Nasty Women of New York : Bligh
Actress. Singer. Writer.
New Yorker. Activist. Feminist. Friend.
Meet Bligh. She is smart, kind, powerful, strong, talented, loyal, laugh out loud funny,
When she isn't being hired by every regional theater in America to play Dyanne in Million Dollar Quartet, she is chartering buses for scores of women to travel and march for equality in Washington D.C. In her spare time she writes a fantastic blog called Avocados are for Rich People.
What's your favorite part of being a woman?
Bligh : Oh lord. All of it. Can I say all of it?
I have, as I've gotten a bit older, started loving my body again. The last time I loved my body this much was when I was playing basketball and swimming, in the first years of high school. My basketball career ended when my coach told me I sang the national anthem better than I played. I fouled out most games. She was totally right.
I started kick boxing recently. It's nice to hit something you can't get in trouble for hitting:)
One time at an audition someone said to me, "You are very girly to look at but you pack a man punch." Not sure this was meant as a complete compliment but I take it as one! I take it as, comfortable in their own skin, comfortable being feminine and also comfortable being assertive. I know what I want.
I don't think my body is perfect. But I have long legs and terrific boobs. I wear clothes now that show off the parts of me that I feel good about. I don't really give a fuck if someone thinks it's provocative. It is possible to be stereotypically feminine and masculine at the same time and there's a lot of power in owning that.
What makes you feel powerful?
Bligh : I feel powerful in a group of women. I am incredibly lucky, I have the most badass set of female friends. I have two best girlfriends from middle school and a core group of incredibly supportive women friends from college. They hold me accountable and we build each other up. Fuck, I'm best friends with a woman who happened to date the same man as me, at the same time. We didn't know this was happening obviously.
I have a mother and two extra mothers, my aunts, who constantly reiterated that I was pretty but, more importantly, I was smart. I was not allowed to say I wasn't good at math, I wasn't allowed to say anything was "for boys." In some ways they instilled in me this belief that I was the same as any man, that I deserved to (and would be) treated the same. This isn't the truth, I know that now, but I'm stubborn and I sometimes think my steadfast belief that this is true keeps me moving forward with purpose.
What post-election issues are most important to you?
Bligh : I don't know if it's possible to pick one. I'm serious. I'm overwhelmed with what needs to be prioritized right now, post election. It's impossible for me not to be hyper focused on the amount of white women that voted for Trump. Void of direct finger pointing, which I have no more time to exert my energy towards, I find these statistics most baffling. But I'm trying to turn my anger into knowledge and action.
I've read stats saying over 97% of black educated women voted for Hillary Clinton. 95% of non college educated black Women voted for Hillary Clinton. So, what happened with my demographic? I've realized I have been accidentally exclusive with my idea of feminism. I've ostracized black feminists. In a big, embarrassing way. So currently my priority is to create a talking circle type forum that will initiate knowledge and conversation between feminist women of color and white feminists. I think it's the crux of growth and action over the next few years. I have a lot to learn and it starts with shutting up and listening.
If you could have dinner with anyone alive or deceased who would it be and why?
Bligh : I'm not picking one because, fuck rules. I want to have a dinner party with Kay Thompson, Dolly Parton, Gustav Klimt, Sylvia Beach, Nina Simone, and my grandpa. I don't think anyone would get along for long, those are the best kind of parties.
How do you lift up other women?
Bligh : I have struggled with this. "Comparison is the mother-fucking thief of joy." Theodore Roosevelt said that, I added the mother-fucking bit. But it's true. I spent a lot of wasted time comparing myself to other women, and thinking they were harboring ill will towards my success. Absolutely stupid. Now, I try to listen more than I talk. That's the first thing. I try and ask more questions and let women in my life (and new friends or acquaintances) know that I hear them and that I think they are valuable. That's the kind of courtesy I always hope is shown to me, so I give it out first.
I want my female friends to feel supported always. I support their business, their events, their creativity. I go to their shows, I read their work, I give help when it's asked of me. When I'm not working myself, I literally help raise their children!
What are you reading right now?
Bligh : I just finished "Swing Time" the new Zadie Smith, which I was not a fan of, and I read "Big Little Lies" in one sitting on my six hour plane trip back from Paris.
I always have a few books downloaded on my phone (now I'm on to "Wishful Drinking" Carrie Fisher because I'm a lazy bum for not reading it years ago!) and a few books next to my bed.
My bed books are currently "Lady in Gold" by Anne-Marie O'Conner (slowly making my way thru this one, Nazi occupied Austria was hitting a little too close to home there...), and "Antwerp" by Robert Bolãno, and "We Should All Be Feminists" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which was gifted to me by this really talented photographer I know named Michelle Kinney. **wink wink**
I always know when I'm depressed when I'm not reading. It is so so so important to read. Read fucking anything, keep your brain alive. Every time I'm not reading, something is seriously off with my life. Honest to god, my favorite "hurts so good" feeling is finishing a terrific book that was so damn good you're pained it's done.
What's one thing you want people to know about you?
Bligh : I love men. I really do. I love love love men. I love men's bodies, I love how they think differently from women, I love that they can grow hair on their face. I LOVE men with beards!
Just because I am a feminist does not mean I hate men. I want that to be made very clear because I find it incredibly frustrating when people tell me I'm not giving men a fair chance, or that I hate men. It is, in fact, possible to love and support men and call oneself a feminist. Everyone should be a feminist. And I think, one day, everyone will be. I have to keep idyllically believing statements like that. That's what keeps me from thinking about risk or failure. It keeps me on the path of simply doing the next thing.