Mississippi girl moves beyond scary start to Disney dream

Even before 11-year-old Disney Channel star Trinitee Stokes was born, her parents knew there was something special about her.

Each time Ron and Kia Stokes, who met while they were in college in Jackson, went to the doctor for an ultrasound, Trinitee was literally dancing in the womb.

“The doctor hadn’t seen anything like it,” Ron Stokes said.

It was a sign of things to come, but it put her in peril at the time of delivery. The same relentless energy that helped Stokes become Judy Cooper, the humanoid sister robot on "KC Undercover," became a problem when doctors discovered during labor the umbilical chord had wrapped three times around her neck.

“It was wrapped so tight that if she had pushed a little more, it would’ve suffocated her and she would’ve died,” Ron Stokes said.

Doctors rushed Kia into an emergency c-section and Trinitee was delivered before her parents even knew what happened. Already playing around with the idea of naming her Trinitee, the couple solidified that decision when they found out how many times the chord went around her neck.

“I do believe God had his hand on me, on my life, to keep me from dying …he is always present in my life and he’s has done everything for me,” Trinitee Stokes said.

For Ron and Kia, who were active members at Clinton’s Christ Covenant International under pastor Darryl Garrett, their only daughter’s name serves a dual meaning.

“Because we believe in God, whenever anyone called on her, they’d also be calling on the father, the son and the Holy Spirit,” Ron Stokes said. “We want to remind her whose image she is created into and that she doesn’t forget her biblical principles.”

The church not only served as inspiration for Trinitee’s name but also an incubator for her burgeoning show business career. Kia Stokes often wrote church plays, and created a part for Trinitee after she began memorizing other people’s lines at age 3.

“You could see the light bulb go off,” Ron Stokes said. “She fell in love with the admiration and the real-time reaction. She was a natural.”

Within months of her first time onstage, Trinitee had earned a spot in a Gerber baby food commercial and attracted Jackson-area talent agent Sharon Ward, who included Stokes in a showcase for 30 industry representatives.

“She did her monologues and everyone wanted Trinitee, even ones who didn’t normally take kids,” Ron Stokes said. “(Ward) told us that we had to go to Los Angeles.”

In the summer of 2012, the Stokeses packed up a moving truck and set out for Hollywood. After years of working in administration at Jackson State University, Ron Stokes landed a job as a professor teaching night and online classes for Argosy University, which allowed him and his wife to take Trinitee from audition to audition.

The move paid off when Trinitee landed a role on "KC Undercover," starring Zendaya, which has gained more than 106 million total viewers across all platforms, according to Variety.

“God has been with us to make sure we have a great spiritual relationship so that when we moved out here surrounded by all the glitz and glam, we know where we come from and we didn’t lose track of what he’s done for us," Trinitee Stokes said.

Trinitee said her character, Judy Cooper, is similar to her own gregarious real-life personality, but Trinitee wishes sometimes that she could have “a dictionary for a brain” like her robot character.

“This season is really shaping up to be an adventurous season,” Trinitee Stokes said. “Every episode is going to leave you on a cliffhanger, even for myself.”

Although the Stokes family is thousands of miles from its Mississippi roots, they instill Magnolia State values through religion and Southern cooking. Trinitee is quite fond of each grandmother’s dessert recipes, and craves the smoked chicken wings from Jackson’s E & L Barbeque. “There is nothing better than the food in the South,” she said.

In addition to acting, Stokes considers herself a Renaissance woman. She designs and sells clothing on her website, thetrinitee.com, and has released two singles, including “Miss Me” in February.

"I want to be a legend and known for my craft," Trinitee said. "I want to bring hope and inspiration to the world, allowing people to be true to themselves."

Contact Jacob Threadgill at 601-961-7192 or by email at jthreadgil@gannett.com. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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