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Unpublished Interviews with the Celebrities at V-Day 2001 (at Madison Square Garden)


Interviews conducted by Molly Kawachi

Calista Flockhart
MK: Why did you first get involved with V-Day?

CF: I think primarily because I love women. And I am a woman, so I have a great amount of empathy for them and I want the violence against women to stop.

MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls and the youth of America today?

CF: I think it can provide inspiration and empowerment and role models.

MK: What do you think girls today can do to stop the violence?

CF: I think that the most important thing is to become educated. Know that you have power and limits and boundaries and you can stand up for yourself and you can change the world.

Rosie Perez
MK: Why and how did you get involved with V-Day?

RP: Eve Ensler asked me in 1995 to do the first V-Day special, so I joined the troop then, then I did the second opening in New York and then the first one in Los Angeles.

MK: How do you think V-Day affects young women and teenage girls?

RP: It gets people talking about the issues that nobody really wants to talk about in a non-exploitive way. I think some of the talk shows have exploited it and taken the seriousness away from it.

MK: How do you think today’s youth can help stop the violence?

RP: Start being aware, and start standing up for each other. I think that’s the biggest thing. I remember when I was younger, no one would stand up for me. I didn’t feel strong enough to stand up for myself, and I think that’s a good way to start, with support groups. But also just putting the message out there that it’s just not cool, it’s just not alright.

Julia Stiles
MK: How did you get involved with V-Day?

JS: I performed in the play off-Broadway over the summer, and you know anyone who is in the show is invited to participate in V-Day.

MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls today?

JS: I hope that it just raises awareness. Just to get women to talk about their vaginas, you know, there’s so much…women need to talk about these issues more and open up and share their stories.

MK: How do you think teenage girls can help stop the violence?

JS: Demand respect and demand to be treated well. I think it starts on a personal level.

MK: What was your favorite part of the show?

JS: Oh, Queen Latifah, oh god I love her, she’s just incredible.

MK: And what would your vagina wear and say?

JS: Um, let me think…my vagina would say “slow down”, and my vagina would wear satin.

Melissa Joan Hart
MK: How did you get involved with V-Day?

MJH: I did the play last summer.

MK: And how do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls today?

MJH: I hope they will be more aware of their bodies and more empowered. Just have a better self esteem about themselves and just be aware of what’s going on around them and what they can do with themselves.

Claire Danes
MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls today?

CD: Umm…jeepers, that’s a good question…well I hope that they feel inspired and I hope that it allows them to go deep into their bodies and release whatever pain they may have suffered from and celebrate their vaginas and their womanhood.

MK: How do you think teenagers can help stop the violence?

CD: Well, men and women…I think women have to talk about the fact, they have to admit that they’ve been abused and injured and they have to recognize that it’s wrong and they have to defend themselves against it happening in the future. And men have just got to listen to women and have got to respect them and have got to embrace them for who they are and not objectify them. And none of that Machismo nonsense.

Joan Osborne
MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls today?

JO: Well, I would hope that it will give them a starting point to really have a greater courage about expressing themselves and being comfortable with their bodies and everything that that means with being comfortable with their bodies and being comfortable with themselves in the world, it’s incredible how many pressures young girls and young women are under, the piece that was performed tonight really brings that home. I think young girls and women live in this sort of mine field, what you’re supposed to do, what you’re not supposed to do, what’s acceptable, what are people going to say about you. So there’s a lot of pressure and I think that with a piece like this, it could give these girls a different perspective to just appreciate themselves and start from that and not worry too much about what everyone says.

MK: And how do you think teenagers can help today to stop the violence?

JO: Teenagers can support each other. I think there’s a lot of behavior that teenagers will let by because they think it’s not cool to object, they’ll see somebody being abusive to someone else verbally, and they won’t say anything because they think it’s not cool to get involved. I think that’s the first step: to stand up for someone you think is being picked on or treated unfairly and it takes a lot of courage to do that. And then also, if you can reach out to people across other cultures. One of the great things that happened tonight was that these great women from Africa and Afghanistan came out onto the stage and they talked about the reality in their countries and what they’re doing on their own to make their lives better. So I’m sure there are ways for younger people to get involved with those causes as well, but I also think it really does start at home, at school, just in your own world as a teenager.

MK: So, what was your favorite part of the show?

JO: I think when the three women from Kenya came onstage and the one woman talked about escaping female genital mutilation and saying that she wouldn’t allow herself to be cut. And the other woman talked about how she is walking through the countryside and is trying to get people to accept a different kind of ritual that allows a woman to go from girlhood to womanhood without being violated and mutilated and trying to make that part of their culture. I think that was my favorite part of the night because it showed how dire the problem was and it showed a way that the problem could possibly be solved.

MK: What would your vagina say and wear?

JO: What my vagina would wear…one of those big white, fluffy terrycloth robes, definitely.

Marisa Tomei
MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls today?

MT: I hope that… (Stumbling for the words) there are just so many levels, I WISH I HAD V-DAY WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER. I mean I just feel like when I saw you girls up there, there’s just such a beauty and purity and brains and power in seeing you in your pure spirit…now is the time when you are going to enter the “real world” and that’s a time when a lot of things can try to crush you and crush that spirit. The strength that you get from a night like tonight and the knowledge that there are people you can go and talk to you, that there’s a community that will stand by you, that you have a right to be your beautiful, female self can change everything. And can change the decisions that you make so you never have to feel ashamed about yourself.

MK: How do you think teenage girls can help stop the violence?

MT: Well, I think that it’s so much in your hands because you are the next generation. You have time to grow up, no need to feel overally overwhelmed but that as you grow and you let that truth stay in your heart of being who you are without shame, that that’s the thing that grows and changes the world and you have that inside you.

MK: What was your favorite part of the show tonight?

MT: You guys

MK: No really

MT: No, really. Totally. That’s what I’ve been saying to everyone, I’m not just saying it because you’re asking me. Completely to me, that was the most moving, most profound, most beautiful part of the evening.

MK: For the record, what would your vagina say?

MT: (Ha ha) Well, I have bee know to say that if my vagina could talk, it would say “ Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.”

Kathy Najimy
MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls?

KN: I think teenage girls have affected V-Day. I mean one of the most moving moments of tonight was when there were 20 or 30 teenage girls who stormed the stage…were you in it? Unbelievable, that was my favorite part. All I did was sob because, first of all, you looked fabulous, you danced great and sang great, but most of all, the love between the women. There’s this myth that women don’t get along. Women love each other more than you can imagine. In fact, backstage at V-Day were some of the most famous women on earth, loving each other, supporting each other, laughing and crying with each other, but I think that moment was so moving because I have a 4 year old daughter and I thought if she can grow up with that much confidence and self love and love of other women, I will be a happy, happy mother. I want her to be a part of whatever group that was, my 4 year old daughter is going to audition in 10 years.

MK: How do you think teenage girls can help stop the violence?

KN: Well, this is what I feel: first of all, there is so much emphasis from the media for girls to hate their bodies and if you hate your body, you don’t have any self-esteem. When you have self-esteem, you have the strength and the power to stop things that are going to harm you. I think once women come into their bodies, they will come into their consciousness. And that consciousness altogether is going to make an impact to stop violence against women. I think we really have to be serious and identify how especially girls are being molded into an impossible figure that is killing them and making them sick and making them hate themselves. So I think we really need to pay attention to that. That’s like the number 1… I can’t tell my daughter more times a day how beautiful and perfect she is just the way she is and how god gave her her body and it’s perfect. And we tend to categorize it in another category than violence against women, I think it’s intertwined. I think when you don’t have self-esteem and self-love, then you don’t have the power to stop things that harm you.

Glenn Close
MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls today?

GC: Oh gosh, I hope it should have a huge impact on them, to know that there’s a huge support group out there, you know, to help them know they don’t have to be anything they don’t want to be or look a way they don’t want to look, that they can somehow realize how special they are.

MK: How do you think teenage girls can help stop the violence?

GC: I think a lot of teenagers are outraged about the violence and I think they would be wanting very to be a part of something that makes people aware of it.

MK: What was your favorite part of the show?

GC: The girl in the burqa. Unbelievable. To realize that women have to exist in those things. You know I’m claustrophobic, I’d probably die.

MK: What would your vagina wear?

GC: Something as light as possible.

Teri Hatcher
MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls today?

TH: Well I hope it will make them feel empowered to do and reach for what they want and also protected and cared for in some way by women who are older and passionate and care about solving the problem of violence against women.

MK: How do you think teenage girls can help stop the violence?

TH: Well, I think they can continue with the attitude that was pervasive at the even tonight, but you know, stopping violence is about stopping the mentality of the violator, it’s sort of like what was so beautiful about that monologue my short skirt which was, it isn’t about the violated, you know not wearing a short skirt or whatever. It’s about the mentality of the violator, and so just continuing this is not ok, I will not accept this, I count, I have worth, I have value, I know what I deserve and this is what I deserve and it’s not that. I think that’s it.

Gloria Steinem
MK: How do you think V-Day will affect teenage girls?

GS: I hope that if they know about V-Day and read about V-Day, they will feel a little more proud of their bodies and a little bit more understanding that they have a right to be safe.

MK: How do you think teenage girls can help stop the violence?

GS: First of all by standing up for themselves. There’s an awful lot of dating violence that is the beginning of more to come and some of it is because the girls don’t feel they’ll be popular if they complain or if they bring any kind of action or discipline against the guy, but we can’t respect people who don‘t respect us and I hope that this might cause girls to talk to each other and discover they’re not alone and they’re not the only ones experiencing it.

Molly Kawachi, who is going into her senior year in high school, was a cast member of "What Girls Know" and performed in Madison Square Garden at V-Day
2001. She has been a trendspotter for Teen People Magazine for the past four years and interviewed celebrities right after the show specifically about teenagers and how they can get involved in the movement to end violence against women and girls.