Comedian Anastasia Washington was drawn to laughter like a gravitational force. “I actually think comedy was always a therapeutic way for me to process things,” she reflects. “My family was big, loud, diverse, and passionate. It was easy to get lost in the shuffle. I learned that making people laugh diffused chaos and brought the kind of attention I wanted. I also naturally fit the best friend sassy comic relief just existing, and once I embraced that, I truly started to see the changes in my career I was always hoping for.” Humor is an excellent starting point for having difficult conversations. “It puts people at ease. It’s hard to be mad when you are laughing. If done right, it can really make it an even playing field for everyone. Put people in a place to say things without such rigidness and aggression. Don’t get me wrong, there is aggressive comedy. That’s not my style. My style is to offer you a seat at the table and laugh at how silly things are and how just laughing together is one of the solutions to so many of them.” Her topics of choice include police brutality, eating disorders, and colorism. In this respect, her comedy is personal and provides a sense of respite and camaraderie for her audience. “You should write what you know. I have experienced all these things. And sometimes that surprises people. But I think that it’s so important to tell your point of view because you never know who is suffering out there just like you are, and wish they had someone to talk to about it. It makes my heart soar every time someone comes up to me after a show and says, ‘I have experienced that too, and now I don’t feel so alone.’” Discussing colorism is particularly important to Anastasia. “Colorism separates communities that truly need each other. And is the construct of a system of oppression. Truth is within these communities. We need to have each other’s back, not let systems still put us against each other. Sadly, that is what we still see on many different sides. So, I’ll talk about it honestly and from a place of acknowledging both my privileges and disadvantages to hopefully stop some of this division among us and focus ourselves on the bigger things that we need each other for. Stand by each other powerfully, in our beauty in all shades, textures, shapes, and sizes, to say, ‘No, I’m not fighting you, I’m fighting a system that makes me and this beauty next to me feel less than, feel unworthy or in competition.’ And together we say no. We got each other.”
She views creative expression as a primary driver of big change. “I want it to start conversations that go home with people. I want it to make it a subject in school or on social media. I want it to wave empathy, love, and strength across all platforms. And make people feel like they are not alone. That people have their back, and to see people stand up when they see things or hear things. I want it to stop inaction and bring people together one conversation at a time.” Her upcoming self-help book is another avenue through which she hopes to reach those looking to make changes, no matter how small. “It’ll be coming to audible platforms in January. I’m super excited for it. It’s called, You Need to Hear This. It’s a self-help book for people that have a sense of humor and who feel like taking things too seriously, even self-help, is scary. Let’s make it accessible to everyone and not something too out of reach. Like you don’t have to listen to the Goop podcast with an Erewhon smoothie in hand to really make changes in your life. You can still be sassy and loveable. You don’t have to be bougie to help yourself. Nothing is more therapeutic than a brunch talk with the girls. This is that brunch talk.” Anastasia finally accepted that her voice is worth hearing. “When people would tell me, ‘You should give a seminar or write a book,’ I was always like, ‘I’m too silly and what do I know?’ But I realized that I know a lot. I have experienced a ton and I am always there for those I love and even those I don’t. So, I want to help y’all and make you laugh.”
The purpose of the book is to help others feel comfortable lowering the volume of their inner self critic. “I want to release the pressure valve of perfection. To say we all mess up, and we can still be amazing. You are amazing for just getting to this point you have in life. I want to cheer you on as you go forward. And not to sound like a Pixar film or a 70s song but, you got a friend right here that won’t enable you but will have your back.” Everything that her future holds is as a result of her loving support system. “I just love every acting opportunity I have coming my way. And the reception of my projects. I can’t wait to travel with a one woman show more. Make some amazing film and content. And release a comedy special in the near future. I just am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life to collaborate with and I can’t wait for the world to see it all. Because big things are happening because we got each other. And now you got me too!” Life is better with a friend who makes you laugh! Check out Anastasia on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and IMDb.
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Comic Anastasia Washington Packs Brunch Wisdom into Her Self-Help Book, “You Need to Hear This.” Photo Credit: Ben Cope.