So tell me a bit about the origins of Nasty Women Unite Festival. What were the specific events that led to it’s development?
Allison Brzezinski: I am sure we all remember the debate where Donald Trump unleashed the label nasty woman, which instead of defeating and discouraging Hilary Clinton, empowered her and a wold full of Nasty Women behind her. Following that the world shifted when Donald Trump became president and communities began to mobilize, artists united and individuals near and far began to speak out. One of the movements that developed from this turn of events was the Women’s March in January 2017. I watched the March completely enamored by the sheer number of participants- allies. However, while I felt inspired by this, I also felt compelled to do something that would allow all communities to come together, as I feel that is the strongest and will be the most effective aspect of the Feminist Movement. All of those events and my background as an artist and arts producer led me to the creation of Nasty Women Unite Fest, to promote intersectionality and raise funds for the ACLU.
Since this is your second year of the festival, what was most notable things you noticed from the first year?
AB: We are thrilled to be in our second year of the festival and learned so much from last year’s events. The most notable thing we realized last year was how necessary and wanted a platform like NWUF is and still is in 2018. People are looking to have deeper conversations, share their stories and create change and NWUF is a platform which offers this opportunity. I also remember during our final panel last year, at Joe’s Pub, realizing how much work we need to do, not only as artists and art makers, but as educators, and how we need to redefine feminism, so that the need to place the word inter sectional in front of it, is no longer necessary. Feminism has a history, that unfortunately doesn’t always speak to being inclusive, which is what we need now more than ever. I am excited to see what conversations are in store for this year, as we have made some adjustments to our structure and format to allow for more dialogue and resource sharing.
Would you say, especially with the current administration, that the fight and progress for equal rights for the trans, LGBT, and overall women community is moving forward and being won, or is it still very much in it’s backwards state?
AB: I believe there is definitely more work to be done to create a safer and more equal state for marginalized voices, including POC, trans, LGBTQIA, women, religious minorities etc. and do not believe the current administration is in support of this. However, I do believe that a majority of people in this country are working very hard to mobilize by marching, writing to government officials, creating art and speaking about their experiences in order to move things forward. I think the bigger question is what are the next steps we can all take to lead to actual policy change. At that point it will hopefully feel as though we have are closer to our goal.
What are some of the success stories from people that have been a part of this festival? Does anything Noble come to mind?
AB: I was so inspired by the artists who participated in last year’s festival all of whom poured their hearts and souls into their work. Some used comedy as an access point, while others created raw and vulnerable work to share their experiences. Each and every performance, film and art piece, created by these fierce Nasty Women* showed me it is possible it is possible to form a new, supportive and effective community, that we can learn to re-educate people on what intersectionality means and what Feminism can be and accomplish. The panels were also an eye opening experience. After each panel I had audience members approach me thanking the producing board for this opportunity to learn what feminism means and how collaboration and exclusivity is the most vital component of this idea. The conversations that were had between audience and participants alike, were really exciting to me, as people were learning something new about themselves, or about someone else’s experience and felt they could ask questions and engage in a way that they weren’t used to.
Does the festival raise money for any other related causes?
AB: Nasty Women Unite Fest raises funds for the ACLU to protect the rights of all people. As of right now all NWUF proceeds are sent to the ACLU.
What would you like to see this festival achieve, if it has not so already?
AB: Two of the major focuses we have for this year’s festival are accessibility and resource education. We want as many audience members from various backgrounds, ages, classes, races, ethnicity, areas etc. to be able to attend the events June 5th-8th. When selecting venues, we wanted to make sure all had elevators, all were located near subway and bus stops and that everyone could come to a central location. Also, we are going to keep the ticket prices at a lower rate, because we understand that even though this is a fundraising festival, that people may be donating elsewhere or not have the funds at this moment and we do not want to keep anyone that wants to be there from attending, due to financial circumstances. We also will be implementing activist advocates, representatives from major organizations on site, at every event, to offer resources and literature of what their foundation and organization can do to support all of our community members. The overarching goal of these changes is to not only be seen as a performance platform, but also as a safe space, a hub for advocacy and support for individuals in need.
I’m an avid fan of gay cinema. Any films that you would recommend?
AB: I am not overly familiar with Gay cinema or what qualifies as gay cinema. However, I do want to see more subversion of the hetero-normative story line in television, as that is a medium I am more focused on. I commend the non-binary role of Taylor in Showtime’s Billions and the various characters exploring gender and sexuality in Amazons’ Transparent and HBO’s Here and Now, but would like to see the landscape of television and film shift more in this direction. I’d like to see creative teams being more inclusive, starting from the producers and show-runners on down to the cast with more story-lines that center around LGBTQIA, trans, strong women, POC, varied physical abilities, religious backgrounds etc. living day to day life. Where these themes aren’t there for the sake of being trendy, but are more so the experiences that the characters are having, lives they are living, communities they are part of, rather than checking off a box.