on producing the idea. During an audition day for Jenni Tooley’s film STUCK, Jenni and local actor Joanna Schellenberg had some down time and sat down for a chat in front of the camera. The conversation centered around the film that Jenni was directing and Joanna was starring in as well as what it is like to be an aging ingenue and what we do to balance our careers and personal lives. A bowl of cookies happened to be nearby. Thus was born “Smart Cookies with Jenni Tooley”. After much consideration, Ms Tooley decided that the quality of the series needed to reflect the quality of art and life we have here in Dallas so she chose not to go the “shoot it on your iPhone and post it” route, but rather engage a local production team to create a stunning and beautiful but content rich work.  


  • showcase Dallas Cultural venues and other cool places in the city   
  • increasing the visibility of the Dallas Arts Community and its Artists   
  • educating people about what it is like to be a working artist   
  • providing access to mentors   
  • supporting the work of local artists 

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Artist's Bios 

STORMI DEMERSON is an actress, poet, spoken word artist, singer and visual artist whose interests span a broad range of spiritual, motivational, social, economic and justice issues. Stormi earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Texas Christian University where she concentrated on theatre performance.   

Throughout her career of more than two decades, Stormi has been highlighted in numerous plays such as Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Mississippi Goddamn, The Bluest Eye, Wit, Meet Vera Stark, Death Tax, Diamond Dick: The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921, and most recently in the world premiere of Br'er Cotton. Stormi also performed at La Mama Theatre in New York as part of the Soulographies festival. Recognition includes: DFW Critics Forum award, Tarrant County Live Theater League award and Best Actress by the Dallas Observer.   

Stormi is a lyricist and poet who has been published in Dresscodes, a celebration of poetry by women. She is also among the inaugural spoken word artists for “In the Words of a Sista,” an annual showcase of African-American women writers presented in conjunction with the South Dallas Cultural Center. She performs spoken word and sings at private events.  

Stormi also is a visual artist who uses charcoal, acrylic and pencil as her medium while exploring non-traditional canvases such as chairs, doors as well as traditional stretched canvas and paper to articulate through brush and pencil her ideas about love, life, strength of African-American woman in particular. Stormi is the proud daughter of Julia Demerson, a strong source of her inspiration.  

MARIANNE GARGOUR(not pictured) is an oil painter who boldly paints traditional subjects with a contemporary flair. Her style is termed abstract impressionism. Marianne’s work is infused with a Mediterranean light that reflects the French culture in which she was raised. Creating new art, new connections, sales, and cultivating the art community comes naturally to Marianne ‑ this is where she shines. Marianne earned her undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and her Master of Fine Arts at Parsons School of Art and Design in NYC.  

Marianne describes her process as such: "By abstracting the beauty in my surroundings through forms, color, and intuitive marks I move away from a world of predefined objects; I express my personal vision of the world."  

Since 2006, Marianne has served as the creative director of MG Painting & Design. She is represented by Craighead Green Gallery of the Dallas Design District and OnCenter gallery in Provincetown, MA. She currently works in her Dallas Deep Ellum Studio at the Continental Gin Building. She has had several solo shows in DC and most recently at Craighead Green Gallery. Marianne enjoys a large following in Dallas, DC, and in Europe.   

She has been teaching and giving lectures on art to children and adults since 2000, at educational institutions such as Dallas International School, Creative Arts Center, Bishop Lynch High School, and Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing arts. Marianne currently lives with her husband, her two teenagers and her dog in Dallas, TX.  

KARISSA LEICHT is an early-career director of photography, gaffer and AC (Assistant Camera) for film and video projects. She first took an interest in filmmaking at as a young teenager, and began editing small projects on her own. She pursued her interest throughout high school and college, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, minoring in Digital Media, from Stephen F. Austin State University. She has since worked on projects in the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Karissa served as Director of Photography for STUCK, an independent feature film shot in Dallas, and Nighthawks, a short. Recent projects include a car commercial app, and a dental commercial spec.  

As a young professional, Karissa is committed to expanding her knowledge and skill base through hands-on education, learning from other DPs, gaffers and ACs on set. Karissa’s ultimate goal is to be a diverse cinematographer with the ability to travel, and to learn from a variety of cultures and ethnicities. She believes that cinematographers should employ both a technical understanding of a project, but also have intuition, and use life as a platform for their art.  

VICKI MEEK is a visual artist, independent curator and writer. She writes cultural criticism for Dallas Weekly with her blog, Art & Racenotes. She is also a guest columnist with her monthly column ARTiculate for TheaterJones, an online performing arts magazine. She has curated more than 100 exhibitions for institutions like the Arthello Beck Gallery, African American Museum and D-Art Visual Art Center in Dallas, Project Row Houses in Houston, Carver Cultural Center in San Antonio, Kentucky State University Gallery, The Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Treme Museum in New Orleans, and C3 Gallery at Dallas Museum of Art.  

With more than 40 years of arts administrative experience that includes working as a senior program administrator for a state arts agency, a local arts agency and running a nonprofit visual arts center, Vicki retired in March, 2016 as the Manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center. She served on the board of the National Performance Network 2008-15 and was Chair from 2012-2014.  

Vicki is also a nationally recognized artist who has exhibited widely. She is in the permanent collections of the African American Museum in Dallas, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, Connecticut. She was awarded three public arts commissions with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Art Program and was co-artist on the largest public art project in Dallas, the Dallas Convention Center Public Art Project. Vicki was the only Dallas artist of ten national artists chosen to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Nasher Sculpture Center. The resulting site-specific installation is now on permanent display at Paul Quinn College.  

Vicki is currently working as a full time artist who splits her time between Dallas and Costa Rica where she is Chief Operating Officer of USEKRA: Center for Creative Investigation, a non-profit retreat for creatives in a wide range of disciplines.   

ANASTASIA MUNOZ(not pictured)is an actor, teacher, and the founder and Artistic Director of Arts Mission Oak Cliff, an artist co-working and education center in west Dallas that encourages a vibrant community through creativity.   

A native of DFW, Anastasia and has been seen recently as Sophia in Smart Pretty Funny at Amphibian Stage Productions, Henrietta Leavitt in Silent Sky at Watertower Theatre, Brutus in Julius Caesar with Shakespeare in the Bar, and Kate Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer with Shakespeare Dallas. She has also worked with Stage West, Dallas Theatre Center, Casa Manana, Undermain Theatre, Theatre 3, Dallas Children’s Theatre, Ochre House and the Drama Club.   

Anastasia has worked as a voice actor for the past nine years with FUNimation Entertainment, voicing over 75 roles. As a teaching artist, she has taught for the Dallas Children's Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Junior Players, Big Thought, Shakespeare Dallas and St. Patrick Catholic School. In addition to acting, she has also worked as a director, producer, playwright, choreographer, makeup designer, costume designer, and stage manager.  

HOLLY “LEV” PEYTON is a self-taught songwriter and guitarist. After making noise in the music scene with her debut EP, Fear No Evil in May 2015 on Vintage Lion Records, electro-pop artist LEV caught the attention of international record label and music agency DEFDISCO, ultimately signing with the British label in May 2016. The fourth artist to sign with DEFDISCO for label representation in the U.S., LEV’s infectious lyrics alongside dreamy synths and booming beats serve as a nod to ‘70s disco and ‘80s synth-pop.   

The name LEV, which translates to “lion” in Czech, is attributed as the symbol of valor and reminder of inner strength, regardless of circumstance.   

LEV notes artists such as Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, New Radicals, The Verve, and U2 as influences.  Instinctively drawn in by their use of harmonies, she credits Michael Jackson for his “use of simple drum beats, catchy Bass and iconic voice one-offs” for providing the most imaginative tracks to date. LEV has rewired these early sensibilities within the fabric of an Electronic ‘80s Pop vibe, as she pairs lush vocals with sensuous grooves, dance beats and synth sounds. LEV’s commitment to artistic fearlessness is readily apparent in her upcoming release, which is produced by Drew Scott, Marcus Bellringer and Mobley.  

JENNI TOOLEY  is a filmmaker, actor, producer, and writer. In 1990, she began her professional acting career as an ensemble member at Dallas’ Undermain Theatre, where she performed in more than a dozen productions. Jenni also created, produced and acted in site specific performance art pieces that took place in parking lots, bars, diners, rooftops, and creeks around Dallas. She was received Dallas Observer’s “Best Actress” award, was a Leon Rabin Award Nominee and received a Dallas Critics’ Forum Award.  

Jenni is perhaps best known for her work as Annie, Ethan Hawke’s second wife, in Richard Linklater’s award-winning Boyhood. Additional film and television credits include Walker Texas Ranger, Wishbone, Arlington Road, and Wes Anderson’s first feature, Bottle Rocket. In 2007, she wrote, directed, produced and edited a short film called The Safety of Others which she shot in Dallas. The film premiered at South By Southwest, toured 12 cities in the US, Canada, and Great Britain, and won WorldFest Houston’s “Best Comedy Short.” She has also served as a unit production manager and producer for numerous short films and a feature shot in New Jersey called Montclair, which won Cinema City’s “Best Produced Screenplay.”  

Jenni’s most recent project is STUCK, an independent feature film. Jenni served as screenwriter, producer, and director and has a lead role in the film. STUCK was funded through crowd-funding campaigns and grassroots efforts. With a $250,000 budget and 250 backers, cast and crew, STUCK was produced in late 2016/early 2017. The film is 99.5% Dallas cast and crewed and was shot on location in the cities of Dallas, Richardson, and Arlington. It is slated for completion and festival release in August, 2018.  

Jenni has also had two poems and two short stories published, won an award for an experimental photographic work at University of Texas at Dallas, won an award from Austin Pet’s Alive for a photo that was used in their marketing, knits and sells Mantra scarves, is known at Austin venues for some serious blues dancing, and enjoys making artist’s books.  

Jenni’s full film/TV resume can be found on IMDB.



Coming soon....