It’s no secret that this election season has been turbulent, and one of the most talked about issues on the campaign trail has been the issue of women’s rights – especially in regards to reproductive rights. In an effort to fundraise and raise awareness, several of showbiz’s brightest stars will turn out in support of reproductive rights in Broadway Acts for Women: A Star-Studded Night of Karaoke and Comedy at Feinstein’s/54 Below on May 1.
The event, presented by reproductive rights advocacy organization A is For, will be hosted by Cecily Strong of Saturday Night Live. Audience members will bid on performers (including Titus Burgess, Orfeh, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Betty Buckley) to sing a song of their choosing. Other auction items offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience while supporting a worthy cause including a private concert by Michael Cerveris and VIP tickets for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
However, the real star of the evening will be the causes that the benefit supports: Jane’s Due Process, the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, and Physicians for Reproductive Health. The overarching goal of the evening will be to raise money in order to help every woman have full access to the reproductive health care.
Emmy Award winner Martha Plimpton, Olivier Award winner Lesli Margherita, and Tony Award winner Lena Hall, all three of whom will be performing at the benefit, talked to Stage Door Dish about empowering women and the importance of supporting this cause.
Why do you think reproductive freedom is essential?
MP: Without access to safe, legal abortions and other essential reproductive health care, like contraceptives and pre-natal services, women and families suffer, our economy suffers, and children suffer. Nations that fail to provide these critical health care services have on average a lower GDP, higher maternal and infant mortality rates, and fewer women engaged in political and civic life. We have an obligation to end discrimination in health care against women. We see higher maternal mortality rates in states with the most abortion restrictions. Pregnant women deserve full protection under the law, and our Constitution guarantees that. It’s up to us to stop the rollbacks of women’s health rights.
What would you like to say to women who oppose reproductive freedom?
MP: They are lucky to have that choice.
What is one positive impact that can result from this freedom that you wish everyone understood?
MP: Access to abortion and other reproductive health care leads to healthier families, wealthier and healthier women, and greater economic stability.
This is a little bit of a crazy time for politics, to say the least. What advice do you have for everyone who is about to elect the people who have the power to enact our nation’s laws?
MP: Do your best to read from a variety of news outlets, not just those on one side of the ideological spectrum. Think for yourself, and most of all, vote in down-ballot, local, and council elections!
LM: Obviously the most important thing is for them to actually vote! It’s vital and these races will be too close, so vote for what you believe in.
What is the most empowering thing another woman has said to you?
MP: That speaking out about my abortions helped them to feel less afraid to speak up for themselves.
LM: My mother always told me that I could do anything I wanted to so long as I worked hard and believed in myself.
LH: Buy your own diamonds! You don’t need a man to do it for you! Make yourself happy.
What made you want to get involved with Broadway Acts for Women?
LH: I believe in women’s rights and see our nation moving backwards on women’s issues such as reproductive freedom.
Which fellow performer are you most excited to see?
LM: Are you kidding? How do I pick? Everyone. I love that it’s karaoke, and you may get a song you don’t really know. I think that will be hysterical.
What’s your favorite thing about these events that are so much fun yet stand to benefit something so important?
MP: The brilliant thing about this night is it’s not recorded and there’s no video. So if you’re not there, you’ve missed the most spontaneous, hilarious, thrilling night of amazing performers stepping out of their comfort zones. And they do it because they believe in the physical right of women to control our bodies. I am so grateful to every single one of them for their time and their willingness to make fools of themselves so that other women can be safe.
LM: It’s always amazing to see people out of their shows doing other things. You don’t often get to hang out with your fellow performers, and to do so while raising awareness for a great cause is the absolute best way to do it.
LH: You seriously don’t know what’s going to happen. They are loose and fun and anything goes.
What kind of impact do you think the Broadway community can have on issues like this?
MP: The Broadway community has shown that when it wants to get something done, it does it times a thousand. From AIDS research and advocacy, to marriage equality, to programs for homeless youth, to pet adoption drives, the Broadway community and our audiences have raised millions of dollars. They have done more to educate and engage the public in an incredibly organized and focused way than any other arts community in the world. I am so proud to be among some of the most charitable, engaged, and generous artists in the world. We get it done!