July 30, 2016
No one understands the power of telling your own story more than African Artists Association member Jozanne Marie. Years ago, she decided to take a brief break from acting in order to focus her attention on writing the story of her life. Her efforts resulted in a remarkable one woman show called Beautiful, which lays bare the story of abuse she experienced in her youth. She describes it as “a play about a girl, an island and a secret. It’s a coming of age story about bravery, resilience and redemption.” The solo play has gone on to win an NAACP Award and allowed Marie to come into her own as a poet and women’s advocate.
What finally gave you the courage to write Beautiful?
I came to a place in my life where I understood that I did not have to make a tragic event the entire story of my life. With prayer and healing, as well as the encouragement of others, I decided to take responsibility for my own choices. Silence was not an option.
Where have you taken this play so far?
We started off with the world premiere at The Los Angeles Theater Center, produced by The Latina Theater Company and directed by Geoff Rivas. After a 5 week run in LA, we were off to Philadelphia and Atlanta. Beautiful has also been presented at churches and colleges here in California.
The most recent show we had was in Montreal. Fashion consultant, Andrea Hall was invited to see the play in LA earlier this year. She was so moved after watching it that she wanted the Montreal audience to experience it as well. One phone call to producer Aisha Delpeche and we were standing in front of a full house in Canada.
Where do you dream of taking it next and why?
London would be great and definitely South Africa. Truthfully, anywhere around the world; we are open to sharing the message. This way we can create more social change where it pertains to women and their freedom when violated.
What do you think people will take away from it? What do you want them to leave with?
Beautiful is a universal story that EVERYONE can identify with. I can safely say that most of our audiences have left the show inspired and empowered to live their lives in spite of their past. People most times walk away with an increased sense of faith and hope. Since the play focuses on sexual abuse, I want my audience to walk away inspired and motivated to take action on behalf of the 1 in 6 women in America who has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime and the 120 million girls who have been violated worldwide.
What are some of the most surprising reactions you’ve gotten from people who’ve watched the show?
Most people are surprised that I experienced these things. I had a friend who was so speechless, she could not talk to me until the next day when she had a chance to process it all. Sometimes people cry, but what I love the most is when people begin to share their own secret with me personally or with the entire room.
Where can people follow you to learn more about what you’re doing next?
We have some amazing things coming up. Recently, I finished writing a book that I believe will change everyone who reads it. It will be released early 2017. I’m also getting ready for my next solo play and an upcoming feature film. People can visit my website at www.jozannemarie.com or follow my Twitter and Instagram handles.
– The African Artists’ Association Staff Writer