(I wrote this on International Women's Day, but am just posting it now...)
Today, we celebrate the woman! Huzzah!!!
In honor of International Women’s Day today, I’d like to talk about something I did yesterday. I was invited to speak about the arts to a group of high school girls in the Women of Tomorrow Mentor and Scholarship Program. These girls are labeled “high risk,” meaning they are at risk of dropping out of high school or falling into obscurity after graduation.
When I was first asked to speak I thought, “I have nothing to offer them. I’m only 23 and just starting my life as a ‘real adult.’ This is going to be a disaster.” I made a PowerPoint with pictures, videos, and lists of jobs in the arts. I arrived at the school, nervous but ready to talk to the girls. By the end of the 2 hours, I realized I had more to offer them than I had previously thought. Before I knew it I was talking about more than just the arts. I told them about my study abroad in Japan and Paris and gave advice on college concerns. I passionately ranted about the lack of diversity in the arts- I went off on some long tangents about how important women are and how we need more women in the arts!
I looked at these girls and said, “For a long time women have been erased from history, a history that men have written. So if we don’t empower one another to write our own history, who will?” To quote a lyric from Hamilton, we need to put ourselves “back in the narrative.” (Being the theatre geek I am, of course I can’t go without mentioning Hamilton at least once! Sorry, not sorry!)
I tried to instill in them the same vigor that my professors at Florida State instilled in me about theatre and film. “Starving artists are real,” I told them, “but you don’t have to be one to take part in the artistic community.” The arts are more than just what is put on the page, stage, or screen- it’s a collaborative effort by tons of individuals to create a single cohesive piece of art. Artists don’t do art for the money or fame; we do it because we’re passionate about it. We do art because it’s how we communicate with and impact the world.
The girls were so responsive; they asked so many questions about the arts, about college, about study abroad, about working abroad. When it was time for them to go, a handful of them came up to me afterwards to give me a hug and thank me for speaking, or to ask more questions. They were so curious about the world; I hope I was able to spark even more curiosity and excitement in them.
When I agreed to this I had hoped to impact the girls’ lives somehow, but in the end they impacted mine. I’ve never felt more strongly toward my fellow woman. I’m incredibly thankful to the 2 mentors for the school, Dr. Schenkman and Mrs. Wall, for believing I could be a useful resource to the girls. I’m so proud to be a woman.