Before we get into the collective, can you introduce yourselves and give us the quick and dirty bio of your lives before We The Women?
Sam: Did we have lives before We The Women?
The girls laugh
Nat: I’m Nathalie Love and we actually both grew up in Los Angeles, but we both moved to the east coast to study theater and found each other when we moved back home. I have loved performing since I was very young. I used to do Marilyn Monroe impressions when I was 8 and Iwould perform at my parents’ dinner parties.
Sam: And I used to record Christmas albums every year and give them out to my family and friends as presents from ages 7-14. So I’m pretty sure we’re soulmates.
Tell us a bit about We The Women Collective and how it came to be.
Nat: We The Women is a nonprofit performing arts collective that Sam & I founded to support and empower women in the arts. It’s easy to get down being an actress in Los Angeles, and feeling like your talent or the way you want to be represented in art isn’t always recognized, and that’s really the genesis of We The Women.
Sam: We wanted to put on great work. Theater is often viewed as a lesser art form in LA because people are so focused on TV & Film, but to be able to tell a fully realized story from beginning to end is such a gift. And we think women happen to be great storytellers and it just so happened that the material we gravitated towards was written and directed by women.
Nat: In terms of becoming a nonprofit, we were really affected by the changes in the world around us and wanted to do the work we loved while contributing to causes that felt meaningful to us. That’s how we partnered with Planned Parenthood.
You’ve acted together, started a business together – how did the two of you come to know one another and why do you think you collaborate so well?
Sam: Honestly, we met doing a bunch of little acting gigs together and it was just a really natural fit. We compliment each other very well. I’m high strung and intense and Nat chills me out. She’s very even keeled.
Nat: I think Sam has the ability to push me past my fears and I am able to reel her in when needed.. and say hey maybe we need to reread this email before pressing send.. but we have a deep respect for one another and it’s actually the perfect balance.
Beyond just supporting female creatives, whether it’s highlighting female artists’ work, donating tickets to student groups, or raising over 30K in one evening for arts education, there seems to be a real focus on giving back in general – even to planned parenthood and other nonarts focused initiatives. Did you anticipate the broader philanthropic side of the collective when you started it or is that something that evolved naturally as things came together?
Sam: At first, when we decided to give our proceeds to Planned Parenthood for our very first We The Women show, we gave 100% of proceeds and didn’t even think we were going to be a Nonprofit eventually. We just wanted to support Planned Parenthood in the best way we knew how, and that was putting on a play.
Nat: But yes, we plan to incorporate a philanthropic and educational aspect to all of the live performance events we produce… That will hopefully be 3 to 5 shows a year. We would like our beneficiaries to be different female centric organizations in Los Angeles. We will choose these based off of the content of the material we select. It is very important to us that these events are accessible to the larger LA community and to student based programs and schools in the area.
You’ve brought so many incredible women together in the LA area – how did you initially spread the word about your mission and was it always easy to wrangle everyone together and get them on board?
Nat: We have the advantage of both being from LA, so we have a vast network of friends and artists that were dying for an opportunity to support and collaborate with women.
Sam: Exactly, we have a really supportive network and they showed up for us which is really cool. But we are still working on spreading the word! The word continues to spread...slowly but surely.
As business owners we still sometimes lament the lack of opportunities for female entrepreneurs to find concrete information and mentorship on the unsexy side of running a business – the stuff that’s not fun but makes it possible to achieve real success. Do you see areas in the arts where opportunities for women can still be problematic?
Sam: Definitely. In entertainment particularly, many more men are in positions of leadership than women, and we’re attempting (at least in our small business) to make sure women are the ones in charge. To have women have the final word and final say on all creative decisions is a pillar of our companies’ model.
Nat: Yes. I think there’s a lot more work to be done but since establishing this company, we have met some incredible people on a similar mission. I feel very inspired by the change that is happening in the world for women and feel very lucky to be a part of the conversation.
There is such variety in the WTWC’s programming – how do you select the projects that you move forward with and how far out do you plan?
Sam: Well for now, we are the artistic directors of We The Women, so we choose all the material and there is no shortage of great plays and works by women who deserve to get their voices out there. We have two years of material we want to produce, now we just need to raise the money to support that dream.
Nat: Now, just coming off our fourth show, we have developed quite a wonderful creative team of women that keeps growing. We have people coming to us or sending us works they are inspired by that they want us to produce. It’s a collaborative effort.
We read somewhere that you describe the collective as “boundaryless”– though you clearly don’t want to put parameters on things, do you have a roadmap or a dream scenario of how you’d like it to evolve?
Sam: We have hopes and goals obviously but we are trying to be as realistic as possible for the time being. We are about to produce our very first short film and that is something we are pretty excited about.
Nat: With an all female crew! And we hope to continue producing more scripted content for TV/FILM and beyond.
Does the current political landscape motivate any of your work?
Nat: Yes. It’s why we started this thing. We want to choose relevant material that contributes to the sociopolitical conversation across the board.
Any upcoming projects you’re extra excited about, and that you can share?
Sam: We’re working on three new plays we are really excited about! You can get some hints if you check out our instagram @wethewomencollective
If people want to get involved or donate, what’s the best way to do this?