Personnel Profile: Amy Brown & Jodi Hicks

In their day jobs, Amy Brown is a governmental advocate for DiMare, Van Vleck & Brown LLC. Jodi Hicks is vice president of governmental relations for the California Medical Association. But on Tuesday, April 26, they’ll be appearing in a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” at the Crest Theatre (1013 K St.)

How did you guys end up doing this show?
JH: I used to work for NOW, and I’m still on email lists and keep in touch with some of my activist friends. The casting call had gone around. So I called Amy and I was like, “Hey, we should do this.”

AB: For me, it was a couple of things. I had been through a heck of a work week and it was something different and a little more inspirational, going back to our activist roots of why we got into politics. I’m also turning 40 this year.

That was nicely preemptive.

JH: Yeah, she [Amy] likes to bring that up.

AB: She learned of these auditions back at the beginning of January. They held two auditions at Chicory. It was a very gloomy, depressing weekend right after the holidays. She called me and said, “Why don’t we do something creative and fun and outside our comfort zones?”

I walked into this thinking this would get me out of my bad mood, but what I learned is that it’s so incredibly insignificant compared to what girls have suffered all over the world. We practice three hours every week for four months. It’s not just rehearsing your lines, it’s learning about genital mutilation. It put my bad mood on that Sunday into perspective.

The women who we’re working with are from all walks of life, and we have become a really tight-knit group of women who do things outside of rehearsals and will likely be friends for life. It was a lot more than standing up there talking about vaginas.

There is something about that clinical-sounding word. You can say it on television but no one ever does.

AB: Sometimes when I’m talking about it with people and they’re like, “Oh, you’re in ‘The Monologues.” And I’m like, say it with me, “vagina,” it’s not a bad word.

Eve Ensler started this effort back in the late ’90s. The proceeds went to help fight violence against women all over the world. It sort of took off from there. V-Day is the non-profit that she put together to collect funds to donate. They do these community and college and professional “Vagina Monologues” all over the world. This is the first community production in Sacramento. The proceeds go to WEAVE and My Sister’s House, and 10 percent of all proceeds to The Spotlight, that’s the women and children of Haiti.

Do you guys have acting experience, or public speaking?

JH: Public speaking as far as my job. Since I took over as the chief lobbyist, I have to do a lot more public speaking. We have our big lobby day and speak to 500 doctors. But this is definitely outside my comfort zone.

AB: My prior acting experience was in the 5th grade when I played the Tin Man. So she ropes me into this, and she doesn’t have to say “vagina” once. I have to say it and bust out with a German accent.

I hear you’re doing the monologue that’s right at the end.
JH: I am. We’re bookends. Amy starts it off, and hers is great. I have the spotlight monologue. Amy is a little irritated I somehow got the tribute activist one, so I don’t actually say “vagina” the whole time. How the Monologues are structured is Eve Ensler writes a bunch of monologues. When directors do the play, they pick which ones they want to do. Every year, there’s what they call a spotlight. Ninety percent of the proceeds go to local domestic violence shelters. Ten percent goes to whatever the issue is that year. That’s what the spotlight monologue is about.

This year it’s about the women and girls of Haiti. Eve Ensler wrote a spotlight monologue about Miriam Merlett. She was an activist in Haiti and brought the Monologues to Haiti and started a foundation for women there. She died in the earthquake. The monologue I do is a tribute to her and the work she did. It’s very moving. Some of the monologue are radically funny and some of them are horribly sad. They cover a wide span of women’s issue.

AB: It’s ever-evolving. There are some new ones that have been performed in the last couple years. One of them is about being in the room when her daughter gave birth. It’s about babies coming out of vaginas and how crazy and magical it is.

I’m doing one monologue and then I’m a part of an ensemble. I’m doing one called “Hair.” “Hair” was in her HBO special. It’s about … pubic hair. Whether to strip it down or not. The other piece I’m doing is an ensemble with four other women called, “They beat the girl out of my boy, or so they tried.” It’s about being transgendered. There are some monologues that are hilarious and others that dig real deep and touch on some nerves.

You’ve became the mother of a daughter within the last couple of years.
JH: I did. She’ll be two in May. I have a 20-year-old daughter, as well. I have a boy, a 15-year-old. But my oldest is a daughter. That is definitely a motivator in a lot of things I get involved in. I was on the board of NOW, I’m on the board of Planned Parenthood. I drag her around whenever we go do political things. She hates it. It’s funny, my son puts on headphones whenever we have practice at our house. They roll their eyes, but I think they’re a little bit used to it. When I was at NOW we did a campaign called, “I (heart) consensual sex.” I have a T-shirt, and they’re like, “Don’t wear that to my school.”

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