In a matter of weeks Joy Nash's seven minute video A Fat Rant at YouTube has gone from 140 subscribers to 4100 subscribers and from 1300 views to 681,881, and rising. That's not even including her MySpace playbacks. This 26 year old writer, actor, film maker and model took some time out of her busy schedule to talk about her Rant and life in general. Nash, who is a respectable size 18 (20), lives in Los Angeles, California where she works as an actor but was born in Dallas, Texas. She has a BA from the University of Southern California (USC) in School of Theater and another BA from USC Sociolinguistics. She also put in time at the British American Dramatic Academy. Acting wise, A Fat Rant is not her first gig. Nash has performed on stage throughout Los Angeles and has worked on a "bunch" of independent/student films and five internet shorts. She has been performing A Fat Rant live since she first wrote it six years ago and is working on another video about body image. In the meantime, here's... Joy Nash!
Moe: How did A Fat Rant come about?
Joy Nash: Well, I wrote the Fat Rant script about 6 years ago as an assignment for a Solo Performance class I was taking in college. Things were pretty crazy at the time: my best friend was dying of brain cancer, and I was really kind of pissed off at how much the rest of us had (health, opportunities, etc) and instead of using it, we sat around whining and complaining about truly inconsequential things. While my friend, on the other hand, was shriveling - slowly losing everything - and was still so incredibly positive and motivated to get the absolute most out of the life she had left.
Also, in the class, another girl had written a "character" piece (not auto-biographical) entitled "Deuce" about a girl who weighed 200 pounds. The monologue was terrifically depressing... all about how hard it was as a fat girl... how miserable life was... how she hated herself... ending with the girl sobbing in the bathtub. That pissed me off. I thought... "Is this the worst thing you can imagine? Seriously?? Cause, I'm living it... and let me tell you... it's not that bad!!"
Moe: What was the purpose of making this video?
Joy Nash: I made the video, honestly, because I needed something for a reel - I needed a piece of film that showcased me as an actor. And I'd been performing A Fat Rant here and there for the past six years (most recently with the Art of Being) and had received a lot of positive feedback: people would say how they wished their sister, mother, whoever could have been there to hear it. I guess I figured I could kill two birds with one big fat stone (laughs).
It was really important to me to make a well rounded argument. As evidenced by a lot of comments I received, there are still a lot of people who have never heard of the research being done on fat and fitness. A lot of people seem to have no clue that it was possible to live a healthy, active life while still being "overweight".
Moe: What is Art of Being?
Joy Nash: This is the blurb from The Art of Being MySpace page: "The Art of Being is a monologue show based on the lives and stories of ten writer / actors and is rooted in music, dance, art and self expression. It journeys through moments of self definition and searches to find the humanity that links us all. This incredible ensemble will share their humor and heartbreak, and dare audiences to find the true beauty within. All monologues are original material by actors, based on what it entails to be human through their eyes. The struggles for perfection, the choices we make, the happy moments and the mistakes we learn from. The shows intention is to help bridge the gap of loneliness within humanity through art."
Moe: How long did it take to write and film?
Joy Nash: We shot over three days: about nine hours total. Editing took another three or four days as well. Writing... it was so long ago, I really have no idea, probably a week or two.
Moe: Did you do any research with other plus size people or did you draw on personal experience alone?
Joy Nash: When I wrote the rant, I had just finished a term paper on Fatness and Oppression, so I had been reading a lot of books on the subject: Fat!So? Because You Don't Have to Apologize For Your Size by Marilyn Wann; The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America by W. Charisse Goodman; No Fat Chicks: How Big Business Profits By Making Women Hate Their Bodies--And How To Fight Back by Terry Poulton; and Fat--A Fate Worse Than Death?: Women, Weight, and Appearance by Ruth Raymond Thone, were some of the books I came across in my research. So, while I didn't conduct any interviews myself, the accounts in those books made me confident a lot of the experiences I had had myself were pretty universal.
Moe: Did the skinny mini store you were in mind you filming?
Joy Nash: Ha! Ha! Sort of. We did a few takes on the down-low, but when a salesgirl spotted us we had to go and ask the store owner for permission. I batted my eyelashes a whole lot and he said it was fine. It's funny too, that store, Elegance, is the one I plug earlier in the piece (Ghetto Elegance is what the cool kids call it).
Moe: Did you think A Fat Rant would become so popular?
Joy Nash: I had no idea people would respond the way they have. I think I figured it'd sit there like a lot of my other videos there with 5000 views. And I think I would have been pretty excited about that too!
Moe: How do you feel about the popularity?
Joy Nash: It's crazy! It's great. Response has kind of been in two camps: people who say, "Hooray! I've been saying this forever! Thanks for doing it here." And then people who say "Oh my God! I never thought about it like that before... I'm gonna start living my life..." Those people make my heart beat so fast. I feel really lucky to be able to spread the word like this.
Moe: Has there been any negative feedback and what are your thoughts on it?
Joy Nash: There has definitely been some negative feedback. A lot of it is just flaming: people saying hateful things to get others riled up. But, it's the internet and you kind of have to expect it. People know there are no repercussions for anything they put out there. Some people seem to be really worried that I'm going to be the detriment of American health. If anything, my message is the opposite. I'm not saying "Get as fat as you can." I'm saying that hating yourself can't be anything but hurtful. Live your life. Really live it--and I'm pretty confident that that will include being active and not eating garbage every day.
Moe: You make numerous legitimate points about living life no matter what your size. Which one is most important to you and why?
Joy Nash: Hmm. I guess the point that I have to remind myself of the most is to not use my size as an excuse. I always think about how I look back at pictures of my 16 or 18 year-old self and think: "Holy! Look how great I looked. How could I have possibly been so down on myself?" And I know that in ten years, I will be thinking the exact same things about my 26-year-old self. So hot damn if I'm not going to live today like I know I'm going to wish I would have when I'm 40 or 60 or 100.
Moe: What do you hope will come from fat chicks "spreading the word"?
Joy Nash: I hope we'll stop "apologizing for our size" to quote Marilyn Wann. I hope we'll stop hating ourselves and open ourselves up to the possibility of a full and fruitful life at every size. I think saying the word "fat" strips it of its power. It means what I want it to mean. When someone says, "Does this make me look fat?" it feels so empowering to be able to respond: "What's wrong with being fat?"
Moe: Do you follow your own fat rant advice?
Joy Nash: For the most part, yes! (laughs) We all have our moments, but I refuse to believe my size is something to be ashamed of. This is my body. All of it. It's good, because it is mine.
Moe: Any hints on the current video(s) you're making?
Joy Nash: My new videos kind of run the gamut. There are a few that are just for fun: some comedic "commercials" and one that should be up in about a month also dealing with body image and living in the present. Hopefully people will like those too.
Moe: If someone wants you to perform A Fat Rant for their group or association what is the best way to contact you?
Joy Nash: If someone wants me to perform or speak, they should contact my agent, Penny Middlemiss at Rage Talent: 818.225.0526 or "orageo (at) pacbell.net".
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