Girls Can Do Anything!

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

What do the classic movie “Gone With The Wind,” the TV sitcom “That Girl,” and Lucille Ball have in common? At first glance, the answer is easy. They were hugely popular at the time but have stood the test of time as they continue to have fans decades later. Red, a theater major and movie buff, could explain all the “artistic” reasons why, but Black has (as always) a very different perspective.

It has to do with role models and how they can come from the most unexpected places – both real and fictional. Scarlett O’Hara, a heroine from the Civil War, was a fiercely independent woman (even by today’s standards), while Marlo Thomas portrayed “That Girl” as perhaps the first “modern woman”, one living on her own in a big city and pursuing a career vs. a family. But as Black points out to Red in “RED & BLACK … Girls Can Do Anything!,” it’s Lucille Ball that’s the ultimate badass (Black’s word, not Red’s), proving that you can be an amazing actress and comedian while simultaneously being a pioneer in the TV industry and a shrewd businesswoman.

And what better time than Women’s History Month to reflect on how women can inspire other women to do amazing things? After all, Black may not admit to being a role model, but she will admit that her racing a Ferrari has inspired countless girls over the years, and women of all ages are amused when she says, “How hard can it be? Boys do it.”

Warm and fuzzy? Yes, and proud of it, too. After graduating with a degree in Theater Arts, Tina Pennington (aka “Red”) met an Englishman, fell in love, and traveled the world. His career took them everywhere, with stints in the Netherlands, England, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, until they moved to Texas in the early 2000s.

With two red-headed children, Sawyer and Natasha, and one red labradoodle, Red had the picture-perfect suburban life. That was until … her husband got fired. What had seemed like a fairy tale life soon unraveled to reveal something far from it.

Years later, it ended up having a happy ending, as Red says, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

If you think today’s politics are ugly … let’s talk about a man who named himself “dictator for life” of the Roman empire, and is then assassinated by a group of senators, including his best friend. (However, there’s a “pretty” part – Cleopatra was his mistress.) Food trivia and leadership lessons aside, the fact July is named after him is the perfect excuse to rerun one of Red’s favorite Banter Bites

Quick! If someone says "Julius Caesar," what comes to mind?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Almost everyone has heard of Julius Caesar, but how many of us really know much about him, or at least that's what Red starts to wonder when she receives the usual flippant, but still accurate, reply from her sister, after feeling very proud that she knew that July was named after the famous Roman.

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Pragmatic and blunt? Yes, with more than a hint of sarcasm. Unlike her sister, Mandy Williams (aka “Black”) is all business. With an MBA in International Finance from NYU and London Business School, Black was a driven executive who retired from the male-dominated oil and gas industry before she was 40. Boredom quickly set in, so she began racing Porsches, then Ferraris, and became the first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis.

Living in Texas, Black has been involved with the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation for decades and has raised over $1 million.

Black often says, “You have two choices in life – you can be the passenger along for the ride, or the driver and steer where you want to go.”