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Amplify Our Voices

I've been having a hard time letting my voice be heard as an artist. Ironically, my "why" as an artist is to amplify the voice of others. If I can't let mine be heard, how can I let the voice of others be heard?

As an individual human walking around life who comes from a people pleasing, codependent past, I make it a daily habit to speak up for myself and let my voice be heard, even if it causes discomfort (which-oh boy-is a nightmare for me). However, as an artist, I have been second guessing and halting myself non-stop lately. Although second guessing yourself is second nature to the creative (ha ha cry) I have recently come to a full stop, it feels like. I come from a past of depression and anxiety and I'm pretty open about my journey to healing and recovering from past trauma, but it's like my artist brain is also being rewired during all of this.

Social justice and equality have always been something that I've been very passionate about. I studied it in college and have worked in social justice education. Now is a BEAUTIFUL time to be an artist, though. The worlds of social justice and art are embracing each other more than ever. In times of turmoil, art seems to be a savior or a passageway for feelings to pour out to be shared. Phrases being painted in the streets, art seen in protests, songs written by pens dipped in ink full of pain and sorrow. The world has become a stage and people seem to be taking their moment to shine and be heard and it's beautiful. Voices singing in the streets and stories being told to showcase lives and experiences that educate and raise awareness to the injustices of the world. What a beautiful, groundbreaking time of change.

With all this going on, I can't help but feel like I should be quiet. Should: a word my therapist and I are working on using less. So many voices in the world NEED to be heard right now. Why should I talk? People are dying of Covid every day, Breonna Taylor's killers still have not been arrested, and there is so much soul crushing uncertainty going on in the world, who the hell needs me to tell them stupid jokes? I guess there is a little hint of unworthiness and my issues with self esteem sprinkled in there as well.

Catharsis is defined as: the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. As an actor and comedian, catharsis is my bread and butter, I suppose. It's my job to get you to a point of feeling, changing your opinion and mindset, and educating you with these bits of life that I am sharing with you. I have to remind myself that catharsis is what a lot of people are experiencing right now. I have to remind myself that it's my job to continue to carry out the message and to continue fighting social justice everyday as an artist and individual.

Have you ever had the worst day ever and you're crying your eyes out and I don't know, your dog farts and it makes you laugh so hard you start crying from laughing? Feeling your absolute worst, but something funny happens that makes you laugh? That's also catharsis. That's another reason I have to remind myself why this work is important. My grandma used to watch Three Stooges during her Dementia fits and it would calm her down. That's what I need to continue to do. Yes, the world feels like it's in shambles. But you know what? A little laughter in the midst of chaos can be great. I am the court jester, and the court jester's job doesn't go away because there's a plague outside. Hannah Gadsby has this quote that I think sums it up fantastically: "Laughter is not our medicine. Stories hold our cure. Laughter is just the honey that sweetens the bitter medicine."

Something I always say is to embrace your skill or your talent and use it as your super power. For me, it's art. I can use my creativity in acting and comedy as my super power. This can show up in many ways, and I think about it constantly. And... simply put... I use my super powers to defeat the bad guys. Haha, it sounds silly at first, but it actually really helps me in the way I think. However way possible in whatever means possible. Find your super power and use it.

Art IS social justice. We've seen it time and time again in the past. Art creates change, art reflects experience and humanity, art captures feelings and gives them an outlet to run into the open. I need to continue to make art if I want to continue to inspire and create change.

The world is in a tough spot. But I have a voice. And I DO need to use my voice to amplify the voices of others. Staying silent isn't the way to handle what is going on.

| “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.” -Toni Cade Bambara


Ashley Rapuano | Actor/Producer

Ashley Rapuano (she/her/hers) is an actor and comedian based in Los Angeles. With compassion and charisma, she transforms people's perspectives by taking them on an adventure within themselves, others, and the world. She recently moved to LA from New York City, where she wrote and produced her one woman show "Lessons With Lola" about her Filipino grandmother with Dementia, studied and performed comedy at The People's Improv Theater and Upright Citizens Brigade, studied at HB Studio, and starred in several short films currently in festival submission. Ashley believes in equality and human rights, sustainability, Dementia awareness, animal rights, healthy living and is proudly vegan & cruelty free. Social justice is very important to her and she strongly believes in using art to amplify voices.
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