Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories

Monique Hebert

February 16, 2021 Monique Hebert Season 1 Episode 8
Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories
Monique Hebert
Show Notes Transcript

Mentioned:
Monique Hebert
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Northwest African American Museum
Zia Larson's Ray of Light Foundation

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King County Equity Now

Monique is a writer originally from Ohio and currently living in Seattle, WA. She graduated from Cleveland State University in 2014, and is currently studying Film & Media Studies at Arizona State University. Already quite accomplished, she self published a book about living with an anxiety disorder in 2018, has written for The Mighty, Living Lutheran, Broadway World, and Introvert Dear. Her plays have had staged readings at the Seattle Playwrights Salon, Left Coast Theatre Company, and The Pocket Theatre. Monique is active in her community with a passion for mental health awareness and representation of people of color in theatre. 

Take Notice w Monique Hebert



[00:01 – 05:06]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Welcome to Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories. I am your host Allison Preisinger-Heggins. The mission of this project is to Take Notice, to listen, to hold space by amplifying Black stories, experiences and voices; conversations on family life, finding joy and interests of folks in our country who encounter racism on a daily basis. A portion of these discussions will be dedicated to holding space for guests who are comfortable sharing their personal experiences with racism. Stories help us all learn and connect. We are here to listen to Take Notice. Thank you for being with us. Let us take a moment to recognize to Take Notice of the voices that are so often unheard. Land acknowledgement statements are an important part of honoring those whose land we now live and work on. I have chosen to begin each episode this way to spark ideas and keep these conversations in the front of our minds, so that we may learn how to do better. 

I would like to acknowledge the land on which this episode was created. I would like to show gratitude to the traditional ancestral land of the Shoalwater Bay and Chinook tribes; recognizing that these names are not the original names of the people of these areas. As I continue to learn how to better acknowledge native people of these lands, I will adjust the wording of the beginning of each episode. I encourage listeners to research the land on which you live and are listening right now, recognizing this is just the beginning. Welcome. I hope you are all healthy and warm. Right now we are experiencing some pretty cold weather here in the Pacific Northwest with a little over a month left of winter. Thank you all for listening, for providing your feedback for this project and for engaging in these stories. It means a lot. We have some wonderful interviews lined up to share with you all over the next couple of months and I look forward to connecting with even more guests. 

I had a wonderful time chatting with our guests on this episode Monique Hebert. Monique is a writer originally from Ohio and currently living in Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Cleveland State University in 2014 and is currently studying Film and Media Studies at Arizona State University, already quite accomplished, she self-published a book about living with an anxiety disorder in 2018, has written for the mighty, living Lutheran Broadway World and Introvert Deer. Her plays have had stage readings at the Seattle playwright salon, left Coast Theatre Company and The Pocket Theatre. In our conversation you will get to hear what she is currently working on. I know I look forward to seeing one of her works on stage in the future for sure. Please enjoy this episode with Monique Hebert. Take Notice we would like to take the time to acknowledge Black owned businesses, organizations and artists. 

If you have a suggestion of, who we should highlight during our episodes, please find us on social media or visit our website. King County Equity now is a Black led research, policy, advocacy, and amplification Institute. Engineering and designing, a new normal rooted in equity. They include more than 60, accountable, Black led community based organizations to identify and surface Black community needs and equity solutions. They use their platform, leverages existing networks and land labor resources; technical, professional and community expertise to advocate and collective towards Black liberation. Follow and support on social media or by visiting kingcountyequitynow.com. Alright, thank you, Monique for joining me on Take Notice. How are you today?


Monique Hebert

I am good. Thank you so much for having me. I feel really honored to be able to be here on this podcast today.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins

Oh, I am glad. Yeah, I am so excited to hear what you have to say and your story and everything because we have not met and I am really thrilled that you found Take Notice online and connected. So I am really appreciative that you reached out. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, I am as well. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Awesome! Let us see. So usually we start with a little bit about your background and where you grew up in, who you grew up around. So, if you want to share a little bit about that that would be awesome.


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, so I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I have lived in the Seattle Washington area for about five years now. So, I had most of my primarily growing up and childhood in Cleveland, and I lived in a house with my mom, and then her parents, my grandparents, and then I have an older brother and so, we all live together in Cleveland and my parents divorced when, you know, right before I was born, so it was kind of just my mom always around and we lived in a house and inside of Cleveland that definitely had more of a Black population, so all of our neighbors for Black people. We were very much kind of in the Black community, but outside of my neighborhood… What is really interesting is that there, it was more kind of surrounded by white people, I guess you could say and we went to a predominantly white church growing up, and I went to private schools, so I was pretty much surrounded by white people there as well. 

[05:07 – 10:10]

Monique Hebert 

So, it is always really interesting kind of having my foot in both worlds, as you could say, because I have come home to this neighborhood, into this house, it really celebrated Black culture, but then go into school in church with white people kind of always being the odd one out there, there was a really interesting dynamic growing up.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I can imagine! Did you have to travel a good amount to get to school? Or was it pretty close to where you lived?


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, so I, the high school that I went to in particular Center is a private school, it was pretty far and so it had to get up pretty early to go over. So, it kind of always kind of felt like I was crossing over into a whole new territory, it was in a really kind of ritzy suburb. So, it definitely was a different feel from where I grew up until the kids that went to that school had a very different life and what I had lived up into that point in my neighborhood.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah and I do not know much about Cleveland or Ohio or anything. So, maybe you can describe the area that you grew up a little more compared to where you went to school and things like that and maybe if you have a comparison to Seattle, I cannot remember. How long have you been in Seattle?


Monique Hebert 

About five years. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

About five years. 


Monique Hebert 

Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

So, you probably are familiar with Seattle… 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

As opposed to if it just been a year or something. 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. So if you can share a little about that that would be great.


Monique Hebert 

So, Cleveland definitely feels like a very segregated place to me, still, even today, I went back and I visited like a year or two ago, right before the pandemic and it is just a very segregated place, like kind of where I was on the east side was where you did have a lot of Black people and then as you moved closer to the west side is where there were a lot more white people that lived and so, it always kind of felt like everybody, basically really stuck to their own to go kind of in their own communities and so moving out to Seattle, I thought it was going to be very different than that, I thought like, it was going to be a lot more of a melting pot. But it has been interesting to see how there are neighborhoods that really have cultures of people and then and people kind of do a little bit feel segregated in Seattle as well and that is just not something I was expecting coming from a city where I saw a lot of that I thought Seattle to be really different, socially, that was interesting to see.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, I have heard that from other people and even me, just growing up north of Seattle, like, in a more rural area. I even thought that when I was younger until I lived in Seattle, and was there and realizing, you were talking about Cleveland is kind of East, West. Yeah, it is kind of North, South… 


Monique Hebert 

North, South… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And away. Yeah. So, it is really interesting. Yeah. I do not know where the misconception comes from. But it is very much there. Because people who have come to Seattle have mentioned that to other people that I have talked to. So, yeah, in what ways have you seen… how specifically have you seen how it is ended in Seattle?


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, the north south ends really ring really true to me as well and so, I have always lived kind of south of Seattle, and neighborhoods that I was moving out here five years ago and so when I am down here, and then I go up to the tourists, I happen to go to is also on Sierra. So, as I start moving up, you know, you start to see a lot more different kinds of people and then I have noticed that in schooling as well, and so there is a lot of differences between the schools that are south of Seattle, and the schools that are kind of in Seattle and going north. Yeah, that is the way that I think I see a lot.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, definitely! Yeah. What brought you out to Seattle?


Monique Hebert 

So I wanted something a little different than Ohio. I wanted different flavors; see what else was kind of out there and my aunt lives out here and she always talked about how wonderful the West Coast was and how many opportunities there are out here and so like I knew it was a place that I wanted to explore and a region to be in right after I graduated. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, awesome! Yeah. Because you recently graduated from, was it Cleveland State? 


Monique Hebert 

Cleveland State! Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Awesome! Yeah. Good. What was your degree? What were you focused on in school?


Monique Hebert 

So I was studying English literature. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay. 


Monique Hebert 

At the time, I did not know exactly what I wanted to do with it and sometimes I still do not know. I have done a lot with education and then Nanning and tutoring and things like that. Right now, I think I am focused more on my writing career specifically, and sell them without massive Prague, I have announced studying film and television. So now I feel like I am using it. I really like it.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, man, yeah, I have a music degree. So I understand. Sometimes I am like what, but I would not change it for anything. I definitely use it in ways I would not have expected so that is awesome. Yeah, it seems like you have been using your writing career because our writing degree because I saw on your bio that you have plays that have been performed, multiple theaters in the area and that is really exciting. That is awesome. Maybe you can share, maybe I am jumping ahead a little bit, but maybe you can share a little bit about those plays and how that all came about.


[10:11 – 15:03]

Monique Hebert 

Yeah, so I have always been interesting in writing, I was English major; it was something that I did as a child kind of as a way to escape. I never really thought that I could make a career as a writer until I moved out to Seattle and I think one of the big reasons for that is, I thought a lot about like representation and that is kind of I thought about in preparation for this podcast as well. I just never saw people who looked like me succeeding, especially in the theater, especially from the writing side of it. Because I am not an actor, that is not my skill. It is not my gift at all and so I just kind of never saw that and so I never got the feeling that could have made me that I can write plays and musicals and those kinds of things. So, coming up coming in, then moving to Seattle, and I got to meet a lot of theater makers, different people of color, and just being able to see them out there. 

Writing and telling their story and being accepted really helped me open up the door and give me the space to feel like; this is something that I can do. But I just wonder what that would have been like if I had not experienced yet or had not met the people that I you know, met when I did.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is awesome. What was one of the first groups that you got connected with in Seattle? Do you remember?


Monique Hebert 

I was talking with the Seattle playwright Salon, which is over and Georgetown. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. So kind of meeting with them and had my first kind of set of play down there and then I have also kind of worked with people at 18th in Union, or Santana, as well, until those kinds of places really kind of introduced me to theatre out here. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is great. Yeah, it is so nice when you are able to find that community in a new space, I imagine and be able to connect and just get rolling with what you do. Yeah, that is awesome. Can you tell us a little bit about your plays that have gotten picked up by these theaters? 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

What are their titles? And what are they about in general, or either way.


Monique Hebert 

So I, the first time I ever had done theater was called the mean girl on the best friend and so it was actually born out of a therapy session, where I was talking about how I am the meanest person to myself, like things that I say to myself, I would never say to anybody else, or never say to a friend, and the meanest person in my life is me and so, it kind of came out of that experience, I wrote about a college student who was just kind of the two voices in her head, the negative and the positive, and how they work together and a way to help her go about her day and then that just had another reading in New York with the talking about play festival a couple months ago. So that was really cool. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, interesting. 


Monique Hebert 

I had a musical that was going to be done 18th union, last March, called SMS period and it was shut down the same day because the pandemic, so that was kind of rough having to prepare it, and with the dresser, who was like a couple of days before, and everything was ready, and then it kind of had to drop. But the really cool thing is that we were able to compose her and I mean, it was Haley, and we were able to put a virtual production on and so we just kind of did that over this past weekend, where people across the country get to buy tickets, and watch their production I put together and put on YouTube and so that is kind of about puberty and a young girl growing up coming into her own. It is really light hearted, fun musical. That was fun to write. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is awesome. Did you write the music as well? 


Monique Hebert 

Well, the lyrics and then that were about that. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Yeah. Awesome! Oh, that is so exciting. Wow! 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Nice and really great that you are able to continue and keep that flowing through all the changes that have happened in the last almost year, I guess. Yeah, that is really great. Oh, that is exciting. 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wonderful! Going back a bit, you grew up with, you said, your grandparents, your mom and your brother. Did you say your older brother or younger brother? 


Monique Hebert 

Older! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Older brother… What does he do? 


Monique Hebert 

So, he is a chef, and he actually ended up moving out here about a year and a half ago.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is cool. Great! Awesome! He kind of followed you out. 


Monique Hebert 

Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Nice. So does he have a job at a restaurant in the area or…?


Monique Hebert 

He does, so he currently cooks at a nursing home. So he is right on. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. That is good. Yeah. I imagine it is tough for chefs and restaurant right now to…


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is probably pretty solid have your job security for sure. 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is good. Is he do you know, is he enjoying that Seattle area so far?


Monique Hebert 

He is, yeah, he took a very different route than I did. So, he joined the military right after high school. So, he kind of lived all over the country and so he got to experience a lot and coming out here, he does not only loves it and thinks this is the place that he wants to be. So that is pretty. 


[15:04 – 20:32]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, great! That is exciting. Cool. I am glad. Yeah. Well, Welcome to you both. As someone who has grown up here, I am actually I am living on the peninsula now. In the Seattle area, just because of COVID, I do not think we would have been living here otherwise. But a few months ago, we moved out here, so but the Seattle area is home. So welcome. 


Monique Hebert 

Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And I am glad is provided opportunities for you both. It is really, the Seattle has changed so much in the last, even just in the last seven years or something. You have probably noticed the change even just in the last five years, I imagine. So it is really interesting. So I am glad that there are still opportunities for creative and things. Well, because that is part of what seems to be shifting. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And needs to find the needs to find its home again, I think… Yeah, it is it is so wild right now. But yeah, well, did you have a specific story or two that you wanted to share? 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay.


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. So, I am, I want to talk a little about my grandparents first because they raised me and played a very big role in my life and they ended up passing away in 2014, a couple of weeks of each other. So that was really interesting, was very rough time. But so they were both born in the south, and then moved up to Ohio, not together separately, kind of in the late 1940s, early 1950s. So, they were kind of part of that great migration, where a lot of Black folks were coming from the south and moving up north, for better opportunities and things like that. So to be able to be in a household with my grandparents would experience so much and it is such a different upbringing and I did, I think was really helpful and helped me feel rooted in the Black experience, because for a long time going to school and church being surrounded by so many non-Black people kind of got difficult and I think with them being there and keep me grounded and showing all those toys really helped. 

And then every summer, we would go down and visit their families. So, my grandfather was from Louisiana, my grandmother was from Alabama. So, we would always go down and visit their families and also take in a lot of the kind of history and I used to say culture of, you know, those areas in the time period that they grew up in. I remember going to like the Edmund Pettis Bridge, and Selma Alabama, where a Bloody Sunday happened and in my grandmother, they are like walking me through that and helping me have an understanding of that and that was really beneficial as well, because that is not something that I was getting in my school classes, like in my history books as an elementary school student, we were not learning about these kinds of things we were not learning about, like my history and so to be able to have somebody, who could kind of walk me through those things first hand was really helpful. 

When somebody went to Memphis and saw the National Civil Rights Museum, which is based on the hotel where my Luther King Jr. was shot at and 68 people to be there and that space and I went with my family, we are kind of doing like a reunion until all of us went together. I remember being very young, but just being really taken with, like, how emotional everybody else was and I am very much empathy. So like, even though I fully did not understand the weight of the situation, and what had happened, just seeing the adults around me their emotions, and their reaction to it, all was like always really telling. So, I just really thankful that I had people in my life, my grandparents specifically that really helped me learn about Black history, because it was not something that I was getting in school. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Yeah. Oh, I imagined that so powerful and important. What did they do? And also, when did they end up moving? Do you know how old they were when they moved north?


Monique Hebert 

Pretty young! So I would say like 20s, like maybe mid late 20s, somewhere around that, because they moved and then met each other in Ohio, got married and had kids. Kind of interesting when I think about my own life, how I moved in my 20s as well, kind of across the country into a whole different, you know, state that I did not know much about it was the same kind of voids with data. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, yeah, that is true and interesting parallel between two in different times and everything. Yeah. Oh, great. What did they do for a living?


Monique Hebert 

But my grandmother was a nurse and my grandfather worked for the IRS.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay, awesome! Tax man, that is great. Awesome! One of my grandparents was a nurse as well. My grandma was a nurse. Yeah, that is awesome. Wonderful! Yeah. I imagine because in especially in a school that is predominantly white, I am just thinking about what I learned in high school and before in our, for American history in massive gaps and I am just learning now, I mean, in the past five years or so with those massive gaps where because I did not have an influence, like, it sounds like you had, you know what I mean? So, and it is so important and impactful and I imagined in a completely different way for you then for me, you know so... 


[20:33 – 25:39]

Monique Hebert 

I think it kind of really helped me understand who I am, because I think I am somebody that is struggling with identity for a lot of my life. So like I said, I grew up in these kinds of white schools, in these white circles and then I ended up transferring schools, my last two years of high school and went to an inner city school and Cleveland, it was the first time that I was surrounded by Black parents, kids that were my own age, that was also a difficult transition as well, because I felt like I did not fit in with him either and so being with it, having to go from these white schools, where I was almost too Black and then go to this this Black school kind of thing to white. 

It definitely made me question a lot of things about myself, like who I am, what kind of person I want to be with my wife, I want to lead and know that I had my grandparents at home through all those times, I think, like I said, really grounded me and helped me be able to understand that I am a Black person and this is my version of Black and even if it does not fit into necessarily what the kids at school think it is, you know, this is who I am and this is my history, and I am proud of it. So, I am just, I cannot say enough good things about how thankful I am for them. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is wonderful. Oh, good and you were still living in Cleveland and in Ohio when they passed. Right. So were you around when that when that happened?


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. So I was in the same house with them, still living. I was still going through my last year of college, and my grandmother got cancer and so she died first and then my grandfather got sick out of nowhere. He was fine before that. I guess. Some people die very close together. They say it is kind of like a love sickness. Like they just cannot be without that other person and so then he ended up dying a couple of weeks later, he had a stroke. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, wow! Yeah. That is hard to imagine. Yeah, but nice also that you were able to be, you were not in Seattle yet. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

You are able to act this. Yeah, I can imagine if you had been further away. If I had been further away from when my grandparents passed, that would be hard, so… 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is wonderful how important they were and the impact that they had, and that you got to live with them that whole time. That is a unique experience I imagined. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Did you have any other specific stories that you were hoping to share today? Before I asked other questions?


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. I was going to talk a little bit about what I have done out here in Seattle, besides playwriting, I am a really big mental health advocate. I am somebody who has definitely struggled a lot with mental health in the past and continuing today and so I am always like advocating therapy and things like that and one of the cool things that I want, the groups I got to be a part of was the National Alliance on Mental illness and the Seattle chapter, there was a program that they do call it ending the silence, which is where they go around to different middle schools, high schools, churches, youth groups, colleges, basically all the kinds of groups that there are, and give them information and gives a presentation about mental health and so there is a PowerPoint where they get to talk about all the things around stigma, mental health, and give the kids resources and then somebody usually shares their story about living with a mental health condition. 

And so, I used to do a lot of that when I first moved out here and got to go to a lot of different schools and I was just want to talk about my experience going to schools where they had predominantly kids of color, and being able to provide that representation for them as standing here as a Black woman saying that I struggled with anxiety, depression is so powerful to them when they have never seen anybody look like them ever speak on those kind of words and I know for myself growing up, mental health was not really talked about, we talked about a lot of things and I failing, but that definitely was not one of them and being from the source as well, that was not something that we were going to, you know, spend a lot of time discussing either and so to be able to go to those scopes, specifically students in college, simply Black students and tell them where I am. 

And here is my experience and how this seems to kind of open the door to us having more conversations on that has really been able to help me just in my life in general. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

You have written a book on anxiety disorders, is that right? 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I would love to hear more about that as well and the work that you still do that work with that group, or was that just something that kind of started you in on this? 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah. So I still work with Niyami occasionally. I am not as much as I used to anymore. But the book I wrote is called anxiety, anxiety, why do you have a hold on me and it is a series of poems that I wrote about living with an anxiety disorder, I was diagnosed in college, and did not really know much about anxiety, had a very limited background on mental health and so I wanted to write it, to share my experience as a young woman dealing with this to encourage other people, also, maybe to educate people more about different mental health concerns and things like that, that should really be taking seriously, and really lucky that I have been really supported in that and not unusually supportive. 

[25:40 – 30:06]

Monique Hebert 

And I think Niaymi got connected with the Zia Larson Ray of Light Foundation, which was founded by a woman in Seattle who lost her son and their goal is specifically to talk to Black people about mental health and suicide awareness and prevention and they had their gala two years ago at the Northwest African American Museum and I got to be one of the speakers there to kind of present my story and what I went through and talk about my book as well and I just remember giving the speech, I was really, really nervous before, because it was the first time that I was giving a speech in front of just a, you know, predominantly people of color and so, I was not sure how I was going to fully be accepted. But just the love and the warmth that I felt from everybody was so overwhelming and the amount of conversations I had after the speeches were over with people who came up and shared their entourage or health, or their kids or their daughter, their sister, whatever. 

And just the level that they could relate to it and love it, they could relate to it also like being Black people and saying, this is not something that we had talked about before and just being able to talk about it feels so freeing; it was like a weight is lifted off of our shoulders and I was just overwhelmed with the response that night.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, I imagine that would be kind of scary to walk into and to have such an overwhelming, positive response. That is beautiful. That is really great. Oh, and such important work, too. Because just in our culture in general, I think it has not been that far back that people just did not talk about going and getting help. It was always a stigma or taboo to like, go to a therapist or go to a counselor or something, it was just shown in this particular light and I think what you are doing and what you are talking about is so important, because so many people in our culture have anxiety and have depression and the only way that you really… are not the only way, but like a massive way that you can get through it is to know that you are not the only one. So and not the only one in your particular as a woman or in your instance, as a Black woman, you know, you are not the only one in that community. That is feeling that is going through something that is difficult. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, that is there is a lot of power in that and that need to be able to provide that for people is just very important to me and I feel very grateful that I have been able to do that and be able to have those incidents where I can talk about my story, because I think a lot about when I was really struggling and undergrad, I would have never thought that one day I will be sharing this story in front of crowds of people and being able to help them and like I said, specifically people of color. I just did not ever see that as a reality that I could do and so to be able to do it here today. It is like it is mind blowing sometimes when I stop and think about it. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I bet. Yeah, that is so wonderful. Yeah, I cannot imagine in undergrad, I think that is when I first learned personally, about the word anxiety. I mean, I would hear it before but you know, to relate it to myself, I had not considered it until undergrad, until you are in college and there is all that pressure and stuff. So, I do not know if that is how it was for you as well. But that was definitely and then to like in those moments where you are so anxious and like ruminating in those years, you are like nobody needs to know this. Like, I am never going to share this ever. 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

But so, you know such strength that you were able to get past that to be able to share that that is really looking for…


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, I definitely felt the same. It all kind of come to my head in college and I think I you know, always had anxious tendencies and always kind of struggled with anxiety, can pinpoint times in high school and maybe in middle school when I was slightly feeling it. But I think if I had kind of had the tools to realize that there was something going on, and had been able to reach out to an adult or organization or you know, just had all these resources that I like to give people today. You know, I would have ended up I think a lot better situation. I have been able to have a more successful college years specifically like those they are really rough and so it would have been something that I would not have had to suffer with so much. I think about that a lot. Yeah.


[30:07 – 35:11]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, absolutely! Just having a little more awareness and background and resources; for sure. Yeah. I can definitely relate to that and understand that. Yeah and now you have a book surrounded by that as well, which is such an accomplishment in itself, and it is a book of poetry. Is that, right? 


Monique Hebert 

Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is awesome. Where is your kind of your spotlight shifted to, at the moment, more plays and more musicals or more books? Or what are your goals set on right now?


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, spotlight has definitely shifted on to theater right now. I tend to write a lot more plays and musicals. I just always loved theater and it is such a big passion of mine. So it kind of feels like, you know, my goals now, I am writing a couple of different musicals and always have, like, you know, play ideas and in my mind somewhere, and so that is kind of where the focus is right now. But it kind of takes you back to that what I said about representation, because I think theater needs a lot more representation for Black people as well. Like I said in the beginning, that something growing up that I really did not see, and I actually was thinking back on a story with my grandmother about that, so there was a musical growing up called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream coat, which was an Andrew Lloyd Webber show and as a kid, I used to watch the VHS tape, and it had like Donny Osmond in it, and they are all white cast and it was great. 

It was like the best thing ever for me and my grandmother, there is a theater in Cleveland called the Kira movie theater, and it was specifically a Black owned Theatre Company and so they were doing just meta-theatrical a dream code, as one of their productions. So, I grabbed I said, you love this, let us go see it and so to be able to see the cast that was all Black, so Seamus Joseph, that looked like me, just like, I do not know, it just broke me up and it really did something inside of me, that really helped me see that theater needs to be something that is diverse, so that other kids can kind of have that experience where I had, where I am just seeing this cast that looks like me up there, singing and bringing such a joy to something that I had only kind of known as a white thing, I guess you could say. So, I think a big goal of mine now to be able to provide that representation for theatre makers in theater lovers just in general. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, absolutely! I can only imagine how powerful that would be, especially as a kid after seeing such a lack of representation and then yeah, so that is an awesome goal. I would love to hear more about what is going on and where that takes you in the future as well. Yeah, that is awesome. What kind of opportunities are you working on at the moment? Or do you have little fires happening everywhere?


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, so the latest musical I am working on is based off of a book I read, called, how does it feel to be a problem being young in Arab and America? And so there is a US story in there about a young girl, who is a Muslim girl in Brooklyn, New York, who is running to be student council president, as told that she cannot because of her religion, and her some of her religious beliefs, does not allow her to go to a school dance and so she kind of fights the system and ends up being able to be president and so I have adapted it and taking it in writing a musical with that composer and so we just kind of started fleshing that story out and I really like that because it is once again an opportunity to provide representation to Muslim theatre makers, especially, which is just a, you know, an area in theory that you do not see and so to be able to bring that I think, is really cool and it is a really great story and it is a true story and so I just really gravitated to it and knew that it is something that I wanted to adapt one day.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is awesome. That sounds like a great story. I am looking forward to seeing that. Hopefully, in person… 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, good. Oh, that is exciting. Yeah, I am still, I am just so thrilled that you and people are still able to create right now, you know what I mean? Some people are just burnt out by it. I feel I am in a little in a bit, a little way. But yeah, that is so exciting that you are able to still collaborate and get things moving and going and in such an important field of representation, and true stories and interesting stories. That sounds really exciting.


Monique Hebert 

I think I was definitely brought out when the, you know, the shutdowns kind of first happened. Like I was not very creative at all and I remember telling somebody that they are, you know, most writers are either being really, really super creative and turning it out and then some Like not doing anything, and I was definitely not doing anything count. But it is all kind of rolled around and I just kind of got back out there and then just started creating again, which is good, because then I started to feel more like myself. 


[35:12 – 40:04]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Definitely! Yeah, I hear you. Yeah. I think more recently, because at the beginning of it too, I was like, you know, I think I am burnt out anyway. Not really conscious of it, but like, it is fine. I just need a break and then more recently, like, alright, where is the live music? 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

When can I play with people again? 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

When can I go to shows go to plays go to… 


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is definitely passed for me as well. So, but that is good. Yeah, and getting back to creating as well. So that is exciting. Good. Well, I have two questions that I ask all of my guests. So we will get to those. So what brings joy or fun into your life?


Monique Hebert 

So, I would say, you know, the joy is, it is writing, my ferrets, you know, creating this, I think kind of that makes me feel more alive. I am more thankful to be alive than writing and it is something that I am always kind of treasured as my thing and it is very therapeutic for me, so many times really struggling. It is something that I turn to, and I love being able to tell a story and have it affect people and have it spark conversations, because those are things that I love when I go see, you know, shows, phones, movies, TV show, whatever. I like being able to have that kind of conversation and so it brings me so much joy, knowing that I can kind of create those stories and hoping that I can send those out into the universe and see what happens from there.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Did you write since you were a little kid, or?


Monique Hebert 

I did. Yeah, I always kind of came up with do you know, stories and ideas or little songs or things like that. It was just always just my hobby and to degree, it still is a hobby, because there are things that I write that I feel like are just for me that nobody sees, and there are things that I write to try to, you know, send out there and see what I can make of them and I think that is what I like about it and I can keep some things for me and some things I can send out there.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, definitely! Yeah. You do not have to share it all.  


Monique Hebert 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Oh, good. Yeah, I have written since I was really little as well, just like journaling or diaries or things like that. It is always an outlet. Would you call your… you do not have to answer this. But I am just curious, because I think I read in your bio as well something about this. But would you call yourself an introvert? 


Monique Hebert 

Yes.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yes. 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, very much so…


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Really? 


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, I live in my head. You know sofas and couches, I am sure up there, it is just, and you know, daily kind of dialogues. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Monique Hebert 

And writing also helps me I think; navigate the world better, because sometimes it shows so energy draining and so if I am having an experience or something being able to write it out, is a tool that I use to be able to help me make sense of things and process things and really be able to move forward and I do not know how successful I would be out in the world if I did not have that.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Absolutely! Yeah, that is great, really great that you were able to find that to that thing that you were able to use as an outlet and a price. Alright, so our next question that we ask everybody is what would make you feel genuinely equal?


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, I really love this question. Like, it is such a good question. Because I think it is something that is really important to reflect on it and makes people kind of stop and think a lot, because I had to take a bet and stop and think about my answer and it came down to… so my brother, my older brother has a son who is 11 and he has a baby on the way; he has a little girl that is due in March. So you know, right around the corner. So he will have two kids, two kids of color that are going to be out into the world and so I thought about, you know, the things that we, you know, as family, you know, all of us are going to have to teach these kids and things that we are going to have to share with them and stories about how that they are going to be perceived out in the world, everything from, you know, when you are in a storm, try to keep your hands, you know, to your sides, or does not look like people assume you are stealing or having to have conversations about the police with them and police brutality and about how they are just going to be perceived because of their skin color and how there is going to be so much injustice that they see and that happens to them. 

And so the day that I do not have to have that conversation with them, I think is a day that I will feel equal. Yeah and so that kind of really struck me and that you know, kind of made me sad that we are here in 2020, 2021 having to have those kinds of conversations. But when I also think back of the conversations my grandparents had with me and how their lives were so different than I know my niece and nephew live, they are going to be, at least I am hoping will be there is a bit of hope in that. 

[40:05 – 43:12]

Monique Hebert 

But it is still hard because that is, you know, I know that is conversations that we are going to have to have with them and so when the day that we do not have to, you know, have those conversations with kids, kids of color Black children is when I think I would, you know, feel equal and represented and heard and seen.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, absolutely! Thank you for that answer now. Alright! Is there anybody or any business or your own work, or that we have not mentioned or anything that you would like to promote or highlight or share?


Monique Hebert 

Mentioning some of the ones that I already had like that National Alliance on Mental illness, the Seattle chapter, they are a great resource for people to use. They have an in silence program, they have support groups, they have a number that you can call in, like a hotline number, and they are starting to open up and have more things specifically for people of color to try to start both those communities up. The Northwest African American Museum is a great place to go and I think it is been mentioned on the show multiple times before. But moving here, I remember when the first time I went to it, I was blown away, and just the history there and the things that I learned about this area in particular, and that made it so unique and then that Zia Larson Ray of light Foundation, which I talked about brings suicide awareness, especially in Black communities is a really another great organization. They have a walk run that happens, where they raise money and so they are another great one to check out as well. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing all those resources and those folks. I look forward to checking them all out and we will have them all available on our website, so people can find them easily. Yeah, I still need to visit the Northwest African American Museum since they did their remodel. I went before a couple years ago now. So, I am due for a visit if they are open at the moment, or whenever they open again if they are not now. Anyway! So, thanks for making them again. Yeah, and I look forward to seeing some of your plays in the future. I am excited for that and I am really, really glad that you found us and have really enjoyed hearing your story and all you had to share today. So thank you very much for being there. 


Monique Hebert 

Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yes. Thank you.


Monique Hebert 

Yeah, I am so glad to be a part of this conversation and I love this podcast, and the other episodes are amazing, and anybody should go check those out as well and I am just really thankful for this. Thank you.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, thank you. I appreciate the feedback. We are just getting started. So, sometimes I am like alright, I hope, I appreciate that very, very much. Awesome! Well, thank you very much Monique, for joining me and I hope to talk to you again soon. 


Monique Hebert 

Thanks.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Thank you for joining us for Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories. Please subscribe and follow us on social media. We are at Take Notice podcast. It would really help us out if you could take a couple of minutes to review our podcast. Thank you for your support. Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories is produced, hosted and edited by Allison Preisinger-Heggins, coproduced by Amanda Rae, music by Version Big Fi featuring Darius Higgins, thank you for being with us and thank you for taking notice.