Jasika Nicole and Creative Liberation

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Find out more about Jasika Nicole!

Her Entertainment Weekly piece on why she will no longer play roles on cop TV shows

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Lisa Woolfork 0:17

Hello stitchers, welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast, with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Transition Music 0:41

*plays*

Lisa 0:52

Hello everyone and welcome! This is a super special episode of the Stitch Please podcast. As you know, all of the episodes are special. And today's is especially so; I am so glad to bring together this Juneteenth month-long celebration of creative liberation and creating liberation with Jasika Nicole. Now let me ask you something - have you ever met anybody, besides me, who was good at everything? Now is your chance to meet another person, besides myself, who is good at everything, because we are talking with Jasika Nicole who has managed to not only have an acting career starting from a very young age, she also paints, sews, make shoes. She... does pottery. She is a fierce advocate for liberation, and justice. And I am so honored to be a- and she was like on my, on my list of dream episode guests. I wrote it in my journal, that in 2021 that I would talk to her, and I- she was doing an interview with something, she was talking about her new show, the Punky Brewster reboot that she is in, this new show. And I was like, "hey, that's really exciting. But let me ask you something, can I ask you something? You come on my podcast real quick?" And she was like, "okay!" And I was like, *excited scream* So, very exciting. Welcome, Jasika. We are so glad to have you. Thank you for being there.

Jasika Nicole 2:28

Thank you! I am thrilled to be here. Can I just say a few words? Um, number one, I do not play sports. So, when people say "what can't you do?" - there's lots of things I can't do, but playing sports is, like, a big one. Don't throw a ball at me. Do not throw a ball at me. Um, and secondly, I just want everybody to know that among on the list of things that I can do, uh, one of them, apparently, is cut my hair and I cut my own, my own bangs last week, and each day has been a new journey into what-

Lisa 2:52

*chuckles*

Jasika 2:49

-is happening today. So I just went with it 'cause I didn't realize we were going to be recording this for Patreon, which is totally cool.

Lisa 3:04

It looks good! It looks good!

Jasika 3:10

But like, I had a Farrah Fawcett just about 10 minutes ago, and like had a whole, had a whole, like zip code of bang on this head. And now I'm sharing it with all of your lovely supporters and listeners. So, I'm very happy to be here.

Lisa 3:23

Well, and this is why if you are not a Patreon supporter, why are you not?$ It's only two dollars for a whole month, if it breaks down, and y'all know I'm not good at math, it's like pennies a day.

Jasika 3:26

*laughs*

Lisa 3:26

And as you know, what I am offering is worth way more than $2 a month and to see Jasika's bangs -

Jasika 3:43

*giggles*

Lisa 3:44

- something that you are going to wish you had eyes on. So, I'm just saying this is real life FOMO happening right now that you are, um, that you are being brought through. So, if you want to see for yourself, I think she did a good job, you know.

Jasika 3:59

*laughs*

Lisa 4:00

That's what happens when you're a free person with free hair.

Jasika 4:03

It's true.

Lisa 4:03

Your hair's like, "I don't wanna go that way. I want to go another way."

Jasika 4:07

It's true. It's so true. And I actually, I do love the bangs. This is the first time that I've worn them straight and so I just have a real Lisa Turtle from "Saved by the Bell" thing-

Lisa 4:16

Yeah.

Jasika 4:17

-happening and I just didn't expect it really, truly, each morning is just a delightful entrance into the world of having hair on your forehead.

Lisa 4:27

I, I, I respect that. And um, I celebrate.

Jasika 4:33

*giggles* Thank you.

Lisa 4:34

I respect and celebrate. I really do.

Jasika 4:35

Thank you, I feel seen. Thank you. *laughs*

Lisa 4:39

One of the reasons I wanted to, um, to invite you to the program, especially for June and for Juneteenth, is because I've been thinking a lot about creative liberation. I've been thinking a lot about what does it mean for, for Black women to seize up, to take up the mantle to find ways to free ourselves? Um, and what does it- And, and how that's something that gets renewed every single day. And I tend to think about this as a practice. And so, I'm thinking about the practice of creative liberation. And I think you do that so beautifully, in so many aspects, that I have seen, at least, from your, from your work in general. And I just think that you're such a wonderful person to talk to about this. Let me ask you, does the phrase "creative liberation" mean anything to you? Do you have, if you were to describe your own process as creative liberation? Is there anything you could, like, point to in your own work that reflects that idea?

Jasika 5:39

Um, I would say that it means everything to me and I think that my understanding of what creative liberation looks like is constantly expanding. I think it means something different to me than it did a year ago, and the year before that, and five years before that. Um, I have found so much power, and even solace, I would say, in being able to be at the helm of what I bring into the world. So, as somebody who was an actor, I'm a professional actor, and I've worked in television and film for decades at this point, and I think that, you know, most people think of the performing arts as a form of artistry, you know, the actors are artists-

Lisa 6:17

Of course, yeah.

Jasika 6:18

-no matter where they're acting, but I will tell you that television and film, uh, really destroys the creative process of an actor in ways that I was not prepared for, until I was thrust into the environment of a production.

Lisa 6:33

*quietly* Yep.

Jasika 6:34

And, um, you know, I understand it, I get it; television and film, it's different than stage, you are but a cog in a very large wheel, um, a piece of machine that you, you can't see all the ways that it's working together, because a lot of it isn't in front of your face.

Lisa 6:52

Yeah.

Jasika 6:52

So, as a television and film actor, you know, unless you're producing or unless you're like a huge star, you're showing up to do your job, you're showing up to do your work, and then you are leaving. And, uh, as much as I appreciate so many aspects of my career, I have to tell you that I have, uh, never felt incredibly fulfilled artistically, in the work that I do, unless I'm creating something with my friends.

Lisa 7:17

Yeah.

Jasika 7:17

Um, you know, independent cinema is a really great outlet for just making up what you want, and having a good time. But in terms of like network, and big production, television and stuff, it's just not there.

Lisa 7:27

Mm-hm.

Jasika 7:28

And so over the years, I think that my other creative muscles have grown and gotten so much stronger, because I do still need that outlet. I don't like showing up to work every day, saying these exact lines, having ideas, having opinions that nobody's interested in, in hearing or-

Lisa 7:47

Right?

Jasika 7:47

-you know, in, in, uh bringing into the actual work that we're doing. And, um, again, you know, I, I understand that, that television is a massive thing to produce. But that doesn't mean that, you know, my creativity shouldn't have any space to go. And so I think that because of that, over the years, my own interest in being my own boss, in not having to collaborate with anybody but myself-

Lisa 8:13

That's right.

Jasika 8:13

-and me saying, "it's finished," or "it's not finished, keep on working on it, you can do better"- whatever it is, it's so empowering to be able to, uh, *sigh* to envision in your own head and bring it out into the world for the good of no one else but you. Like, you know that the stuff that I make and create, yes, I love to sew clothes, and I do love to share it on Instagram, but I would still be doing it if social media didn't exist, you know, it-

Lisa 8:41

*agreeing*

Jasika 8:41

-it fulfills something deep inside of me that is really important. So that, that freedom, I think, that liberation that comes with, with what you create has been, um, like an opposing force in the actual career that I have. And honestly, it really balances it out - I don't think that I could do either of the things that I do, like, the work that I do, or have the hobbies that I do if the other, you know, point wasn't, wasn't there to balance it out.

Lisa 9:10

Yeah.

Jasika 9:11

And, um, and in addition to that, that's one part of creative liberation, but I think that, as a Black woman, specifically, I just grew up thinking that there was only a handful of ways to be Black, because that is what media showed us. They showed us one blank type of person on TV, and we read about one supporting kind of person in books, and we read about this kind of Black person in movies. And we all knew that we were so much more expansive than that. And so now as an adult, I feel like I'm able to just... live how I want and not try and fit anybody else's idea or narrative of what it is to be a Black woman.

Lisa 9:58

Yeah.

Jasika 9:59

Um, sometimes, fitting into these stereotypes that have been existing for long before I've been born, like I have been an angry Black woman before and I will continue to be an angry Black woman, but-

Lisa 10:10

As a Black w-

Jasika 10:11

I am not always an angry- *laughs*

Lisa 10:12

As I implore Black people, you all have things in this country to be angry about-

Jasika 10:16

-to be angry about!

Lisa 10:17

If you have never, I don't know, read a history book, or, I don't know, watched anything, anywhere.

Jasika 10:24

Oh-

Lisa 10:25

Yes, this idea that somehow our anger is unusual and extreme and out of proportion, like racism?

Jasika 10:30

Yes.

Lisa 10:31

That's just racist.

Jasika 10:33

All, like, all, everything that you've said, all of that is true; we can be all these, you know, we can have all these commonalities in being Black, and we can also spread out beyond them. And I just, you know, I think a lot about growing up and I lived in a mostly white neighborhood, went to a mostly white school. And, you know, everybody that I went to school with were like, you know, you, you talk so white, or what, you know, you don't seem Bl- Black, but whatever it is, I really had to grow up and unpack that stuff and be like, "no, you don't get to tell me how to define my Blackness", and-

Lisa 11:08

That's right.

Jasika 11:09

Um, what, what it is that makes me who I am and, and the ways in which I do connect to my community and the ways in which I'm like, man, you know, we all have jokes where we're like, they took my Black card away for that one, I sure did go to that Whitesnake concert-

Lisa 11:22

*laughing*

Jasika 11:22

-what, whatever it is, that is the beauty of, of, of Black culture is that it is so vast, and you can't put it into one-

Lisa 11:30

And it's elastic.

Jasika 11:32

It absolutely, it is ever changing. It is, um, much like humans in general and language, like it is something that is constantly evolving; we are never static. And that is something that is so exciting about, you know, I would venture to say, you know, um, communities of color across the board, they're just, there's- there's a magic in, um, being able to exist with a group of people and also shine outside of that-

Lisa 12:03

*softly* Yes.

Jasika 12:03

-group of people, too.

Lisa 12:04

Yeah, that's cool.

Jasika 12:05

And, um, I guess the liberation that I feel is giving myself permission to explore all the different parts of who I am, and not feel like it needs to, to settle into some nicely packaged idea of what a woman is supposed to be, or a queer person's supposed to be-

Lisa 12:23

*quietly* -supposed to be.

Jasika 12:23

-or a Black woman, like whatever it is.

Lisa 12:26

Exactly. And, I, and so there's so much beauty and truth in what you just said, and what you've made us, re-, re- but what you've made me realize is that Hollywood, though there's a lot of romance built up around the idea of Hollywood and the Hollywood industry - it's an institution. And institutions-

Jasika 12:47

*giggling*

Lisa 12:47

-are not designed to protect people; institutions are designed to protect themselves.

Jasika 12:52

Yes.

Lisa 12:52

And so in the same way that, you know, anyone else who might have to go to a corporate job, or to a job at a school or a university or at a grocery store, or whatever, there are systems in place that are very rigid, and very difficult to change. And so that was something that I was really struck by and that, that even though we might think, oh my gosh, this is so glamorous, you know, to do this work and to meet new people and to create something that's so beautiful and permanent and, or seems permanent, you know-

Jasika 13:24

*agreeing*

Lisa 13:24

-because watching on television, you know, but there's also a lot of precarity in that as well. In addition to sometimes you have to eat shit - it feels that way. And so I was thinking about an article that I read in the New York Times, um, back in, I think it was two thousand-, I think it was maybe back in 2017 or 2010 and you were quoted in it; it was about queer, being queer and out in Hollywood and how that was challenging. And, um, I mean it was, it was recent, I couldn't believe that this was a conversation that would happen in Hollywood that you could be, um, maybe, uh, I don't know, I guess I wouldn't say the word, like banned or anything, but you could face negative consequences, like casting directors don't want to hire Black folks, or this, this person doesn't want to, um, put you up if they, if everyone knows that, th-that you are a lesbian or a queer person-

Jasika 14:16

Mm-hm.

Lisa 14:16

-like, you might miss this role. And it feels to me like that Hollywood seems to have and has always had like, tons and tons and tons of queer people and gay people in there. And I'm like, why is this somehow... this way? It feels of all the industries and of all the institutions that would be more forward thinking and progressive, it would be Holly-Hollywood-

Jasika 14:40

You would think. But it's not. *laughs*

Lisa 14:43

-but it's not. But it's not, like, it's just, it's racist. It's really racist, even though they're-

Jasika 14:48

-misogynist, transphobic, mm-hm.

Lisa 14:48

-making products, racist, misogynist, transphobic, um, homophobic and it's just incredible because there might be some beautiful products that emerge from that/this - oh, wow, this is really great and forward-thinking and amazing. But then I guess there's a huge story of struggle, about how that even was allowed to get produced, you know-

Jasika 15:08

Mm-hm.

Lisa 15:08

-so, so have you found any type of, in your time in the industry, any type, has that changed or relaxed in any way that, since people are talking about it? Or, is it pretty much consistent - that this has been a challenge for different- that this feels challenging for different folks who might be marginalized in a variety of ways?

Jasika 15:30

Um, one thing that I have learned in my career is that I can't ever look for any institution for freedom that doesn't have people like me at the helm at the charge of it. So until, you know, there are people of color, and there are women of color, and they're queer people and disabled people and trans people who are making the decisions. And I don't mean, a writer's assistant in the writers' room, I'm talking about people, not, not the PAs, the actual people who are making the decisions of what audiences are going to see, what these networks are going to pour their money into; until those people are representative of our, uh, community at large, it's not, it's not going to happen. And that isn't to say that this work isn't important or significant.

Lisa 16:24

Of course.

Jasika 16:24

Because I, I know that it is because it would have been important and significant to me as a kid to see somebody that looked like me-

Lisa 16:33

*quietly* Yeah, yeah.

Jasika 16:33

-on television, or any Black woman who isn't getting arrested, or, who, um, isn't trying to, um, raise a family on her own because her husband has been incarcerated. And I'm not saying that those stories don't deserve space-

Lisa 16:52

*quietly* No, no, no.

Jasika 16:52

-'cause they absolutely do. You know, like, that's all a part of our experience. But again, it's, it's, um, it's this narrow scope of it-

Lisa 17:00

-very narrow scope.

Jasika 17:01

-where we're not expanding beyond that.

Lisa 17:03

*quietly* Yeah, yeah.

Jasika 17:03

And so, *sigh* it is difficult for me to say that things have changed significantly. Of course, somebody who looks like me 30 years ago can probably say yes, things have gotten a lot better. *laughs* But I think it's going to take generations to really see and feel the impact of what is changing. And, um, for me, you know, I've been an actor in television and film for close to 20 years, like 15/20 years, something like that-

Lisa 17:35

*quietly* Mm-hm.

Jasika 17:35

-and this role on Punky Brewster is the very first time I have ever played a queer character. I have been out my whole career, I have been, I have never been, uh, secreted, secretive about, you know, my sexuality or my relationship. I've been with my partner for almost 15 years, they've been at every, you know, major red carpet function that I've been to in my career, because we met each other at the point where my career started to take off. So I have always been amazed that people weren't interested in, in actually putting one of the tiny handful of actual, out, queer Black actors in Hollywood in stuff. Like, it, it boggles my mind, and I cannot comprehend it. Now that is not to say, um, we- when we say "diversity," I think white people think we want to see a couple of brown skins, not too dark.

Lisa 18:31

Not that, light brown. Let's get some light brown, cream-colored.

Jasika 18:34

Light brown! Let's make it coffee-colored caramel, okay.

Lisa 18:37

Yeah. Little more, bit more milk in there, a little more milk.

Jasika 18:39

Abso- Just a little bit. *laughs* Let's not scare the audience away, okay?

Lisa 18:44

*chuckles* Right, oh right, she Black-Black.

Jasika 18:46

Right, Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, we leave that only for Zoe Saldana-

Lisa 18:52

Oh my god.

Jasika 18:52

-because she doesn't actually identify as Black, so. So, here's the thing. That's not how people who are actually a part of a marginalized community think of diversity. We think of, we think of diversity of thought, diversity of skin color, and, and gender and ability. I feel like we have such a broader idea of what diversifying a project actually, like, really, truly looks. And, um, man, I really lost my train of thought, I had something very good to say, too. *laughs*

Lisa 19:27

We're gonna come back to it, I believe it, because what you've identified is what Patricia Hill Collins, as a Black feminist theorist, has described as "controlling images". And these are these very narrow things that Black women or other marginalized folks get shunted into.

Jasika 19:40

Uh-huh.

Lisa 19:40

So you get an overrepresentation of these controlling images, and then anything that doesn't fit that is not seen as authentic. So, it becomes really dangerous, um, for, for that, and when that happens, it really does. And I just, I just think that... that the diversi- that diversity has become a word that I... hate. It really has, just because of the ways it has been, I think, drained by industries of what it really means.

Jasika 20:14

*agreeing*

Lisa 20:14

There are some industries who don't want to change. And yet, they can prop up "diversity" by keeping the same old structure they've always had, and then just throwing some marginalized people in it. And that doesn't change anything, but it makes them feel better. And the reason, I think, that you- what you're describing happens so often is because there are folks who don't- who care more about being called a racist than they do about doing racist shit.

Jasika 20:42

-doing actual racist stuff, yeah.

Lisa 20:44

Yeah, they don't- they- they're- they, they don't, being like they feel, you know, targeted or exposed or whatever. But when it comes down to the actual diversity, and 'cause there's so much diversity and beauty within Blackness, like within Black families-

Jasika 20:58

Yes.

Lisa 20:58

-there is diversity within the actual family, you know-

Jasika 21:03

Yeah.

Lisa 21:03

-because everybody has different thoughts or different approaches, and, you know, this person really, really hates bananas and this person, you know, there's all sorts of differences. It just becomes, I think, so watered down, and that it's become, I think, not as useful, and especially when things get weaponized, um, when diversity gets weaponized as an excuse for tokenism. And when you have folks who don't know the difference between diversity and tokenism?

Jasika 21:30

*quietly* Yup.

Lisa 21:31

Then you know, and then they're the ones that are in charge, you know, like, yeah.

Jasika 21:35

Absolutely. I was- I, I remember my train of thought, thank you very much, because you helped me find it. It was, uh, this, this idea that diversity, you know, is, is tokenism, that you just stick a couple people in there, or you write a couple of gay characters and that's it. And my idea of diversity is actually to have a, a beautiful script, well-written script, great characters for everybody, okay. And then you bring in this cast of people that can play all these roles, like I'm not saying that a queer person has to play every single role that's written for a queer person; gi- give 'em a straight role, get the- get the queer person a straight role and give the straight person the queer role. But give us both- give everybody the opportunities. That's what- Show me a disabled actor who isn't necessarily playing a disabled character, you can also show me a disabled actor who was playing a disabled character, but like, think outside of this, this narrative - that we are only our experience, that isn't what we want to do, I think we want to feel like we're having this collaborative process with each other and trying to find, like, the nuances of how to tell this story in a way that feels, um, both universal, where it feels, like, relatable, and also very truthful and honest to, to who each individual person is and what they're going through. And that's what I feel like Hollywood is lacking all the time because their main focus is making money, and they have decided what it is they think that viewers want to see, like, at this point, I don't even know who they're listening to anymore because all, all my people are like, "I want to see this kind of show and this kind of show and this kind of show," and yet, we're just getting the same stuff all the time. So is it that, you know, they think that they are giving the audience what they want to see? Or do- are they actually trying to basically, uh, tell us what it is that we want to see-

Lisa 23:32

*quietly* Yeah.

Jasika 23:32

-and spend all the money on the things that they want us to see and not put as much money into the other stuff that we might want to see, so that we're like, you know, the indie- the indie film circuit isn't very good, I'll go see that blockbuster movie starring the exact same actors that I've been seeing for the past 15 years.

Lisa 23:47

Right.

Jasika 23:47

It's just... it's this big ball of gunk, and it's so hard to pick it all the way apart, because there's so, there's so many pieces to it, but also to what you were saying earlier about, you know, we would expect for Hollywood to be this kind of beacon of progression and, and thoughtfulness and moving forward. If you really think about the history of Hollywood, they were spending so much money to make sure that nobody knew that such-and-such was gay, that such-and-such was in a relationship with this person, that such-and-such had a, a damn eating disorder, that they basically helped create for them, because they wanted them to be submissive. You know what I mean? Like, they, historically, Hollywood has never been on the right side. *laughs*

Lisa 24:33

That's so true, it's like even when you think about film theory, the first film was racist propaganda. Like, the Thomas Dixon "Clansman" was based on, you know, like, that "Birth of a Nation" was based on Thomas Dixon's "The Clan", "The "Clansman," which is a heroic story of the Klan, being heroes, and then was screened at the White House, we think about things like, you know, "Gone with the Wind,"-

Jasika 24:58

Yep.

Lisa 24:58

-and that racist propaganda and how it becomes this cinematic glory, blah, blah, blah. All of that's incredibly racist, like it is white supremacist propaganda.

Jasika 25:08

Absolutely.

Lisa 25:08

And so I don't know why I would look to that for liberation. And this is why I think it's so important that when you have the opportunity to create your own space, and to have your own creative outlet; when your- when your vocation, the job that you do for money, is very restrictive. You know, even though you get to express yourself, of course-

Jasika 25:31

Mm-hm.

Lisa 25:31

-but there's so many limitations. When you have your own space, I think that what you have done with it, and your platform-

Jasika 25:42

*chuckles*

Lisa 25:42

-is... staggering. And it is such a wonderful example, again, of creative liberation. Because what you have done is you have created a space that allows you to re- you set the parameters, and you're setting them in a way that is really free, you know, and free for you, to be free and to be safe. And that's something that I just, I really, absolutely admire that. I admire that on your profile at the top-

Jasika 26:15

*laughs*

Lisa 26:15

-it says "no unsolicited advice". I love that. So when someone's "Oh I suppose she cute, she got some nice outfit. Huh, no unsolicited advice... okay." Tell us a bit more about how that came to be, and why you find that important.

Jasika 26:33

Okay. So, uh, joining the online sewing community several years ago, it was a huge deal for me, um, because I think that I am most articulate when I'm writing. So any kind of online spaces, it's always how- like, it's how I met my partner, it's how I met so many of my friends, uh, through social media over the years, I'm talking about back in the day, like when I first moved to New York in 2003. And I would make friends on Craigslist, because it was so long ago that it wasn't dangerous like, *laughs* nobody-

Lisa 27:08

*laughs* Right? Like, you did it for true crimes.

Jasika 27:09

It's so true.

Lisa 27:10

It was, it was just like, you can actually meet a person who doesn't want to chop you up and put you in a pack-

Jasika 27:15

*quietly* I know.

Lisa 27:15

-you can meet people who wanted to hang out and do things.

Jasika 27:17

I know. And I feel so lucky, it was a small pocket of time, it was like a couple of years where, really the only people who knew how to use Craigslist, were, I want to say tech-savvy, tended to be on the younger side, like right out of college, familiar with Friendster and stuff like that. And so, that's just- online is just always how I've, uh, looked for and found community. Also, as an introvert, because hanging out in person is just a lot but I'll text ya all night long, girl.

Lisa 27:48

*chuckling*

Jasika 27:48

So finding the online sewing community, specifically, like through Instagram, and through sewing blogs, was just a really big deal for me; uh, we had just moved from Vancouver, where we had lived for four years, uh, on this show, that wasn't like, uh, a great show to be a part of. And really, *sigh* without going too far into it, it was a little bit, I don't think that people give enough credit, uh, for kind of like, uh, having healthy relationships with more abstract things, 'cause we think of abusive relationships with other people, but we can have abusive relationships with work-

Lisa 28:23

Oh, yeah.

Jasika 28:23

-with all sorts of things. So that was a- that was an abusive relationship in my life.

Lisa 28:28

*quietly* Ah.

Jasika 28:29

So coming out of it was really scary. I was, you know, all the things that you feel when you get out of a bad relationship, feeling insecure, not really understanding your value, not knowing what's- what's next.

Lisa 28:41

*quietly* Yeah.

Jasika 28:41

So I was coming off of that, when we moved from Vancouver to LA and so, uh, finding this online sewing community just was really, really important to me. And as I started to gain more followers and share more of what I was working on, I had an uptick in people writing to tell me about myself or what I had made. And I think that most makers and sewists and artists are at least a little bit familiar with, um, the very common practice of people who you don't know, or people you do know, reaching out to tell you that they don't like that color on you, or that you should have done it this way, or that that pattern actually doesn't work with those shoes. And it, it was such a sucker of joy; if I'm proud that I made something, there shouldn't be anything to keep me from feeling proud, but I'm just- I'm just sharing it. I'm basking in my own glory. It doesn't have to be your glory, doesn't have to be anybody else's glory.

Lisa 29:42

It has nothing to do with them.

Jasika 29:43

It doesn't have anything to do with anybody else. And so I got to a place where I was like, alright, um, this is making me not enjoy social media, and I really enjoy social media and I want to make it a safe space for me where I feel like I can come and be myself. And that doesn't mean everybody has to like me, 'cause I don't like everybody, so I don't assume everybody's gonna like me. But, I should be able to have the space to, to... create a world in which my needs are being met, and nobody is forced to be there. But I have a right to say "this is what I need from you, and you can either give me what I need or move on your way."

Transition Music 30:32

*plays*

Lisa 30:34

You're listening to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork, and we're talking today with Jasika as part of our month-long Juneteenth celebration of creative liberation. Stay tuned and we will be back with more from Jasika.

Transition Music 30:58

*plays*

Lisa 30:53

Black Women Stitch and the Stitch Please podcast are happy to announce that we have another way to connect with our community, in addition to the IG Lives that we do every Thursday at 3pm, we also now have a club on Clubhouse. That's right, friends, they done messed up and given me the chance to have a club! *trumpet fanfare*

Follow @blackwomenstitch on Instagram and now on Clubhouse, Thursdays at 3:00pm on Instagram, and 3:45pm on Clubhouse, Eastern Standard Time; it will help you get your stitch together.

Transition Music 31:31

*plays*

Lisa 31:39

Welcome back to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork, and we're talking today with Jasika Nicole on the subject of creative liberation. This is part of a larger conversation we're having the entire month of June, to celebrate Juneteenth, to recognize the creative ways in which Black people regularly liberate ourselves. So without further ado, here's more from Jasika Nicole.

Jasika 32:05

Essentially, it is all about boundaries. I try to be very open with, uh, with how I want people to interact with me on, on Instagram, because if I don't, it's not worth me staying. I don't want to be on there because people expect me to or because it's the thing you're supposed to do and it's really funny I'm saying this because I have a Twitter, and I hate Twitter. And I'm only on Twitter because as an actor, you're supposed to have a Twitter-

Lisa 32:32

*light chuckling*

Jasika 32:32

-so that you can, you know, share what you're doing. So, I'm being a little bit of a hypocrite right now by saying you know, you should do it. But, it really is, it-

Lisa 32:39

Twitter is for your work, and Instagram is for your spirit.

Jasika 32:42

That's so succinct.

Lisa 32:44

Yeah, Twitter is for work-

Jasika 32:45

*chuckling*

Lisa 32:45

-and Instagram is for your spirit.

Jasika 32:48

That is so succinct.

Lisa 32:49

If they don't like-

Jasika 32:50

I love that. You're absolutely right. Yes, Instagram is so happy for me, you know, not all the time, I occasionally have some some stuff that goes on. But for the most part, I would say it is just, um, good and fun and awesome. And so I started to, uh, share what it was that I did not like about unsolicited advice. And um, you know, basically saying it is, it is the thief of joy for you to, to... one, here... and, okay, let's really break it down real quick. When you give somebody unsolicited advice, you are making so many assumptions. You're, one - assuming that they want your advice, two - you're assuming that they haven't already tried the thing that you're suggesting. And three... I can't remember what the third one is-

Lisa 33:42

The third one is-

Jasika 33:42

-but the first two are really important *laughs*.

Lisa 33:44

The third one is - you're someone that you know what the fuck you're talking about.

Jasika 33:48

That's - oh my god, okay, thank you!

Lisa 33:49

*chuckling*

Jasika 33:49

That's the other one. Because, I, I promise you, if most of the, the unsolicited advice that we got was good, I don't think that most people would have a problem with it, you know what I mean?

Lisa 34:04

Yeah, yeah.

Jasika 34:05

But it's not - "99% of the time I already tried it didn't work", or "I know it's not going to work" or "that's not the thing that I want to do". Um, and I think that the other part that gets missing out of this is that a lot of makers, not all love 'em, some makers love unsolicited advice, and that's okay, you don't have to not like it. It's helpful to be clear about what it is that you want and don't want.

Lisa 34:26

You know what it reminds me that when you're talking about it in the way that it makes you feel? It's almost like, it's like, the- it's like street harassment of the internet.

Jasika 34:35

*laughs*

Lisa 34:35

We know, for example, when you're walking down the street, how often have I been able to say, "you know what? Some raggedy man rolled up on me in Kroger today and gave me some really excellent advice, like-

Jasika 34:47

*laughs* Never!

Lisa 34:48

- Yo, he made me feel really good about myself." Some, some people who do street harassment-

Jasika 34:53

Yes.

Lisa 34:54

-don't call it street harassment.

Jasika 34:55

Yep.

Lisa 34:56

They think it's a compliment, in the same way that people who send you unsolicited notes think that they're, they're teaching you something you don't know already. And it's different-

Jasika 35:06

Absolutely, oh my god.

Lisa 35:07

- if you're in community with someone, if you're in community with a group of friends, of course you want to know what they're saying, there's a lot of people on the internet-

Jasika 35:13

Yes.

Lisa 35:14

- and there's a lot of people who follow you on Instagram. And if all of them were just rolling in to say, "you know what? You might want to try-

Jasika 35:21

*laughs*

Lisa 35:21

- a little bit of a warmer color, because I'm not sure I like how this is working out on, I don't know, have you thought of that? Have you asked any other strangers?" That's, yeah, when you break it down, it really does make it clear how... there's a way to be in community with people.

Jasika 35:37

There absolutely is and I so appreciate you saying, like, I have friends, and they'll tell me shit all the time. And we'd laugh, you know what I mean like, there, there is a difference from getting, you know, some ideas from somebody that's like your home girl or whatever, or my partner, Claire, who has a lot - a lot of ideas all the time, which is totally fine-

Lisa 36:02

You're probably full up on ideas.

Jasika 36:03

Full up on ideas. Right.

Lisa 36:05

With their ideas, and your ideas, you're each full of ideas.

Jasika 36:09

Yes, absolutely. And then the other part of it is that, again, not all makers feel this way. But I am somebody who just relishes in the process: the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of it, there have been things and I was like, this took me two weeks to do. And I cannot believe it took me so long, and I was so sick of this project. But when it's done, I'm just thrilled, I don't want somebody to try and hand me all the answers. I love figuring that stuff out for myself. I love troubleshooting. I love doing something wrong and learning that that's why you don't do it that way. There's lots of tutorials in there - "don't do this" - and they don't always tell you why you don't do that. I love figuring out why. Because there's extra space in there. Like sometimes you figure out why and you know, alright, I'm not gonna do that, again, sometimes you figure out why. And something that you actually can do, that's a shortcut or something, whatever it is-

Lisa 37:03

*quietly* That's right.

Jasika 37:04

-it becomes you being the boss of, of what this journey is gonna look like. And I love that. And the other thing, and this is, like, bigger than the maker community, I would say, but, *sigh* just because somebody has a problem, that is not an invitation for other people to solve it. Now, a lot of times, I'll say, "Man, I'm having some real tough times with this one thing that I'm trying to figure out." It's a problem that needs to be solved, but I'm not sharing that because I want you to fix it. And if we think about it, beyond the scape of making, and we say, "Man, *sigh* I just... really so frustrated with my mom, and I can't get her to understand where I'm coming from, and blah, blah, blah." And you just want to share this with somebody. And their first reaction to that - "here's what you need to do, you need to blah, blah, blah." And now I also understand that that goes two ways, because not everybody wants somebody to come over and then for a full hour about every single thing that's going on in their life. So, you know, I think that's two-sided that people should be able to say, "Hey... I'm going through some stuff. Do you have the energy for me to share it with you and just listen to it?"

Lisa 38:23

*quietly agreeing*

Jasika 38:24

Or, "hey, I'm going through some stuff, I would love to hear your ideas, if you have any, on how I can fix it." You know, it's just, it's honestly, it's taking away the expectations that you have for each other, and being very clear and communicative from the very beginning.

Lisa 38:41

*agreeing*

Jasika 38:42

That's all it takes. So that's why I have the "no unsolicited advice," I want y'all to know this from the beginning that I am not interested in it. And... *takes a breath* it is... it's exhausting. It is exhausting, because a lot of people feel very defensive when you tell them that you don't want- oh my god. Oh, god.

Lisa 39:03

Hmm.

Jasika 39:03

I have been cussed out so many times for saying, "I know your intentions are good but I don't want unsolicited advice." "Well you didn't have to say it so mean and you didn't have to-" and I'm like-

Lisa 39:13

*small shriek*

Jasika 39:14

All right.

Lisa 39:15

There's no way- there's no good way to tell somebody something who is committed to misunderstanding.

Jasika 39:21

You are absolutely- and that's what I've had to learn, also, just know when the conversation is over. You can't- I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything. I do not have the time, I'm trying to get you to respect my boundaries. And if you can't do that, then you don't need to be following me and that's the end of it. It doesn't have to be a big dramatic thing.

Lisa 39:40

*agreeing*

Jasika 39:40

But I will say that even though I get regularly very defensive, upset people at my no solicit- no unsolicited advice thing, I get way more people that write me and say "I have not had examples of how to set boundaries in my life because my parents don't respect them or because my partner doesn't.." whatever it is... "and I am learning how to ask for what it is that I need." That's bigger than sewing, that's bigger than making- that's bigger than a DM on Instagram, that is literally creating, uh, a world that feels safe for you.

Lisa 40:17

*quietly* Yep, yeah.

Jasika 40:17

And you can ask somebody to respect your boundaries, and they might not do it. And then you have the decision or the choice to maintain a relationship with them or whatever.

Lisa 40:26

Exactly. And they have shown you what, who they are. ...You have valuable information from that, because that shows them more about them than it ever does about you.

Jasika 40:39

Yep, yep.

Lisa 40:40

You know, and that's one of the things I really admire about you being so, so forthright, and transparent and upfront. Because if the Instagram and the social media space is a space of joy, and play, and recreation for you, you cannot constantly be, you know, defending and push- you know what I mean, you can't poss- and you have to find a way to curate it in a way that works for you.

Jasika 41:09

*quietly* Mm-hm.

Lisa 41:09

And you also have a very specific set of values and principles that you believe in, and that reflect in the way you maintain your life and your social media space. And that is something also that is worthy of respect, and defense, and that it's a space that you have created to be free. And that's one of the things I think is so successful about it. And that, um, I think that me and many other people admire as well. Because in teaching people how to, how to treat you, in this space, you're helping other people learn how to erect those same things in their own lives. I think that often when you find somebody that has boundary issues, it's just as you said, they never- they don't have boundaries themselves, and they don't believe anybody else should have them, they don't respect their own boundaries. They don't even have them.

Jasika 42:04

Yes.

Lisa 42:04

And so when you run up against somebody who has one, it's "wait a minute, that's not right, you're supposed to say yes to everybody for everything, and always be on call."

Jasika 42:11

*quietly* Yes.

Lisa 42:11

And always be tired and exhausted and weary and confused and angry, and uncertain. You know, I mean, like, *laughs* just, oh, Lord I can't.

Jasika 42:22

Yes. And, you know, I don't think that it is an accident that it is happening in a realm of, I would say mostly women of- follow me, that's the majority of, of the people who are following me, and... having boundaries, uh, and sharing them with other people and, uh, you know, demanding that they be respected and acknowledged, that is just not something I would say that is generally taught to women in this particular culture.

Lisa 42:49

I agree.

Jasika 42:49

Uh, we are taught to appease people, to take care of everything, uh, and honestly, we are taught to problem-solve, I feel like-

Lisa 42:59

Yes.

Jasika 43:00

It is, it is, how do I say it, there's this culture of assuming that women will come in and fix everything-

Lisa 43:07

*agreeing*

Jasika 43:07

-that needs to be fixed, and that they do it behind the scenes and you don't even recognize that they're doing it. So this, this, uh, jump, this, like intuition that, that people have, that women specifically have in my DMs to like, show me how to fix something, I have to keep reminding myself that like, this is something that they have been taught; I was taught it too, I am- I have also been like an active problem solver and can't listen to anybody, I got to figure out how to make the hurt or the pain-

Lisa 43:35

*agreeing* Yep, you wanna fix it, you gotta fix it.

Jasika 43:36

-or the whatever go away, and it is- I just want to fix it, yes. And so it is a real, uh, intentional unlearning that I think that women have to do specifically to both recognize that it is totally, uh, acceptable for them to, to set boundaries with the people in their life that they love and with strangers alike, that is absolutely okay. And that it is not okay for you to say, "this is what I want" and somebody to say "no, that is not okay." *laughs* And we think that it is, I think what you said- you spoke to earlier about normalizing it. I do think that our "no's", *laughs* are, uh, it is normal to, to be like, "but..." and keep asking it, and ask it in another way or keep pushing it.

Lisa 44:22

*Agreeing* And, and this idea of "no meaning no," it's something that kind of, that was you know, became like a slogan, I think in the late '80s, trying to teach us about intimate partner violence and sexual violence-

Jasika 44:33

*agreeing*

Lisa 44:33

-and just how to help girls, you know, that girls had to be taught to say no, and that boys need to learn in this heterosexual context that, you know, intimate partner violence, that if a boy wants to and you do not, you say no.

Jasika 44:47

*agreeing*

Lisa 44:47

And they learn, we learn the danger in that.

Jasika 44:50

Yes.

Lisa 44:51

But we do not learn the danger, or do not learn that it's important to say no for any other-

Jasika 44:58

-in other aspects.

Lisa 44:59

-any other aspects, you know, and so it really does help me to think through this idea of, you know, that, *sigh* that there was so many times when girls and women are taught, like, how to avoid sexual assault by walking with your keys between your fingers like Wolverine, that we learn to defend ourselves in this way, when there are lots of other threats that are much more subtle and more likely to happen to us, than, you know, than this attack from a stranger, it's really attack from the culture itself, and recognizing-

Jasika 45:34

Yes.

Lisa 45:34

-that, recognizing the messages that you're getting on television and decoding those-

Jasika 45:38

*quietly* Yessss.

Lisa 45:38

-recognizing these messages that are constantly saying things about your, you know, unworthiness, and so- and so, I was asking earlier about the, the values. And um, I was, I wanted to mention the interview that I saw you with Sheen Magazine a couple of days ago, I think it was last week, um, you're talking with Sheen Magazine about the uh, the new role in Punky Brewster reboot. So hooray, hooray, exciting.

Jasika 46:01

*giggling*

Lisa 46:02

And you mentioned then, at that time, that you would not, um, that you would not take any more roles on police shows. Um, and I just want to know, if you went- if you could, if you could talk a little bit about that, a bit about what made you make that decision?

Jasika 46:21

So I wrote an op-ed piece for Entertainment Weekly dot com that came out last week, so if any of the listeners want to-

Lisa 46:29

I'll put a link in.

Jasika 46:30

-you know, dive in a little bit more-

Lisa 46:31

I'll put a link.

Jasika 46:31

-oh, thank you so much, that'd be great, so, uh, I-

Yeah I'll put a link to anything you want, so-

*laughs*

Lisa 46:35

I got your website, Instagram, you know, IMDb.

Jasika 46:39

Aw.

Lisa 46:39

You know, I'll- I'll put all that in.

Jasika 46:41

*quietly* Oh my gosh.

Lisa 46:42

But tell me about the EW article, so, yes.

Jasika 46:44

So um, you know, 2020 was, was a tough year. And I can't even say why it was so tough because there are so many things competing for the number one spot, but-

Lisa 46:58

This was a hard year for the Blacks.

Jasika 47:00

It was hard, it was tough.

Lisa 47:00

2020 was a hard year for the Blacks.

Jasika 47:02

It... like, *sigh* this, *sigh* - *soft laugh* it's so hard to articulate it, like, obviously-

Lisa 47:11

Let me try.

Jasika 47:12

-there is a terrible virus.

Lisa 47:13

Yes there is, let me try.

Jasika 47:13

Okay.

Lisa 47:14

We had a global pandemic-

Jasika 47:17

Mm-hm.

Lisa 47:17

-that changed absolutely everything and absolutely nothing.

Jasika 47:20

Mm-hm.

Lisa 47:21

We had a young man who was just minding his own business, um, trying to jog in his own- jog in a community adjacent to his or whatever, who was murdered by two white men, one of whom was a cop. We have Breonna Taylor, who was also murdered by police. We have George Floyd, also murdered by police. I am not gonna, I'm not gonna even try to say all the names, because it's not-

Jasika 47:49

You can't.

Lisa 47:50

-possible to do so. I don't have that list-

Jasika 47:52

*quietly* Yeah.

Lisa 47:52

-in front of me, but it is long and violent. And every single time it, it does something to me, it sends a message to every Black person in this country, I think, about what the value of our lives and our experiences are. Um, and it is- and to do this on top of the global pandemic, which is like, these two competing viruses, right?

Jasika 48:25

*small laugh* Yes.

Lisa 48:25

The virus of white supremacy or as Zadie Smith in her book, wrote in "Intimations," she says "contempt is the virus."

Jasika 48:33

Mmm.

Lisa 48:34

Right? So it's white supremacy, it's contempt. And then it's the actual virus and the uncertainty of this medical ri-. And so, it just felt like we were caught- we were caught between two pandemics.

Jasika 48:46

*pauses* That's exactly, um, what I really struggled with was, um, feeling so impotent, wanting to do, "what can I do, what can I do?" Um, it was really scary to go out to the marches. And I loved that there were marches and that there were these protests. And I hated the fact that every single person had to have this really, you know, scary conversation with themselves, "am I gonna put myself at risk to stand up for my community and go out there and show support and solidarity? Which is more important?" It would depend on the day. Um, we went, you know, we went to, uh, marches here in Los Angeles, my partner, uh, is immune, uh, immune-compromised, and so it would just- and they came too, we, we went out there and we were masked up but there was just no easy decision-

Lisa 49:40

*Quietly* No.

Jasika 49:40

-to make and that made you feel even more, uh, without power. And so, um, you know, I write in the article how- we are, we're sharing the hashtags. We are donating to the political candidates that we think are going to bring about change. We are donating to GoFund Mes. Um, we are trying to get the word out, we're sharing books, we're sharing, uh, information with each other, we're doing as- that is like the most work that I felt like I could do-

Lisa 50:12

*agreeing*

Jasika 50:12

-was with my fingers and with the, with the device in my hands. And, um, you know, all the while, acting like everything is still normal, like, still doing auditions. I don't know when they're going to be filmed, but I'm going to sit this audition, you know, it's this, *sigh* it's this need for people to try and keep things as, as if they are normal and, and maintain the status quo while everything is literally falling apart around us. And so I had this audition, and it was for, um, what I'm sure will be a really ridiculous show, but um, you know, it seemed fun. I was like, "yeah, I'll go in for this, this could be really fun." And I realized what a disconnect it was for me to be going in- er, uh, not going in, self-taping, I'm here in my house just taping this audition with my partner for this police officer; I go in for police officers all the time. That's like my fantasy world. It was almost like my career. And, you know, in some aspects, being an actor in television is a fantasy - you're, you're, you're not, you know, it's not real-

Lisa 51:15

*quietly* Yeah.

Jasika 51:15

-you're portraying a, a narrative, a story. But then how do I sit with this... idea of putting myself on a television show to play a cop? And this reality where I'm trying to educate myself about abolition, abolition, defunding the police, uh completely getting rid of our criminal justice system, so we can put something else in its place that is, um, *laughs* not so biased against people of color and Black people, specifically. There is no... I can't speak for all artists, but I can't separate the stuff that I am a part of, from who I am in my regular life. And I think at some point in my career, I had a realization that... I am not... I'm not the work that I do; I have to have value outside of this work that I do. Who am I if I don't have this job anymore? Who am I if I never get cast? Who am I, just in the bed at night about to fall asleep? Who knows if Imma wake up tomorrow, because nobody's day is promised, ever? Who- who am I outside of that? And Hollywood is built up so that we really put, you know, all these people on a pedestal and we, you know, we, we, we fantasize about how amazing and great they are and it takes away their humanity. And how did- how do we infuse our own humanity in ourselves again, in this specific line of work? Like, it's just a lot of questions, and I don't have all the answers to the questions. I'm good at asking questions-

Lisa 52:53

*chuckles*

Jasika 52:53

-not great at answering them. But I knew, and I said to Claire, at the time, I was filming the audition and I was like, I shouldn't- I shouldn't be doing this. And they didn't even hesitate, they were like, "maybe you shouldn't." *laughs* Like, it was not, you know, it was nothing. And, and so I just made the decision there, um, I had already sent this, this tape in and I was like, "it's fine, I'm not gonna get it anyway." Um, but how, how do I move forward with intention? Like how do I... *pause* how do I feel empowered? And this article came out, and I cannot tell you how much hate-

Lisa 53:32

*quietly* Oh, oh.

Jasika 53:32

-hate-mail and hate comments that I've received from all these people, which is to be expected. And honestly, the stakes for me are very low. I know that there are activists out there who are doing really big things who are getting death threats all the time. So I don't want to put myself in that camp. But I do want to acknowledge that it is not easy to... *6-second pause* to... *laughs* how do I say this - to, to be yourself unapologetically, um, and, and always get rewarded for it. I feel reward for my community and the people that are close to me, but *sigh* I- it is so wild to be in this place, right now, that we are in today, in this culture, in this country, in this world and have people making fun of you for saying I am an abolitionist-

Lisa 54:29

Oh.

Jasika 54:29

-knowing that hundreds of years ago, people were also making fun of, of the people who were trying to abolish slavery and they were just like, "ye- that is, lololol hysterical - it's never gonna happen, what are you thinking? What *stumbles over words* are you- like, are you seriously mentally ill to actually think that could be-?" People were saying that! And here we are again today repeating the same thing-

Lisa 54:56

Uh-huh.

Jasika 54:56

-and all these people-

Lisa 54:57

It's a people, though.

Jasika 54:57

-are like "defund the police?" It is, it absolutely-

Lisa 55:01

Yes, yes.

Jasika 55:01

-is. I do not want to be on the wrong fucking side of history. I don't give a shit if you like it.

Lisa 55:09

*laughs*

Jasika 55:10

Because here's the thing, I guess that the, the risk is that "okay, maybe I'll never work again" - 15 years ago, that might have been something that was terrifying to me, I do not fucking care, I will always be smart and talented and be able to take care of myself, I don't have to have Hollywood to do that. I love it. I love acting, and I would be really bummed-

Lisa 55:32

And you're good at it, let's just add that.

Jasika 55:33

-if like, I wouldn't be able to do it anymore.

Lisa 55:34

You're also good at it. So, it's not like, you're like, "oh, she 'ight." No, no, no. We're good at it.

Jasika 55:39

*laughs*

But we have to, we have to figure out what our value is outside of the thing that, uh, capitalism tells us is, is, is our value.

Lisa 55:51

That's right.

Jasika 55:51

And that- that's a struggle. And it's not, it's not easy, you know, I, I recognize that it's not easy for everybody to do that, it hasn't been easy for me to do it. But I don't think that we can ever fully show up for each other if we are always putting things like money and fame, and, and attention as a priority in our lives. Like I still want to be the same Jasika whether Instagram exists or not. *chuckles*

Lisa 56:17

Yes, exactly, exactly. And, when you say that, you know, how rare it is to be rewarded and also be your whole entire self, it becomes- that becomes less important once you realize that you are the source and that you don't need to have this- like, you're not constantly all- because I think in your line of work, you are all- you, you audition and work, you put yourself on the line, you have to be vulnerable, you have to be willing to accept criticism and rejection-

Jasika 56:50

*quietly* Mm-hm.

Lisa 56:50

-and all of these things that happen that may or may not be fair, and, most likely, are not fair. And you have to deal with that- with work.

Jasika 56:58

*quietly* Mm-hm.

Lisa 56:58

But when it comes to who you are, and who you are as a whole person, beyond a job, beyond a task, beyond a role, that's who you will always be.

Jasika 57:08

*quietly* Yeah.

Lisa 57:09

And that's why it's so important to do the work that feeds your soul, and this is not to say that people don't need to have jobs or whatever, you know, we live in capitalism.

Jasika 57:18

Mm-hm. *little laugh*

Lisa 57:19

But this idea that, that who you are, is not going to change, and should not change, with the whims of what other people think, I think, that's a recipe for unhappiness. It feels like such a recipe for this constant chasing of affirmation from people who really have no criteria with which to judge you anyway. You know-

Jasika 57:42

*quietly* Yeah.

Lisa 57:42

-and so it becomes so important to, to, to, to honor yourself and to remember, as a friend reminds me, is that you belong to yourself first.

Jasika 57:52

Mm.

Lisa 57:53

We belong to ourselves first-

Jasika 57:55

I love that.

Lisa 57:55

-as Jill Bates swore.

Jasika 57:56

I love that.

Lisa 57:57

And that's what she said-

Jasika 57:58

*hearty laugh*

Lisa 57:59

-she's amazing. And uh, yeah, she's wonderful. I'm not going to share her IG handle, I don't think she'd like that but she's amazing.

Jasika 58:06

*laughs*

Lisa 58:07

But yeah, and, and I, and, and this is why I believe creative liberation is a practice; it- because you've- it's like yoga, you do it again and again and again. It's not - and I know they do have these things, which I find weird - competitive yoga... is a thing.

Jasika 58:23

Seems like it defeats the purpose. But you know what? To each their own, like.

Lisa 58:27

Like, yeah, my life is not competitive yoga, and not competitive.

Jasika 58:31

*laughs* Mine isn't either.

Lisa 58:31

So I don't, I don't want that, I don't like it.

Jasika 58:34

*chuckles*

Lisa 58:34

I want to ask about your painting because I saw you did a painting of Jacqui's book "Embody."

Jasika 58:41

Yes!

Lisa 58:43

Did- did you know that- it was- oh my- I'm in the book! There's two patterns in that "Embody" book, th-

Jasika 58:50

*gasp* Wait! Oh my gosh, yes, you are in the book! Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you. Okay. Yes, I absolutely- That's you. And that's why - did she just do a podcast with you recently or something?

Lisa 59:03

Um *snaps fingers* like a, a discussion, a discussion. So, she and I had a conversation-

Jasika 59:08

Okay.

Lisa 59:08

-and she announced it on her newsletter and people came to that conversation. And yeah, did that like last week, and um-

Jasika 59:15

This is so full circle for me, because it was so weird that we were in touch with each other and I was gonna be doing this thing and then she was like, posting all this stuff about you and just saying really nice-

Lisa 59:25

Aw.

Jasika 59:25

-things about you. And I was like, "Oh, I'm so excited to talk to this woman, she's clearly like super, super smart-

Lisa 59:31

*chuckles*

Jasika 59:31

-very talented." And she just got me really hyped up. And now I realized that, yes, you are totally in that book. So, they sent me the book to review it and I did. I'm in a, I'm in a knitting hiatus right now in my life, um, which I won't go into, um, but it was so funny, I got the book and I was like, "alright, I hope that I'm inspired to knit something" and I looked all through it and I was like, "I'm actually just inspired to paint everything." Like, the book is so pretty, the colors are so stunning. All the plants that are in it, it's just real like, pleasant, good, relaxed, chill vibes. So yeah, that's so, it was a delight to paint her, although I told her I was like, "I'm sorry, I don't think I did you justice in terms of like how pretty you are because I'm just getting into watercolors but-"

Lisa 1:00:18

You did a really- I thought you did a good job of, I was collecting your pic-, I was like "Oh, it's Jacqui" - I knew what it was right away, so awesome.

Jasika 1:00:24

Yay! Oh that makes me so happy.

Lisa 1:00:27

And then I was like, "Where's mine?-

Jasika 1:00:31

*laughs*

Lisa 1:00:31

-I don't see my picture -

Jasika 1:00:32

*slow clapping*

Lisa 1:00:33

-When's my picture coming? I don't, I don't wanna-

Jasika 1:00:35

I'll go online and write it down on my list, okay?

Lisa 1:00:36

I don't wanna give her no unsolicited advice, but I want to see where my painting at.

Jasika 1:00:40

Okay, we're gonna have to do a Tik Tok, where we're like, uh, doing a scene from the Titanic and I'm Jack. And I'm like, *seductively* "Can I paint you?" And you got to be like, *timidly* "yeah" *giggles* I'm gonna get some velvet- *laughs*

Lisa 1:00:55

Ready, I'm ready. Oh my gosh, that was so, that was so great. It was, it was really beautiful. And it just shows me how you are living a life of creative liberation, in my opinion. And this is one of the reasons that I was so, so happy to talk to you, because you are doing this. And you are putting it out there and you are being your whole self, you are not apologizing and you are helping people in so doing that, to learn to be free within themselves. That is what I receive when I visit your page and when I see you, you know, do, do talks and see you on Lives and seeing you do the things that you do, I, I really do, I really do appreciate that about you. And it is rare, it is quite rare, because there's a lot of folks who don't want to risk the benefits that come with being approved of by, um, by, you know what I'm saying? It's just, it- some people need that. And you know, that's fine. But it's also not you. It's not you, it's not who you are, it's not what you do, it's not me, it's not what I do. And I just really feel like it's important to, *takes a breath* to be who you are without fear. You know, and, and it's a lot of people are working on that, you know, and-

Jasika 1:02:13

-self-included. *laughs*

Lisa 1:02:16

And also me, um and so I really, I love that, I'm so sad to wrap this up because I have 90,000 more questions-

Jasika 1:02:24

*laughs* Okay.

Lisa 1:02:24

-that I could not- um, and so I'm not gonna be able to get to all the stuff I had, about you know, the projector sewing stuff. This would be-

Jasika 1:02:31

Oh my god.

Lisa 1:02:33

Yep, confused. Um, and um, what would make you sell something for someone? What makes someone make-worthy, still?

Jasika 1:02:40

Oh my gosh, I have answers though.

Lisa 1:02:43

Okay, I wanna, I wanna know what makes someone make-worthy.

Jasika 1:02:47

Okay. So if I love you a lot, you're already in the category of "Yes, I will consider making for you."

Lisa 1:02:56

Okay.

Jasika 1:02:56

However, if you know exactly what you want, that makes me so happy. Like, I won't, I won't even hesitate. So when my partner Claire, uh, sees something on- online, maybe, that they like and they're really excited, and they're like, "Oh my god, could you make this?" I'm over the moon. But re- most recently, my dad has joined this group of people. So I don't know who told, I don't know who taught him about Pinterest. It was not me.

Lisa 1:03:26

Oh dear, oh I'm so sorry.

Jasika 1:03:27

It might be one of these ladies he's dating.

Lisa 1:03:30

Oh my-. Oh no.

Jasika 1:03:30

Okay, but somebody told him, not only how to save things to Pinterest, but how to send me the pins so I can see what it is that he likes.

Lisa 1:03:39

Oh my god. *chuckles*

Jasika 1:03:39

So a couple of years ago, he sends me these pins. And he's: "Do you think you can make these shirts?" because I had al- I want to be clear. I'd already told my dad, "Dad, if you see stuff, he likes it, you know I can I can make you stuff." So he knew he wouldn't have asked me if it wasn't cool. But anyway, he sent me these photos of these fitted button down shirts that have these wild, bold floral prints on them. And I was like, "Can I make them?"

Lisa 1:04:05

*laughs*

Jasika 1:04:07

*laughs satirically* Is that a challenge? And so um, you know, I made him these shirts. And then another year, he sent me a pin of a wooden cutting board that had this really beautiful ornate design carved into it. He was like, "Can you make this?" and I was like, "I don't know, we 'bout to find out, let's go." And I made it for him. This man keeps this butcher block in his car just so he can take it out to show people when he goes to visit them. I don't even know if he's actually ever cut anything on it because he likes it so much. So I would say in general, uh, make-worthy people are the ones who are like, so excited and so thankful for the time that you put into it. I'm about to flame my mom right now, but I've made her a couple of dresses in the past-

Lisa 1:04:55

*laughs*

Jasika 1:04:55

-and her response has been lukewarm to mediocre. And here's, here's what I will say, this is, this is tricky and this is the thing about... the patriarchy, and fitting into a specific beauty standard. So when I make stuff for my mom, I think she loves it, but she doesn't like her body, uh because it is bigger than it has been in past times. And so all she can see, all she can see is that, that she's unhappy with how she looks. And it is so hard, because she's got decades of talking poorly to, to herself in her brain, you know what I mean.

Lisa 1:05:37

*quietly* Yeah, yeah.

Jasika 1:05:37

And so, my little ol' voice saying-

Lisa 1:05:40

"You're beautiful, stop"

Jasika 1:05:41

-"girl, you know, it doesn't matter what size you are, you've always been beautiful." Like, she's always been the most beautiful woman I've ever known 'cause it's the first woman that I've ever known.

Lisa 1:05:41

*whole-heartedly agreeing*

Jasika 1:05:41

And I feel you know, lots of kids always think that their moms are the most beautiful people. She can't see past that to what I made her and so I've learned that I just don't need to make her things, um, because I don't think she's in a place where she can really receive the gift without, you know going down-

Lisa 1:06:10

Yeah.

Jasika 1:06:11

-going into some dark place.

Lisa 1:06:12

It's not, yeah. Yes, that's right. Not yet.

Jasika 1:06:14

Yeah, not yet. And you know what, I'm not giving up on her because I am constantly, you know, sharing information with her and, and I don't know, trying to get her, like, on board with the, with the, like, pro-fat movement.

Lisa 1:06:26

*lightly chuckling*

Jasika 1:06:27

I say pro-fat, it's really, you know, trying to be against anti-fat but really, like, pro-anybody's body-

Lisa 1:06:34

Yep.

Jasika 1:06:34

-that is yours is a good-

Lisa 1:06:36

You should gi- you should read "The Body is Not an Apology," I love that book.

Jasika 1:06:38

*pause* This woman does not read, okay? Like, all she does is watch Hell's Kitchen, and RuPaul's Drag Race and it is so hard to get her-

Lisa 1:06:50

It's on tape.

Jasika 1:06:51

Like I, I-

Lisa 1:06:52

It's on tape.

Jasika 1:06:53

I know. *defeatedly* All right. We'll see.

Lisa 1:06:55

You should like, you can tell us, tell us a podcast. *chuckles*

Jasika 1:06:58

*quietly, sarcastically* Listen to a podcast?

Lisa 1:07:00

*laughs*

Jasika 1:07:02

This woman.... But you know what, you're right. I just have to... If I'm with her, she lives in Florida, so if I'm with her, I, I do try to infuse our conversations with, you know, progressive ideas about bodies and how the patriarchy has affected, you know, our understanding of what is beautiful, blah, blah, blah. It's not blah-

Lisa 1:07:23

-It's not.

Jasika 1:07:24

-but you know.

Lisa 1:07:24

It takes time.

Jasika 1:07:25

It does.

Lisa 1:07:26

She will get there, or not. It's not-

Jasika 1:07:29

-or she won't.

Lisa 1:07:30

-and it's not your job, right? It's not your job-

Jasika 1:07:33

Right.

Lisa 1:07:33

Your job, your job, you love her, your job, 'cause she's- you love her. That's it - that you love, love, love, you love and accept-

Jasika 1:07:34

-love, love, love.

Lisa 1:07:39

You love, you love, you love; You accept, you accept, you accept.

Jasika 1:07:45

That's it and you know, here's- *sigh* I know, we have to end this soon, but here's where, you know, the, the boundaries, talking about putting boundaries on social media and being so, um, you know, adamant about what I expect from people.

Lisa 1:07:59

Yeah.

Jasika 1:07:59

It is so easy to do it on social media, and so much harder to do it in real life. So when people write to me and say, "I'm trying to be like you and stick out boundaries, too." And I'm like, "Girl, I am also-

Lisa 1:08:12

"So am I."

Jasika 1:08:12

-trying to do-" *laughs*

Lisa 1:08:12

And then I'm failing because I'm reading this note!

Jasika 1:08:17

*laughing* *quietly* "I'm trying, too!"

Abso- honestly, yes. But what I want to do is be like, "Mom, you don't get to talk to me about diets anymore, I don't want to hear about it, I don't want to hear about keto, I don't want to hear- I don't want to hear you use the word 'fat' in a derogatory way." That's what I want to say to her. And it's so... *groan* it's just really hard, especially when it's somebody who lives far away from you.

Lisa 1:08:37

*quietly* Right, right.

Jasika 1:08:38

So the actual time that you have together feel so limited and it's like-

Lisa 1:08:41

Yeah and you don't want to spend it fighting.

Jasika 1:08:43

Exactly! Exactly. But I have to get, I just have to get better at it. So that is, that's the goal that I'm working on right now.

Lisa 1:08:49

It's one of the practices, it's one of the many practices and we- that's what we do -we keep practicing.

Jasika 1:08:55

We keep challenging ourselves! We're trying to grow, we're trying to, again, expand, be expansive, be broad and big and bold.

Lisa 1:09:03

If you are on Patreon, you are seeing these amazing gestures of expansion-

Jasika 1:09:07

*laughs*

Lisa 1:09:07

-that she is doing. They're really amazing. You could tell she was a dancer. So, I'm just saying 'cause she's doing it *indecipherable*

Jasika 1:09:13

Ha!

Lisa 1:09:13

And y'all are totally missing out.

Jasika 1:09:15

*squeaking/laughing*

Lisa 1:09:16

And, her bangs are like, now-

Jasika 1:09:18

And-

Lisa 1:09:19

-perfect; they have- everything has gone back to, you know, her hair throughout the entire process has been, like, amazing. And if you don't have the Patreon, you're missing it because-.

Jasika 1:09:29

Y'all gotta sign up for the Patreon if you really want to see, uh, the delight of this Lisa Turtle look right now.

Lisa 1:09:36

I mean, it's really quite special. And I feel like the fact that she's even calling it, I know she means Lisa from Saved by the Bell, but I really feel like she's talking about me, so I'm really enjoying it-

Jasika 1:09:46

*laughs loudly*

Lisa 1:09:44

Um, it's really, it's been like a great day for me.

Jasika 1:09:46

*still laughing*

Lisa 1:09:46

Jasika, what do you-

Jasika 1:09:51

Oh, thank you so much, Lisa.

Lisa 1:09:52

Jasika, what do most find- what do you, what's your next big thing? Do you have anything coming up later on for 2021 or things that you're excited about?

Jasika 1:10:00

*pause* Um, no. And here's what I've learned from this pandemic, that is, that is okay.

Lisa 1:10:08

*quietly* Yep.

Jasika 1:10:08

Um, I, you know, I, I would say prior to the pandemic, you know, whenever you do an interview or whatever, you're promoting a project, and they're always asking what is next because they want to make sure that it is beneficial for you when you know what you do and people can find you. And I remember always feeling so insecure, like I didn't have anything that was coming up next. So I would, I would make up stuff and I'd be like, "I had a great audition last week. I don't know what's gonna happen, but who knows?" Maybe, may-

Lisa 1:10:36

Probably spectacular because-

Jasika 1:10:37

*laughs*

Lisa 1:10:37

-have you met me?

Jasika 1:10:41

But now after this pandemic, I can honestly say, I'm just trying to be alive and healthy. I want my family to be alive and healthy and doing well. That is really and truly- I have no idea what actual work I'm going to be doing next, um, and I don't even think it is as important to me as it used to be; I just want to be, want to have some good mental health situation. I want to feel inspired. Uh, I want to feel excited about waking up in the morning. And if an opportunity presents itself to me, that is really wonderful, I will absolutely be sharing it on my social media handles. And then people can find me on Instagram, I am @jasikaistrycurious dot com and then my website is www.jasikanicole.com, which is mostly a sewing blog, and uh, don't worry about Twitter, that's just for work, like-

Lisa 1:11:36

*small laugh*

Jasika 1:11:36

-and, yeah that-

Lisa 1:11:37

Don't go to that work account, that's not, that's not worth it.

Jasika 1:11:40

Don't, don't go to the work account, that's what I really mean.

Lisa 1:11:42

*voices overlapping* -that's where Jasika hangs out. She don't hang out on Twitter. That's not- that's, that's where Work-Jasika hangs out. You want to go watch her do some work...

Jasika 1:11:49

That's Work-Jasika. *groan* Yes.

Lisa 1:11:52

This has been so amazing. You are wonderful. And thank you for being here with us today. This is amazing.

Jasika 1:12:00

Thank you, Lisa, you're awesome. This was such a joy. I appreciate, um, appreciate you having me on and I appreciate you valuing the voices of, of Black, Black people, but also specifically Black women, Black femmes, um, giving them a platform to talk about the culture in the world and the art that we create is really, really cool.

Outro Music 1:12:24

*plays, overlapped with sound of sewing machine*

Lisa 1:12:32

You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at blackwomenstitch@gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, P-A-T-R-E-O-N, and you can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month, you can help support the project with things like editing, transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really, really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast, um, directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who do, for those that have a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us and the Stitch Please podcast, that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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