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We The Women Arts Collective On Diversity In The Entertainment Industry, Black Lives Matter & Gender

We The Women was founded by two actors, Nathalie Love and Samantha Ressler, as a way of rebalancing the sheer gender inequality in theatre, the arts and the entertainment industry at large. The numbers are still stacked against women and in favour of white male straight performers, who are still given a disproportionate platform across the entertainment industry. Enough is enough.

Based out of Los Angeles, the all-female collective is seeking to shatter gender barriers for female performers and the traditional theatre mould whilst ensuring black voices are not only amplified, but given an equal footing by taking their disruptive live theatre experiences – most notably they hosted a wake for 2019 at the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery – online during the global pandemic. Powerfully, their new Wake/Rebirth series allows us to mourn the past and look forward with hope to the future.

Here, the collective discuss how, as white women of privilege and given the context of the global lockdown, it is more important than ever to amplify female voices, especially black female voices. As the collective powerfully says themselves, activismand art goes hand in hand…

It’s important to us to acknowledge that activism and the arts go hand in hand. We recognise that performers often draw from their shared experiences, such as institutionalised racism. It is not only our duty to lend our platform for artists to share their stories, because they matter, but our obligation to actively dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism. We the Women was born out of a place of privilege (having been founded by Nathalie & I, two white women) and we cannot just benefit from our diverse community; we have to do the work to make sure their place in society is one rooted in equality.

We support Black Lives Matter unconditionally and black artists will always have a place, voice and platform in our community. It is now our job as white women of privilege to amplify their voices as loudly as we can. We pledge to continue to educate ourselves, learn, listen and strive to do better every day to support our collective mission. In that spirit, We The Women is matching any donations made to National Bailout Fund, Black Visions Collective, Color of Change, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The Bail Project, Black Lives Matter, Reclaim the Block, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Justice for Tony McDade, Justice for Breonna Taylor & I Run with Maudto reach our goal of 5K.

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For the past two years until this March, We The Women team would meet up in Echo Park or West Hollywood, hopping between coffee shops and drinks spots to meet with other female-identifying creatives. Like everyone else, we’re now on Zoom and Google Hangouts, brainstorming ways to merge our love for theatre with the online realm and keep our network of performing artists creatively stimulated.

Women, as it turns out, definitely know how to keep creating in a crisis. Naturally, the pandemic has forced live events producers everywhere to be even more creative with their work. We hosted our annual fundraiser in January (The Wake for 2019) and since we are no longer staging a traditional piece of live theatre in LA this summer, we decided to repurpose our funds to support a Digital Wake/Rebirth, designed to showcase female artists responding to our prompt from around the world.

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We The Women’s Wake and Rebirth events explore the cycle of life and death, growth and loss, and expansion and regression. With a global crisis on our hands, it felt natural and appropriate to open up the submissions to any female-identifying creatives worldwide. Reviewing all of the incredible creative work and learning about so many emerging female artists has helped our whole team survive quarantine. We’re thrilled to share all of the creative original work in our Wake and Rebirth series, now featured digitally on @wethewomencollective on Instagram.

This series has been incredibly uplifting and is a true testament to the fact that art can and will endure all. We have been unbelievably impressed by all the wonderful submissions that came in from around the world and feel as though there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Writers are still writing, singers singing, dancers dancing, and players playing – perseverance is an intoxicating drug, and I feel hopeful and optimistic by the fact that as long as we continue to create and shine a light on women’s voices, as We The Women has done, our industry will grow in the right direction.

We stand with We The Women in their mission to amplify female voices.

This content was originally published here.

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