Camila Cabello was honored today on Variety‘s Power of Women event, presented by Lifetime, for her work with the Movement Voter Fund to launch the Healing Justice Project.
Along with fellow honors Drew Barrymore, Kim Cattrall, Queen Latifah and Amanda Seyfried, Cabello stepped onto the white carpet ahead of the event and took the opportunity to talk about the ongoing debate over abortion rights — it was revealed earlier this week that the United States Supreme Court has decided to quash Roe v. Wade, dismissing the case that has guaranteed basic abortion rights in the US since 1973.
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“It’s horrible,” Cabello said. “Of course it will affect poor women the most, because women who have resources – even like me – can handle things when they are needed. The idea that one moment can change the course of a woman’s life is tragic. And it’s tragic [that] the affected people have nothing to say.”
Cabello encouraged women to “get involved…voting at the local level so that we have state and local legislators representing our interests is really important. Clearly donating can make a difference. And also be loud and angry about it.”
Later that evening, actor and artist Billy Porter, who co-starred with Cabello in “Cinderella,” took the stage to introduce the 25-year-old. He described Cabello as “luminous” and “filled with passion”, noting her zeal and conviction despite being nervous about her first lead role in “Cinderella”. (Porter played the fairy mother.) “She takes everything she does very seriously, including breaking the stigma of mental health awareness and activism,” he said. “I find myself so moved that someone so young is so present. It is time to honor and embrace those who stand behind us, who are ready to change the world.”
Cabello, dressed in a Maria Lucia Hohan dress, thanked Porter and recalled: “It’s true; I was shaking in my boots, and he got me. What a gigantic soul Billy has. I’m really grateful to him.”
She then used her comments to embrace the benefits of therapy when it came to her own mental health, and to shed light on the “grandmothers of the world,” she said, reciting poems by Alice Walker.
Read Cabello’s speech in its entirety below and go here for her Variety Power of Women cover story.
Thank you, Variety, to bring us here at a time when women’s rights in America are under greater threat than at any time in the past 50 years. We are gathered here tonight not only to celebrate the strength of women, but to amplify it for the many battles ahead.
Venus, Kim, Queen Latifah, Amanda, Drew: It’s really surreal standing here next to you. I knew I would have the feeling I have now. Listening to these incredible women makes me feel so excited and with so much hope for the world. And it feels like walking out of here, we can fucking change the world. We can’t do it all in one day, but we can do a little at a time.
So many of my generation have been fortunate enough to have you as role models who embody the generous, intelligent, powerful women we aspire to be.
And when I think of the ‘power of women’, I think of all of you, of course, all the compassion, creativity and opportunity just in this room – yes! — but I also think of the women in my family who have been a huge inspiration to me all my life:
My mother who has started over so many times in her life. From leaving her architecture degree and living in Cuba, to moving to Mexico, then moving to the United States and starting over – again. She has always had that unwavering sense of courage, in people and in life. Despite everything she went through, she lived by the rule of generosity. Not just literally sharing food or money when she barely had any herself, but generosity of time, energy and kindness. This quality goes back generations in my family. My mother always said that my great-grandmother, Yeya, taught her that same generosity of spirit. … That same compassion and care for others. I am so lucky to be surrounded by generations of women who taught me so much and who went through so much to get us where we are today.
When I think of the power of women, I also think of the way women take care of the world and everyone in it.
I think of the poet Alice Walker who wrote in one of my favorite poems:
I call on all the Grandmothers of the Earth and every person
the Grandmother spirit of respect for life
& protection of the young to rise and lead.
I see the spirit of grandmothers – that’s grand, space, mothers, as Walker put it so beautifully – in so many faces of my friends and so many of you.
I see it in everyone fighting for equality, opportunity and justice – and yes, reproductive justice – on the front lines.
I see it in our history: in countless women, remembered and forgotten, who fought for their families, their communities and our world.
When Alice Walker wrote “Calling All Grand Mothers,” I was only 13 years old. At the time, I couldn’t imagine singing in front of people – or talking in front of people – let alone in front of the world on stage.
I was super shy back then to sing in front of people. In my teens and early twenties, I struggled with anxiety that felt crippling at some points. My mental health was at an all-time low. I don’t know how I would have survived if my mother hadn’t been there. She helped me find the therapist and treatment that changed my life, as well as my manager, who is here (hey Roger [Gold]†
All that made it hard for me to socialize and just be human. I had no room for anything else because my own struggle to just be okay swallowed everything up. I needed all the tools I could get and the resources at my disposal allowed me to not only survive, but now thrive. During my treatment, much of which happened during the pandemic and after, I suddenly found that I had room for creativity again, for intimate friendships, for new hobbies, for activism. And those things made me feel more connected, grounded and more myself than ever.
I realized I can’t pour from an empty cup – I can’t be there for my career or my family or my community if I don’t find the space to heal myself. It was a difficult lesson to learn, because as women, we are often expected to be everything, to everyone, all the time.
That’s one of the reasons I started working with Movement Voter Fund to create the Healing Justice Project.
Just as women often feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, frontline organizers — especially women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others with marginalized identities — give everything they have every day to make our world a better place.
It is often unrecognizable, thankless work, and it involves long hours, lack of resources and tons of emotional – and often traumatic – experiences. The healthcare costs for these organizers are too high. We cannot afford to lose passionate, experienced, effective leaders at the forefront of our nation’s right-wing movements – and they should not be forced to lose themselves because we are not creating the space, time or resources for them to to thrive.
Through the Healing Justice Project, we empower organizers to focus on their own healing, while also addressing the generational systemic violence and oppression felt by so many communities. They are constantly giving all of themselves, but rarely have the support to fill their own cup.
My journey to mental health has shown me that whoever you are, no matter how much you love what you do, you can’t move forward if you don’t have the resources, time, space, and tools to heal.
I realized how important it is to take care of myself, but more than that, I realized I need to help others do the same, to make sure the grassroots organizers who carry our world on their shoulders and move us forward have access to the resources that helped change everything for me.
Ultimately, the idea is both simple and powerful:
To heal the world, we must be able to heal ourselves, together. And vice versa, to heal ourselves, we must help heal the trauma, oppression and heartbreak that is always present in our world.
For my mother. To all the women who help me heal – who help heal the world;
To all the women who supported me, loved me and brought me here;
To everyone who pours that same “Grandmother Spirit” into the next generation: thank you.
As Alice Walker wrote:
Step forward and take the role
what you were made for:
for health, happiness and mental health.
Let’s all embrace this responsibility—for the communities we serve and the future we share. Thank you. What a beautiful event.
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