Actress and comedienne revisits 400 years of women’s history in ‘Oh Yes She Did’

Sandy Brown will perform her one woman show "Oh Yes She Did!" in Sutherland Auditorium on March 22.

Brown+embodies+African-American+women%27s+history+in+her+one-woman+show.+%7C+Courtesy+of+Sandy+Brown

Brown embodies African-American women's history in her one-woman show. | Courtesy of Sandy Brown

Jenna Schmidt, Writer

Brown embodies African-American women's history in her one-woman show. | Courtesy of Sandy Brown

 

March is not just the month for St. Paddy’s Day or midterms, but also for the celebration of women’s history. How often do we think about the impact of women’s history outside of history class? As part of the campus’ recognition of this month, HBO actress and comedienne Sandy Brown will be performing her one woman show, “Oh Yes She Did!” on Saturday, March 22 in Sutherland Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., to illustrate the place for women’s history in our modern lives.

Ms. Brown shared her goals for the show, which spans 400 years of African-American women’s history with an inspirational mix of humor, drama and historical impact.

What message are you hoping people will walk away with from this show?

“Empowerment. I get feedback from people all over the world that have seen it, all nationalities and all age ranges from children to golden seniors, and it’s inspiring. These women were able to change their nations, and so when people are able to see, from all types and disciplines and backgrounds, they’re able to resonate with being the underdog, of having to struggle in any sense.

“It appears that it would only apply to people of a very specific type, but I have hundreds and hundreds of video interviews from people literally from all over the world, from this country to this country, of all different types and backgrounds who looked at this and it touched them, and they thought, ‘People need to see this.’”

Who is your favorite figure to portray, the one who impacts you the most?

“That’s hard to say. You can’t really pick one because each of them has profound value and life lessons for me. I was told by someone, ‘You have to earn the right to play these women and their powerful messages.’

“That turned out to be quite prophetic, in the journey of it. A friend of mine said, ‘You can’t expect to play these women without swimming in those waters of opposition and depression, and whatever obstacle you can think of.’ And I had to keep going, I had to keep doing it. I’ve been blessed to be able to run the show for years and have people keep returning to it and enjoying it. I can’t just pick one, there are valuable lessons in each of them.”

What do you hope Biola students specifically walk away with?

“First of all, it is a celebration of women in our history … There are powerful universal messages. People feel uplifted after the show — and inspired. Whatever vision they wanted to accomplish, whatever they’ve put up on the shelf, there’s something that is stirring people to become active in something that they’ve wanted to do, something that they’ve said has made them want to be a better person, which I thought was beautiful, that you can create something that not only entertains but also enlightens and encourages people. That’s a tall order, and to achieve that is quite a blessing — to find the blessing in your journey and to walk boldly with it and know you’re not alone.

“Women have done such powerful and pivotal things in our history, and they didn’t know that they were doing that. They didn’t say, ‘Oh, I’m going to be an icon for decades or centuries long after I’m gone.’ They were in a situation where there was a void in the world in the time that they lived in, and they stepped into that void to make change, boldly — in some cases risking their life to do what they believed was right, what they believed was just — and made powerful changes doing it.

“They stepped up, regardless of inner fears or situations or obstacles, regardless of the opposition they were facing. They answered the call, and it’s a beautiful thing when you see it. It stirs up in you, and that’s what it’s done for me and that’s what it’s done for audiences.”

How are not only African-American women, but also men and other ethnicities able to relate to the show?

“Everyone’s human. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re from, whether you’re male or female, everyone has their ‘something.’ Whatever it is that your challenge is, to see someone overcome theirs stirs that within you, it gives you that courage and that reminder that you can do that. You see yourself. We’re all a mirror of each other. When you witness that, you’re inspired to keep going regardless of circumstances.

What are you being called to do? Do you have the courage to walk that walk? The show spans 400 years, and when you see certain things that are just commonplace at one time were illegal in another time for another people. You could be hurt or even killed for something like education, which people take for granted. To see what was done to get that, it shapes you in another way.

To be treated equal, like how people take for granted the right for women’s votes! It wasn’t that long ago! Women suffered and women died for that, and people forget that. People have a short memory of how far this nation has come in such a short amount of time. When you think of what women were able to do at this time, not only for their ethnicity but for their gender, it boggles the mind.

You can see what each woman was able to do in her time period, and what it did for others as well. It pieces together things that have happened across history, and suddenly, you can see how this happened because of that. It becomes extremely relevant. It really isn’t just about women, it’s about everyone. Again, it’s profound how specific things can become quite universal.”

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