Kerry Washington, in conversation with Voices Artistic Creative Director Aja Monet, explained how “The Vagina Monologues” connected her ambitions as an actor and activist. 

“Once I became a professional actor … the path for connecting the activism and art wasn’t always clear for me,” Washington said in an Instagram Live. Then she met the community of women behind “The Vagina Monologues.” 

“I was like, ‘Oh! I found my people,’” she said. 

“The Vagina Monologues” typically serves as the feature production of global activist nonprofit V-Day, which works to end violence against women, girls and the planet. The organization is now pivoting to Voices, an interdisciplinary performance art project and campaign rooted in Black women’s stories, including cis women, trans women, and nonbinary and gender fluid people from the African diaspora and continent. 

“This piece will ultimately be in service and for Black women all over the world, to speak to the complexities of our experiences, as well as a collective vision for change, justice, compassion and solidarity,” Monet said. “We seek to encourage and establish a world that fosters radical, truth-telling love.”  

Monet, and a team of three artists and activists will curate the final piece, which aims to use art to embody and inspire solidarity. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 14. 

“Working with V-Day taught me a lot about sisterhood and solidarity,” said Washington, who used to be on the V-Board, alongside actress Jane Fonda, scholar and lawyer Kimberlé Crenshaw, and others. 

In discussing the limitations of storytelling, Washington highlighted the dangers of not having enough diverse stories being told. She warned against being “seduced into people-pleasing every audience” and said specific storytelling makes room for everyone to connect, as long as an audience chooses to actually listen. Watered-down storytelling is not fulfilling, she said. 

Washington also explained the importance of evolving beyond gender norms. She said committing to a healthy embrace of gender fluidity is necessary to the healing of the Black community. In addition to being willing to evolve, creating space for undertold stories and self love, Washington offered a final note: to rest. 

“In this moment for me, the work for me looks like a nap,” she said, nodding to the value of health and wellbeing in creativity. “I need a moment rising from ashes to just be.”