This week, in honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to write about a woman who inspires me.
I have so many women who inspire me. My mom, my sister, all of my peers. Of course, any of these women seemed like natural, and somewhat obvious, choices to write about.
But then, I thought about someone who operates in a way that I want to operate, which is from the future.
She operates from a future where peace governs the earth and imagination reigns. A future that is a freer, better world, where we don’t have International Women’s Day, because there’s no inequality in the world.
There’s no stigmas, there’s no “don’t say gay,” there’s no war.
And that woman is Yoko Ono.
I love her, I admire her, and she has truly changed my life.
Back in 2018, I did my first collaboration with Levi’s around the time of the Parkland shooting. Matthew and I got all these amazing women to star in it, like Sarah Paulson, Yara Shahidi, Holland Taylor, Tracee Ellis Ross, SZA - truly phenomenal women.
And they all came for free, because we were donating my fees and profits to Everytown for Gun Safety.
So we did this film, and our friend Noah edited it and put it to a song called “Yang Yang,” by Yoko Ono. He picked Yoko Ono because he knew I was obsessed with a piece from her book, Grapefruit.
This track was amazing, and worked so perfectly, but we were pretty certain we wouldn’t get the rights. Someone at Levi’s reached out, and of course, Yoko’s lawyers politely declined.
The thing is, the track made so much sense to me. It just felt right.
So I did what I knew was best.
I hand wrote Yoko a letter, and I included a little drawing. And I’m not going to tell you what I wrote, but I took a photo of the letter and I sent it to her.
Well, days later, I was in New York when I got word. Yoko said, “yes.” Not only would she be giving us the song, but she’d be donating it for free.
It was honestly one of the best days of my life.
From there, Levi’s announced that they’d give 1 million dollars to gun safety, and take a public stand as part of the campaign. This was a big deal. Back then, brands really weren’t taking a strong stance on things like gun safety. It wasn’t the norm yet to be political.
And look, reader, I know that I was the one who pushed them to do it. Period.
It was such an amazing, monumental day. It was just, aligned. Even though on the surface, her experience may seem so different from those families in Parkland, it wasn't. Yoko’s life was so tragically, so unfairly, influenced by gun violence. And when Levi’s made that announcement, and that video went out, she tweeted about it, and she posted about it too. It meant something to her, too.
Because hope, and peace - that’s what Yoko’s life has been about. In the documentary, “Under the Sky,” she says that she was born to bring the song “Imagine” to John Lennon. Isn’t that the most incredible thing you’ve ever heard? 51 years later, she recently put billboards up around the world, asking us to “Imagine Peace.”
Yoko Ono will never stop asking us to imagine a future of peace. And that’s why she’s exactly who I’m thinking about this week.
And no, I’ve never let anyone see my letter, and I’m never going to.
Instead, I’m just going to frame it, folded as it is.
Women’s Day. 365.24.7
P.S. I want to know more about this little community we’ve built on Bulletin. Comment below and tell me one person who has totally changed your life.
And, you can watch the film here!