Denver Actors Fund in Action: Sheila Ivy Traister

Traister99Sheila Ivy Traister, left, in “99 Histories” for Theatre Esprit Asia last year at the Vintage Theatre.


Note: At the Denver Actors Fund, anonymity of aid recipients is presumed and fully protected, unless and until the recipient chooses to have his or her story told.

_DSC0621Financial-aid recipient: Actor, director and playwright Sheila Ivy Traister has been performing in Denver since 2000. Her first year in Denver,  Westword designated her as the year’s Best Actress for her work in Shadow Theatre Company’s multiracial production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and Theatre Group’s “The Blue Room.” Most recently, she has performed in “99 Histories” for Theatre Esprit Asia at the Vintage Theatre, and performed in the world premiere of “Slow Dance with a Hot Pick-Up” at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre. She starred with Dale Li in Paragon Theatre’s acclaimed “The Sound of a Voice” in 2010. “Traister is heartbreaking as she reveals the combined effect of a cycle of loss, grief and isolation,” wrote Adam Goldstein in the Aurora Sentinel. Sheila has also performed for the Denver Center Theatre Company, Aurora Fox, Town Hall Arts Center, And Toto Too, Playback Theatre and Changing Scene. Sheila has appeared in more than 15 films, and her TV credits include “In Plain Sight” and the miniseries “Asteroid.” Sheila studied mechanical engineering at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and served on the Pistol Team.

 Her story: Sheila took a serious fall in November 2012 and has since accrued more than $73,000 in debts related to her medical expenses. She still awaits three additional surgeries: A full knee replacement, the repair of a torn hip ligament and the repair of a separated shoulder. Sheila also was diagnosed with a severe concussion in the fall, which affects her vision and cognitive functioning. Her recovery has exhausted both her personal savings and retirement. Her expenses average about $1,800 a month, but, at present, her income only amounts to about $600 a month.

How we helped: The Denver Actors Fund board of directors approved an initial gift of $1,800, or the equivalent of about one month of Sheila’s overall expenses. That made for the second-largest gift in the short history of the Denver Actors Fund. Combined with subsequent support including targeted donations from the community, The Denver Actors Fund now has made $2,800 available to Sheila.

A message from Sheila Ivy Traister: “I’m so incredibly grateful to this community of artists and patrons; those of you who have given of yourselves, your time and resources to be there for those of us in dire need. I was really at a loss for how I would get through this next month. Beyond helping me to meet the financial demands created by the circuDAFmstances surrounding my medical needs, you’ve helped me to remember that grace is at work in my life, and that no matter what happens I can trust that I am always taken care of.  I’m humbled and most appreciative to everyone who has made the Denver Actors Fund possible. I would like to thank my dear friend Cajardo Lindsey for reaching out on my behalf.  With my whole heart, thank you all for this most timely and blessed gift!”

To help us help Team Traister more: If you would like to donate to the Denver Actors Fund, see below. If you would like to direct a specific donation to help further defray Sheila Ivy Traister’s significant ongoing financial obligations, mail checks in her name to Denver Actors Fund, 4594 Osceola St., Denver, CO 80212. Or use this donation link, and in your note, direct your gift to Sheila. 

Read more Denver Actors Fund testimonials by clicking here



The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. In addition to financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers offers good neighborly assistance including meal prep and delivery, child care, transportation, errands, construction, pet-sitting and more. For more information, visit our web site at www.DenverActorsFund.Org


To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid: Fill out this brief online form here




Send checks made out to the Denver Actors Fund to:
4594 Osceola St.
Denver, CO 80212



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By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at