F Julene Allen

I know how it feels when people want you to feel small.

I know how it feels when people want you to feel small.

Yet, I had the audacity to grow outside their comfort zone.

Yet, I had the audacity to grow outside their comfort zone.

And, the diligence to keep going.

And, the diligence to keep going.

You can count on me being defiant and resistant.

You can count on me being defiant and resistant.

Latest Posts

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Interview with Numa Perrier, Actor-Writer-Filmmaker

Julene Allen

In a journey of vulnerability and self-exploration, Numa Perrier, actor-writer-filmmaker, and founder & creative director of House of Numa is debuting her first feature film, Jezebel, a true story which is expected to premiere this fall. Jezebel is a coming-out and coming-of-age tale that uniquely explores sexuality. Starring Tiffany Tenille and Numa Perrier who plays her sister in this film, Jezebel reveals a story about a special bond between siblings. While finding themselves in a predicament, having to support their family, two sisters work as a phone sex operator and internet fetish cam girl. A champion of Perrier’s work is American filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, creator of Selma, 13th and A Wrinkle in Time. In our interview, Perrier discusses how support from the filmmaking queen transpired, why good storytelling entails some level of risk and where feminism and sexual freedom intersect.

The following is a sample of our interview with Numa Perrier which is featured in Women For Action magazine's July -October 2018 Issue.

Women For Action: Where did the idea of producing Jezebel, (a true story about your life) stem from?

Perrier: I’ve been plucking true stories based on parts of my life the entire time I’ve been creating visual art and films. This specific story was one of those I knew I wanted to add to the volume.  It took a long time, 15 years — to gain the emotional distance and the courage to follow through with this particular story.  There was a lot of shame associated with not only the work but the poverty that I was in with my family at the time.  So far, I am happy that I am sharing it, but I still don’t feel entirely comfortable.  I think that’s part of the requirement of this work.  I’m way out of the safe zone with this one.

Women For Action: You play your sister in Jezebel and she also helps you with the seed money for the film. This is her story just as much as it is yours. She shares your vulnerability. Why do you think this story is just as important to her to tell?

Perrier: My sister and I have had a roller coaster relationship. It has stabilized and deepened now especially while working on this film together. Playing her in the film caused me to understand and love her beyond description. She has always encouraged me to explore and exploit my sexuality. In her view, we would not be born with something that wasn’t supposed to be of use to us. This story is very much hers as well, but she has let me tell it how I see fit which has been a tremendous vote of trust and confidence towards me. The story is important to both of us because it brought us closer and may do the same for others. We’re both excited about revealing a piece of a lifestyle and a black family in Vegas that just hasn’t been told before.

Women For Action: Not only did the queen, Ava DuVernay donate to your crowdfunding campaign, she made sure her audience caught glimpse of your fundraising initiative for Jezebel. How did she learn about the campaign and how did DuVernay’s support make you feel?

Perrier: I slid in Ava’s direct message’s and let her know that I had just finished filming my first feature. She wasn’t aware that I was even making one and she was so excited for me having got that far and immediately offered to help by contributing and boosting my GoFundMe campaign on her Twitter. It was very generous and more than I had anticipated in reaching out. The second she did that a wave of people donated including other prominent industry players. It wasn’t a blind reach out—I’ve known Ava since 2008 and been a witness to her hard work and courage in making her space very real and very known. It feels pretty great to know that she is proud of me and cheering me on.

Grab this issue!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Book Response: Pearls, Politics and Power

Julene Allen

"Pearls, Politics and Power" is by Madeleine Kunin, former Governor of Vermont and Ambassador of Switzerland.  I commend Kunin's research for this book. It's a collection of interviews and advice from women leaders across the nation, regarding their journey in politics. There are tons of tidbits for both girls and women that may be considering a political career. I advise any woman who is running for public office to read this. It answers questions like, what are the characteristics and traits of a woman holding office, how does she maintain that office, or how would she garner funds for her campaign and so on.

You will be surprised by the answers. We all have this idea of what politicians are like. Sometimes it often hinder women from considering political careers. Women politicians enjoy the power, the sisterhood across party-lines, as well as the change they are making. Many are having fun and enjoying what they do. Even Kunin's personal story makes you feel joyous and proud of her work.

This book is so important to American women. It discusses the advancement of women in nations that we least expect such as Latin America, Mexico and Canada which has a higher percentage of women in their legislative bodies than the United States.  Women in the Rwanda parliament has the highest percentage than any place in the world, standing at 49%. Swiss women did not gain their right to vote until 1991, but the percentage of women in their parliament is greater than the U.S. Various nations have placed women as their prime ministers and heads of state, while the United States, a leading Democratic nation, lags severely behind, even though the women's movement came long before many others. The United States ranks 69th out of 187 countries. Kunin urges more women to consider political careers.

Kunin claims that the perception of how a woman should be while holding policy is often misconstrued by women. It's safe to say that voters have this idea of an ideal candidate. They tend to vote for familiar qualities. This is a hindrance to potential women political leaders because these qualities are in opposition of many women. Few women hold political office simply because there are very few examples of women leadership in politics.

Although women are the majority within the electorate, they represent 27% of individual contributions to candidates, party committees and PACs. Though women give 30% to women candidates while men only give 17% in contributions. Women have an interest in women becoming leaders, yet lag behind in funding political campaigns.

This book may be a must-have for future women candidates, but it is a must-read for all women voters. Plus are resources for political training and mentor-ship for potential candidates. 

Check out the book. I think you will immensely enjoy what Madeleine Kunin and all her colleagues have to say. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Interview with Na'ilah Amaru, Political Strategist & Analyst

Julene Allen

Back in 2016, Na’ilah Amaru was chosen for what would appear to be one of the most important responsibilities in a presidential election. She was selected to formally nominate Hillary Clinton for president of the United States on behalf of the Democratic party.

Before delivering her nomination speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and declaring her support for Clinton to a national stage, the New York delegate had been working as a policy strategist in Atlanta, Georgia after serving in the United States military. Amaru received distinguished honors for her service. She was the lowest ranking soldier and only woman to receive her battalion’s Soldier of the Month recognition and was awarded an Army Commendation medal for exemplary service. 

The following is a sample of our interview with Na'ilah Amaru which is featured in Women For Action magazine's March - June 2018 Issue.

Women For Action: You have served as a policy advisor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, legislative aide to U.S. Congressman John Lewis, and as executive director of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus of the New York City Council. Which area do you feel you’ve made the most impact and why?

Amaru: I have learned from each of my positions and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve different communities in Atlanta and New York. The concept of “impact” is relative because it can be viewed through the lens of both scale and scope – both of which are critical in the political and policy landscape.  When I worked with Kasim Reed, I focused on issues from a citywide perspective. When I worked for Congressman John Lewis, I focused on issues specific to Georgia’s 5th congressional district. When I worked for the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus, I focused on issues relevant to all twenty-six districts of the caucus members. In each of these positions, I was able to make an impact, but it looked different in terms of scale and scope.

Women For Action: You were a speaker at the last Democratic National Convention. You had the opportunity to tell your personal story on a national or even global stage. What was this experience like?

Amaru: The experience was the honor of a lifetime. I received a phone call notifying me that I was selected to serve as one of three presidential nominators. While I was still processing the moment, the DNC staff and I dived directly into logistics - lodging, transportation, and my own personal speaker tracker—all the different elements that make the DNC come to life. I was on autopilot through the entire process—I felt the magnitude of the moment after I delivered my speech. I was interviewed off to the side of the stage and was asked, "What were you thinking during your speech?" I responded, "In my speech, I  referenced my eleven-year self, but my eleven-year-old self never dreamed THIS." In that moment, I turned around, gestured behind me with a sweeping motion, and lost my breath. It was the first time I saw the crowd, and that was the moment I was moved to tears. When I delivered my speech, I wasn't focused on the crowd—I was focused on my mission and that was to tell my story. Seeing the crowd from the side of the stage deeply moved me. Diverse, beautiful, and rowdy, it was a reflection of who we are—everyone in America was somewhere in that crowd. The Democratic Party works to create policies and programs that provide solutions and make America a better place for everyone. To be a part of history by submitting Hillary Clinton's name into presidential nomination was surreal and the honor of a lifetime. Another important aspect of my DNC experience was the emotional process of sharing my story which I had always kept private. I was touched by how many people approached me afterward or sent me personal messages through social media, sharing how they connected with some part of my journey. Whether it was the lived experience of having two moms, being a veteran, being a woman of color, or being an immigrant, many chapters of my story are uniquely American and shared with countless others. It was a lesson for me in the power of vulnerability—how we can share who we are and connect with each other through our stories. Where else in the world can a child begin life in an orphanage and have the opportunity to share her life's journey on a national stage?  Only in America.

Women For Action: After losing the election for what many thought would be the first woman president of the United States, what is a key takeaway from this experience?

Amaru: Around 7 PM on Election Night, I was interviewed at the Javits Center and was asked what I would do if Hillary Clinton lost. I remember telling the reporter, "a lesson I learned from her 2008 campaign loss—as heartbreaking as that was—you pick up the pieces and you get back to work." Back in 2008, I was devastated when she made the decision to suspend her presidential campaign. Her loss was so deeply personal. I hoped she would run again in 2016, and when she went through that process and became the nominee, people thought "Finally, a woman president might really happen! After 240 years, democracy is about to include women! We the people is about to include us."  When Hillary lost, I was angry, scared, and heartbroken, but you pick up the pieces and you get back to work – and that process looks different for everybody. After the 2016 election, I knew people who couldn't get out of bed for days. I knew people (including myself), who had organizing meetings the same week because our lives were on the line and we had no time to waste. The key takeaway of 2016 was grounded in the same truth as 2008:  In life, we will hit low points, but we do what we have to do to keep moving forward. A key step in the process of moving forward is taking the time to pick up the pieces. Then, you rebuild. There is a tremendous amount of personal agency and power in this process, and I have learned, that what we rebuild is often stronger than what was broken.

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