On January 21st, 2016, the biggest march in U.S history took place in Washington D.C.— the Women's March. The official Women's March Website estimates around 4.8 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries around the world, the biggest one taking place in D.C. To kick off the day, actress Ashley Judd recited the poem #NastyWoman in front of hundreds of thousands of men and women assembled at the National Mall, with millions more watching via Live Stream on social media and on news channels worldwide. The poem, actually written by a young 19-year-old woman in Tennessee, has since gone viral around the world. We spoke with Nina Mariah, the author and spoken word performer, to talk further about her journey as a young activist and artist and her hopes for Trump's America. Read the full exclusive interview below.
Nina Mariah Donovan
Where are you originally from?
I am originally from Babylon, New York
Where do you currently live?
I have been raised in Franklin, TN for almost 13 years now.
Preferred Art Medium
I love all types of art, but spoken word and music are my favorites
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Jimi Hendrix, Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, The Beach Boys, Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, Biggie, Drake, Rihanna, Led Zeppelin, Chance The Rapper, Kanye West m Melissa Lozada-Olivia Jasmine Mans, Kai Davis
I love music and spoken word, so I have too many favorites to choose from haha
Sooo hard to choose but I love goofy comedies so I'll say Dumb and Dumber
What are 3 things you want to achieve?
I want to become a sociology professor, meet the Obamas, and publish a poetry book
What is something you deeply love about yourself?
I love that I am seen as carefree and goofy by the people who know me
Briefly describe the circumstances under which you grew up, and how did these influence your art?
I was raised by a Puerto Rican mother and a white father who always encouraged me to stand up for what I believe in, and be a very open minded person, and treat everyone with the same amount of respect, no matter where the come from. This helped me view the world very different from most other kids in Franklin, and helped me write about things many of my peers never knew or had never considered before.
“The second Trump called Clinton a Nasty Woman, I was like YES THATS IT THATS MY NEXT PIECE. I decided I was going to reclaim the phrase , and I originally intended to make it a funny piece; but the more and more I researched the issues I wanted to discuss, the more serious and emotional the piece became for me. I couldn't stop writing”
Can you remember a specific experience from your life that has shaped who you are and what you do as a poet today?
When I was a part of an international spoken word competition called Brave New Voices in 2014 and 2015, it completely changed how I saw spoken word and how I felt about it. I had obviously already loved it, but once I was surrounded by incredible artists for this event, i realized I was not only competing, but gaining a second family. BNV is definitely a huge reason as to why Spoken Word is such a passion of mine and plays such a huge role in my life
Do you think your ethnicity, gender, and/or personal preferences drove you towards becoming an artist?
I've always been very open minded and very different, and art is such a perfect escape and platform for weirdos like me haha
“When I March, I March for EVERYONE who faces injustice or who has felt targeted in some way by Trump, or ever felt ashamed of who they are”
What would you say are your poems’ main themes?
I try not to write about the same thing in every piece, because I want to be seen as a spoken word artist of many subjects, rather than be tied down or attached to one topic. I like to deliver the unexpected. I will say, however, that a reoccurring item in my pieces is always a touch of humor. I try to add those goofy punchlines to every piece so people remember how goofy I am in really life, while also getting a taste of how deep I can be.
How would you describe your style?
I guess my style would be goofy yet fierce New Yorker. Or Sasha Fierce meets Illana Wexler haha
Artists are some of the most politically/socially engaged people. Your poem was recently recited by Ashley Judd at the Women’s March in Washington D.C.— the largest march in the history of the U.S.— and has since garnered a lot of attention worldwide. How did this opportunity arise and how do you feel?
I first recited #NastyWoman at an event I've been performing at for the past couple years called State Of The Word, and Ashley just happened to be in the crowd with her friends! She pulled a few of us who had performed and congratulated us and thanked us for using our voices, and told us a little bit about herself. Then out of nowhere, she looks to me and says "So I'm thinking your piece is going to be up at the Women's March in DC" AND I LOST MY MIND hahaha I was in such disbelief and I was fangirling and everything just happened so fast lol. We texted back and forth about it and I gave her full permission to tweak and change anything and recite it!
“I was raised by a Puerto Rican mother and a white father who always encouraged me to stand up for what I believe in[...] This helped me write about things many of my peers never knew or had never considered before”
What do you think of Ashley Judd’s recital of your piece?
I was actually streaming it on my phone as I was walking to meet my friends at the Nashville Women's March, and I just couldn't stop smiling and thanking God and freaking out and it all felt and still feels like a dream to me. Seeing that fire in her eyes and hearing that passion in her voice, and knowing how many people she was educating/empowering at the march was just beautiful to me. She is such a talented, humble, powerful, BEAUTIFUL woman, and I feel honored and blessed to call her a friend.
Tell us a little bit about how you wrote this piece, which really encapsulates the modern woman and her struggle.
I was watching the debate with my family, and the second Trump called Clinton a Nasty Woman, I was like YES THATS IT THATS MY NEXT PIECE. I decided I was going to reclaim the phrase as I wrote down "I'm a nasty woman", and I originally intended to make it a funny piece, but the more and more I researched the issues I wanted to discuss, the more serious and emotional the piece became for me. I couldn't stop writing and I just became so heated and so passionate, that I ended up writing an almost 7 minute long piece, which is twice as long as my normal pieces are. This piece will always stay close to my heart, and I would have never in a million years expected it to blow up all over the world like it did.
What are your hopes for women and minorities in Trump’s America?
I hope and pray that we never give up on this fight. Yes, we have many rights, but there are still so many inequalities and there are so many other countries who do not give their citizens the same rights Americans have. When I March, I March for EVERYONE who faces injustice or who has felt targeted in some way by Trump, or ever felt ashamed of who they are. We have so much more power than Trump likes to admit, and if we keep fighting I truly do believe we can one day achieve equal rights in every aspect.
“Seeing that fire in [Ashley Judd's] eyes and hearing that passion in her voice, and knowing how many people she was educating/empowering at the march was just beautiful to me”
Photo Source worldaffairsjournal.com
What draws you towards not only writing poetry but performing it live?
Performing and even writing poetry honestly gives me such an adrenaline rush. Sometimes I'll have terrible days and then I go on stage to perform or I write a piece and I suddenly feel like a weight has been lifted off of me. It's such a beautiful outlet and I truly don't know where I would be or who I would be without it.
What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have to keep the creative juices flowing?
I always write my best when I am sitting in my closet or in the shower for some reason! If I get stuck, I turn on songs with really clever or rich lyrics, or listen to some poems on my spoken word playlist. I try to listen to different people saying different things, so my mind can stay open.
Anything else you’d like to add?
ZENDAYA IF YOURE READING THIS PLEASE HANG WITH ME YOURE AN ICON AND I WATCH YOUR SNAPCHAT EVERYDAY AND I WANT TO JOIN FORCES WITH YOU AND REMIND THE WORLD HOW GREAT MILLENNIALS CAN BE
“We have so much more power than Trump likes to admit”
Watch Nina's Powerful Performance of #NastyWoman Below
Watch Ashley Judd's Recital of #NastyWoman at the Women's March in Washington D.C. Below
Photo Source GQ Magazine
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