MONTGOMERY (AP) — Retired university dean and actress Tommie “Tonea" Stewart, known for roles in films such as “A Time to Kill" and “Just Mercy," has been appointed to the Alabama school board, Gov. Kay Ivey's office announced Tuesday.
Ivey appointed Stewart to replace longtime school board member Ella Bell who died in November. Stewart's appointment to the District 5 seat is effective immediately.
Stewart served as the dean and a professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Alabama State University. Prior to her tenure as dean, she served as chair and a professor in ASU’s Department of Theatre Arts.
“Dr. Stewart is bringing forth a great passion and a lifetime of unique experience that I know will greatly benefit Alabama’s students and educators. I look forward to serving alongside her as we work to build a stronger future for our state," Ivey said in a statement.
Stewart said in a statement released by the governor's office that, “education is the pathway for our children's future."
“It is our charge to motivate, validate, and create a positive environment for teaching the youth and supporting the employees that our children encounter,” Stewart said. “This was the focus of Board Member Ella Bell, and her work will not be in vain.”
Stewart has a bachelor's degree from Jackson State University, a master's degree from the University of California in Santa Barbara and a doctorate from Florida State University, according to the governor's office.
Her other film and television credits include “Mississippi Burning," the television movie “The Rosa Parks Story" and the television series “American Horror Story."
Alabama voters in March will vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to replace the elected state school board with an appointed commission. Members would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Alabama Senate.