Vanessa Rochelle Lewis
Vanessa Rochelle Lewis is a queer, lush-bodied, Black, femme performance artist, writer, actress, filmmaker, educator, facilitator, orator and Faerie Princess Mermaid Gangsta for The Revolution. She loves to flirt, laugh, perform, crack corny jokes, and insert Octavia Butler references into every conversation.
Most recently, Vanessa founded Reclaim UGLY and PleasureNess Literary Academy. She is the former Senior Editor for Everyday Feminism and Black Girl Dangerous; co-host and founder of queer feminist Open Mic, Culture Fuck; director of Queer Black Performance Troupe, Congregation of Liberation, and has taught English at California Community Colleges since 2009. She has been published in As/Us Journal, The Womynist, Full of Crow, Foglifter, Black Girl Dangerous, Everyday Feminism, The Body is Not An Apology, and The Oakland Review Magazine; has written/directed/produced two films that have screened in the Queer Women Of Color Film Festival; has performed in a wide variety of Queer and POC theatre projects and cabarets, and has been a featured reader at literary events all over the Bay Area.
In the summer of 2014, Vanessa co-mc’d the 5th biennial Money for Our Movements: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference in Baltimore. In 2015, she co-produced Black Don’t Crack, a QCC grant winning theatrical production featuring vignettes, poems, and dances collectively written and performed by Congregation of Liberation. In 2016, she co-produced Black Rage; Black Magic, a healing theatre arts workshop that supported Black people impacted by an onslaught of anti-Black police violence and hate crimes process through pain and anger through playwriting and performance. That same year, she also participated in the Radar Feminist Literary Tour, where she traveled across the West Coast sharing her poems at colleges, libraries, theatres, and coffee shops. In 2017, Vanessa offered the keynote at UC Davis's Blaq Out Conference and MC'd the San Francisco Dyke March. Vanessa loves facilitating and has taught workshops and classes on everything from writing to self-love and actualization to teaching and pedagogies.
As a performer, she uses a combination of memoir, poetry, theatre, and feminist storytelling to advance her politix of radical self love, empathy, compassion, resilience, community accountability, critical reflection, healing, and collective liberation. She loves romantic songs, romantic films, romantic books, romantic conversations, romantic friendships, and writing long, vulnerable, passionate facebook statuses about romance and social justice. Vanessa holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College, where she focused on Young Adult Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction.