North Carolina Theatre Conservatory student, Leilani Carr, reflects on her experience performing in our Always...Women Climb event.
The event Always...Women Climb is an important reminder of women’s struggles and perseverance throughout time. No matter what we have gone through, we come out on top and continue to fight and stay strong.
Always...Women Climb was a performance ensemble reading that was inspired by and cultivated from the North Carolina Theatre main stage production of ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE. I had the privilege of being a part of this experience with three other strong, amazing young women, who perfectly summarized their opinions on stereotypes about women and their own trials. We each wrote a monologue about our personal experiences as a woman and how we think this has affected our lives and the women around us.
I personally wrote about the trials I have experienced in a day and age where, I feel, if you aren't a white, rich male, you won't get very far in life.
“I am a list of minorities. I'm multiracial, I am bisexual, I have no religious standpoint, and I am a woman. I kind of fall in between for a lot of the categories. You would think that being a woman wouldn't put me in an awkward middle ground. But apparently there is one type of woman: Women who are submissive, powerless and quiet.”
Throughout life I have always been the odd one out because of who I am. All of my attributes come from minorities who are submissive, looked down upon, and made silent.
“My culture has stood up for being African American. My society has stood up for being gay and my gender has stood up for being women. Proud, awesome, women.”
I have stood up for who I am as well as the communities that I am a part of. I believe that we can continue to climb and fight for our rights. We can break that glass ceiling, so we can finally get the opportunities we deserve.
Being a black woman has put me at a greater disadvantage than other women; especially in my field. I had the honor to interview Ariana Debose for my second monologue. She is a fierce African American woman that is currently starring in A BRONX TALE. She has achieved many of her goals in life but agree that it can be more difficult to make it in the world being a black woman:
“I have had a lot of auditions or roles where I was requested to be more of the “typical black girl” stereotype – loud and angry. I try to avoid those roles as much as I can. I don’t believe that women of my nationality are just mad and angry, I was to demolish that stereotype because I am not that type of woman. I have found a way to be heard, people see me, not the Black girl stereotype. I am a woman. And I’m proud that I could make something out of myself.”
Even though people have asked her numerous times to fit the perpetuating “black girl” stereotype, she never has. She refuses to feed into that stereotype because she knows there is more to black women and there is more to her.
I am incredibly influenced and inspired by Ariana. She is a woman that is very successful in her career (a career that I aspire to also have at some point in my life). She is happy and proud of who she is, and shares this pride with young girls that share her aspirations.
“I do a lot of public speaking and I talk to so many young ladies that aspire to be a performer or make a difference in the world. I see so much of myself in those girls. And I like to tell them, you can’t micromanage, you have to let life happen. Sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches and remember you are a strong powerful woman. There is no one else like you. That’s your secret weapon. Now find a way to be heard.”
I am so grateful to hve been part of such an important and empowering performance. It has empowered me to continue to fight for my rights as a multiracial, bisexual woman. I only hope that this performance has also inspired other people to fight for themselves--to go out in the community and share their stories, empower others, and eventually create change. Now more than ever, we need to fight for unity, equality, and more opportunities to be the rock-shaking, transformative women that we are.
Always...Women Climb is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council.