Stories

IGNITING THE FIRE

Sammi, 29, on using comedy to navigate NYC and showcasing the battle over women’s bodies.

I moved to New York from London in September 2016, where I witnessed how everything in America was changing politically. It was a scary reality to see the way women were treated in a different country. It didn’t necessarily have to translate into actions — it was the way women were being talked about, like they were objects and their bodies were under scrutiny. Everything was ultimately dictated by a man’s opinion.

At the time I came to the city, I was continuing my acting career and going from one audition to another. It was such a tough process. I finally decided that if it wasn’t going to happen, I was going to make it happen. A combination of being someone new in the city pursuing theater and the political climate inspired me to write.

Being a big fan of the book and the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale, I realized I wanted to adapt a musical parody of the story that paralleled with the reality of present day. Though the TV show is about a dystopian America, everything in the book is relevant to something happening at some point in some part of our world.

It almost makes sense to laugh it off, but also create a line of communication where people can be inspired to do something about it. That is why much of the show relies on dark humor and black comedy. In fact, the Little Mermaid’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” song was the first piece that inspired me to create the show.

I hadn’t ever written a show, but I found comedy to be a way to deal with the most difficult situations. Stress is always handled in a flight or fight mode. I remember when I was growing up my mom told me that “when life throws you lemons, you gotta deal with it because it doesn’t stop.” I don’t know if it’s the healthiest approach, but you need to learn to make the time.

I have been juggling a lot — it came down to time management and priorities. The last three months, I needed to focus on renewing my visa and getting back into the country. The uncertainty of not knowing where I would be was stressful, and my mental being needed to cope with getting back to NYC. In the process, I learned how to delegate and the importance of having a team.

Living in our 20s is an interesting ride. There are always highs and lows, but that’s what makes it even more real. This experience has opened my eyes to the world. We can all get stuck in what we know and what we are comfortable with — it’s rejuvenating creating a space and a voice that can kickstart change.

There is a fire burning inside of me. Maybe it has always been there, but now it’s ignited.

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