Wednesday, September 20, 2017

#WhatIsBeautiful Interview with #MakeItFair Founders

Robyn Hussa Farrell, Editor of #RealDeal, interviews Nadia Quinn and Patricia Noonan, two of the Founders of the #MakeItFair campaign to learn how they define beautiful.  (see the full interview about #MakeItFair here)

MakeItFair.00_jpg_srb1.  What is the #MakeItFair campaign?

#makeitfair is a call for gender equality in the stories we tell, the wages we earn, and the future we shape.  The goal is vast and so, as artists, we decided to do what we do best: create.  Our first video involves a cast and crew of more than 70 women, underscoring the wealth of female talent that often goes untapped.  As we move forward, we will continue to raise awareness, ask tough questions, celebrate female talent, connect female artists to opportunities, laugh, create, and broaden the scope of the stories being told. We encourage others to use the hashtag #makeitfair to ask questions and spark conversations within their own networks.

Please see website: www.themakeitfairproject.com for photos, videos, behind the scenes footage, etc.

2.  For each of you, did you ever have issues with body image or other challenges?  If so, could you share with our readers how manage(d) these obstacles and challenges?

PN: I don’t think I’ve ever met a single woman (or man for that matter) who hasn’t had body image issues at some time or other…but in our business, the scrutiny over what you look like can certainly exacerbate any existing insecurities.  I’ve been told I’m not thin enough, not pretty enough, my boobs are not big enough, etc…just like other women have been told any number of things about the idiosyncrasies of their own bodies.  One weird body image insecurity I have is about my height.  I have been 5’8” since I was about 10 or 11 – which meant I was way taller than most people my age and stuck out like a sore thumb.  To this day, I have been told in auditions I’m too tall to play opposite the guy they want to cast, etc.  I have to constantly remind myself to fix my posture and take up my full height/space after years of shrinking down to feel more “normal,” included, and non-threatening.  I know 5’8” isn’t even that tall, but I promise you, it’s been “a thing.” MakeItFair1.00_jpg_srb

So now, I focus on a few things to help with body image issues: looking for  beauty in others, focusing on my health, and taking up space.  I love looking at my friends, at strangers on the subway, at anyone really, and finding what’s beautiful about them.  A lot of the time, what I see as beautiful is probably part of what they feel weird about themselves – their really big eyes, the scar on their face, etc.  Seeing the beautiful in the specific “weirdness” (by which I simply mean not “magazine/photoshop perfect”) of others helps me to see it in myself.  Whenever discussion has turned to weight, I just focus on my health.  I am an active person.  I want to be able to hike mountains and swim laps and dance for a looooong time.  I have also been very sick at certain times in my life.  So I focus on eating well and exercising – not because I want to look a certain way, but because I want to feel a certain way – I want the energy and stress relief and creativity eating well and exercising give me…and I want to be around and active for as long as possible.  So I change the motivation behind eating well, hydrating, exercising from “I’m gross and fat and need to do better” to “I’m giving all these things as gifts to my present and future self.”  Lastly, taking up space.  For me, taking up space means standing at my full height and living fully in my body.  I think as women, especially, we are often afraid to take up space with our bodies and our words.

Real-Deal-PledgeNQ: Of course. Honestly– when I let my head go there, it goes there…but I choose not to because it’s a waste of time. That’s possibly simplifying the issue too much, but that’s how I feel! I can spend my time obsessing about that extra butter I ate or wondering if I should focus on getting a six pack…OR I can focus on things that actually matter like being a good and happy person…creating, thinking, reading, DOing. No one else is worried about my flaws. People worry about their own flaws. Also, what’s a flaw? Who defines what’s good or bad? You might think your feet are too big, but I promise there are people out there literally OBSESSED with big feet. (Or small boobs or too being tall or short calves or whatever other made-up problems we tell ourselves we have).  Life is too dang short.

3.  How do you keep yourselves sane, ‘mentally fit’ and happy? For example, do you employ any activities that help you manage stress.  Any strategies that utilize the arts in coping?

PN: Well, as I said, exercise and eating well are two of the best ways I stay mentally fit and happy.  Also, working on creative projects I am passionate about is huge for my mental happiness.  Spending time with the support, love, and laughter of friends and family – also huge.  I am a bit of a workaholic – and a lot of the creative women I know are as well because we know (at least for now) we have to be even better than our best to break through – but I have learned that I need to take breaks and spend time with people I love or time to relax alone or I will get nothing done (or at least nothing done well).  Reaching out to support and/or celebrate one person a day (just a text message even counts) helps me…taking a quick walk outside…doing three pages of free writing to clear my mind…thinking about three things at the end of the day I’m really proud of/grateful for – all those things help me manage stress and stay “mentally fit.”  For fun: game nights with friends, hiking, traveling, going to the movies, going out for a delicious meal, spending time with people I love – any of that will do the trick!

NQ: Maybe this is cliche, but I’ve started doing yoga recently and it has really helped my brain! I know there are physical benefits, but for the most part it simply…calms my brain. It’s a good way for me to find my center and remember that everything is ok. Everything is always ok. Breathing is key for me– I like to check in with myself during the day and just take some time to breathe– even 30 seconds seems to get my head back in the game and keep my stress levels from bubbling over. Also, TV. I know there are rumors that it “fries your brain”, but I love nothing more than getting lost in the world and lives of other people for a while. The Good Wife has been my binge-show of choice recently….it relaxes me and gives me the false-confidence that I could be a lawyer and win trials. 🙂

4.  Over the last year, we launched the #WhatIsBeautiful campaign.  The campaign is designed to ask these three questions:

a.     What is Beautiful WIB logo

PN: Oh boy, I don’t know J  To me, something that is beautiful is something that stops me in my tracks.  It can be a person, an image, a song, a piece of writing, a place, a gesture…something that stops the crazy pace of life and makes me stand still…and maybe see the world a little differently.  Or at least live very presently in the moment for a bit.

NQ: Beautiful is personal. There is no one way to define– I think everyone sees and feels beauty differently. The ocean and the sky are the two most beautiful things to me. Vast and open and limitless.

b.     What is Inner Beauty

PN: I think inner beauty could mean being comfortable in your own skin – knowing who you are, warts and all, and loving that even as you try to become a better person.  I think if you love yourself you give yourself and others compassion…and if you’re comfortable in your own skin, you live your life with passion and authenticity. Passionate, authentic, compassionate people are alive and glow with beauty inside and out – they’re the kind of people I want to be around.

NQ: Kindness, maybe? Patience? Generosity? Inner-beauty radiates into outer-beauty. I think it’s an intangible quality that is again, different to everyone. It’s personal. Beauty– inner and out– is so subjective. That’s the most important thing about it all. Kindness, though.I don’t think anyone would argue against the idea of kindness=beauty.

camerac.      What is Happiness

PN: I’m still learning to define this word for myself.  I think happiness could be knowing who you are, what you value, and what you bring to the world…and living your life passionately and “all in” in accordance with those three things.  Doing so does not mean freedom from pain and suffering and failure, by any means, but I think not doing so is a sure recipe for unhappiness…or at least for never really living.

NQ: For me, I think it’s contentedness. Realizing that there’s no thing or time or achievement that is going to enable me to be more happy than I can be right now at THIS moment with all the circumstances of my life right NOW. Happiness is in stillness. Awareness.  It’s everywhere, in every moment…we just have to choose to see it and live inside of it.

5.  How can people get involved or help with the #MakeItFair campaign? 

PN: If you have any resources you’d like to share with creative women or projects you’re working on that you’d like to involve more women in, please reach out to us via our website and/or Facebook.  I think, in the future, we will have more ways for people to get involved, but for now I would say the best way to be involved in #makeitfair is to start making change and asking questions in your own corner of the world.  Look at the Tv/movies/plays/ads you consume – start to think more critically about the way women are portrayed.  Write your own stories, speak up in meetings, run for office, take up space (whatever that means for you).  Keep the questions and conversations going – use #makeitfair when you do so on social media.  Awareness and questioning are parts of the first steps; taking action and making change are the next.  I think being “unapologetically yourself” as the “real deal pledge” states is a good first step – because if we all do that, we could create a revolution. MakeItFair2.00_jpg_srb

NQ: Make things. Create. Think. Strive. Work hard. Do YOU! Love, support and enable the creativity of the women around you. We can help each other. There aren’t a few lady-spots that we are all vying for. (It sure seems like it, but we can’t play into those ideas!!) We are strongest together–men and women–equally moving forward side-by-side, putting the gifts we have to give out into the world. Leaving a strong legacy for future generations. We all have value! All voices are important.

#MakeItFair founder bios:

PNoonanPATRICIA NOONAN (Script, Lyrics, Executive Producer) is an award-winning actor, singer, lyricist, and playwright.  Noonan wrote book and lyrics for the musical Learning How to Drown developed at The Johnny Mercer Writers’ Colony (Goodspeed) and the Pitch (Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival) and penned the piece “Happy Anniversary” debuting in Ladybits this spring.  She graduated as a Presidential Scholar from Boston College where her award-winning plays The Storykeeper and Mermaid People were first produced. As an actor, Noonan has created roles in Maury Yeston’s Death Takes a Holiday (Sophia), Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth Bennet), Signs of Life (Lorelei), Baby Case (Betty Gow), Neurosis (Abby), and Little House on the Prairie and appeared in revivals at NYC’s Avery Fisher Hall and City Center Encores and across the country.  As a concert soloist, Noonan has traveled the country from 54 Below to the Kennedy Center to Bass Hall.  She is also a regular performer with NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program and made her TV debut earlier this year on Law & Order: SVU.

NadiaNADIA QUINN (Script, Lyrics, Music, Executive Producer) is an actor, producer, writer, singer/songwriter known for her work on Broadway (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Television (Mysteries of Laura, The Big C, SMASH, Younger), and Film (Top Five, The Flower Shop, Kitty).  Nadia co-created the folk-rock-comedy-music quartet, Summer and Eve (UCB NY, Joe’s Pub, ArsNova.www.summerandeve.com) and is currently working on writing/producing/making/doing several other things because she can’t turn her brain off ever there’s just no chance of it. (The Paradigm Agency/www.nadiaquinn.com)

EmilyTarverEMILY TARVER (Script, Lyrics, Executive Producer) is an actress/writer/comedian/musician/producer lady. Emily was most recently seen on ABC’s Blackish, TruTV’s Friends Of The People and Vh1’s Best Week Ever. Emily has been studying and performing with the Upright Citizens Brigade NY Theatre since 2004. Emily does stand-up, improv, sketch and musical comedy with her band Summer and Eve. Summer and Eve has a web series currently on Above Average – the digital content wing of Broadway Video. Emily is in a million commercials and will be starring in the upcoming series DONNY! on USA.

Campbell-HoltADRIENNE CAMPBELL-HOLT (Director, Producer) Adrienne is the Founding Artistic Director of Colt Coeur.  She has written/directed two short films: Autobiography of Red (adapted from Anne Carson’s epic poem) and Henry and the Trains. Upcoming theater directing: Foeller Fellowship at Williamstown Theatre Festival, summer 2015; world premiere of First Life (Colt Coeur @ HERE, September 2015). Recent: World Premiere of Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel (workshops at New York Stage & Film and Ojai Playwright’s Conference, production with Colt Coeur @ HERE, NYC), Red starring Tim Daly (Dorset Theater Festival, VT), World Premiere of Greg Moss’ REUNION (South Coast Rep), World Premiere of Everything is Ours by Nikole Beckwith (Colt Coeur @ HERE), Recall (Colt Coeur @ Wild Project), and Fish Eye (Colt Coeur @ HERE). She is a Time Warner/Women’s Project Lab 2014-2016 Fellow, a recipient of a Jerome Foundation/Tofte Lake Fellowship, the EST/Sloan grant, an alum of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and a New Georges Affiliated Artist/Audrey Resident. BA Barnard College, Columbia University.

SarnakZOE SARNAK (Music, Music Director) is an award winning composer, lyricist and playwright. She graduated from Harvard University where Sarnak’s The Quad was produced at Harvard’s Loeb Experimental Theatre and she was awarded the Ann Radcliffe Trust. Sarnak wrote the book, music and lyrics for Mixtape (featured in Silent Street Productions 2012 season), A Lasting Impression(winner of Pace New Musicals 2012, produced Off-Broadway at the 4th Street Theatre at NYTW in August 2012, winner of the 2013 NJ Playwright’s contest, and performed in concert by Cutting Edge Composers), and The Years Between (performed at 54 Below and workshopped in Musical Theatre Factory’s 2014 season). Sarnak was a finalist for NY Stage & Film’s Founders award and her music has been featured by The Lilly Awards, New York Musical Theatre Festival and more, and in venues from Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop to Joe’s Pub and the Highline Ballroom. Zoe is one half of the indie folk/pop band, she, featured in #sheSESSIONS recorded live from The End Studios.@zoesarnak  @shebandTWEETS

ArnetteCRYSTAL ARNETTE (DP, Editor) is not afraid to wear many hats. She is a member of the resident acting company at The Flea Theater (The Bats) and co-produces their late night play festival #SERIALS, makes films with her Bushwick-based production collective Adventure We Can, and music with her folk-rock experiment Ladybird. She also really really likes typography. crystalarnette.com // adventurewecan.com

 

RotsteinERICA ROTSTEIN (Producer) is an Associate Producer at Broadway Across America.  As such, she helps manage BAA’s portfolio of theatrical investments and serves as part of the producing team for all in-house projects (current: Million Dollar Quartet; in development: Water for Elephants).  As an independent producer, Erica is currently developing Short Story Long by Joel Fishbane (both a stage play and a film) with producing partner Samuel Goldberg.  She also seeks out opportunities to collaborate with and showcase the work of talented artists whom she adores.  Current artistic collaborators include Drew Gasparini, Andrew Kober, Alex Brightman, F. Michael Haynie, Zack Zadek, Eli Bolin, Lauren Pritchard, and Megan Loughran.  Erica sits on the Board of Directors of Colt Coeur, an innovative non-profit theatre company and artists’ ensemble led by Adrienne Campbell-Holt.  Erica holds an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business of a BA from Brown University.

 

 

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