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Spirited Woman Interviews by Nancy Mills
Nancy Mills : Marlow Wyatt Interview

Interview with Marlow Wyatt, Founder of the Girl Blue Project

By Nancy Mills

I met Marlow Wyatt because of Roz Browne, the comedienne, who has attended several Spirited Woman Workshops. Roz said, "Hey Nancy, you just got to check The Girl Blue Project out. Go to their fundraiser. You'll be knocked out by the girls' performances and Marlow is the best." Okay, Roz, I'll go, I said. So on a Sunday afternoon I drove to Hollywood, sat in a theater, and cried tears of inspiration for these uplifting girls and their director. Roz, was right, I was knocked out.

Marlow is the founder and director of The Girl Blue Project, a self-awareness program for teenage girls whose purpose as stated is "committed to awakening the truest potential in young women by empowering them to embrace who they are and giving them the tools to create whom they choose to be."

A native of Kansas City, Marlow worked as a performer, writer and director for many youth programs in Washington D.C. and New York before moving to LA. But it wasn't until she volunteered as a tutor in the school system here, and became really frustrated by its limitations that this B.F.A. magna cum laude graduate of Howard University decided to take a stand and do something about it. Three years later, Marlow's highly creative mind, body, and spirit oriented project has taught more than 50 girls, from ages 14-18.

For seven weeks during the summer, the program combines yoga, a self-awareness circle, creative writing, etiquette, acting, music, coaching, money management, community service, and more to teach the girls to value themselves by promoting discipline, non-judgment, self-acceptance, and self-discovery. It is a marvelous concept.

Each year, it costs $10,000 to run The Girl Blue Project. Marlow takes no salary, and presently the program is $5,000 short of funds. For those of you who are deeply inspired by this story (as I am), I urge you to contact Marlow. Her vision is making a huge difference for our children. Now, read on.

Q.
Was there an event or inspirational moment that led you to found The Girl Blue Project?

A.
I was a was a tutor for the LA Times' Reading by 9 Program and I worked in an elementary school and I tutored a young girl who was dyslexic. She ended up being my special student because she was so far behind. She was in the 5th or 6th grade and reading on a 2nd grade level. How she got to the 6th grade I will never know and they were actually going to pass her on to middle school even though they knew she couldn't read and that she wasn't ready and didn't understand basic words like "there." It really kind of broke my heart. I would come home everyday and I'd call my friend and complain what the school wasn't doing and then I realized I was just being one of those people who were just being reactive and not pro-active. Instead of complaining, I thought I can do something. And so I started The Girl Blue Project and I literally put the curriculum together and everything else in one month. It was very much if you build it they will come. I went door to door to advertise to let people know that I was starting a free program and that their girls were welcome.

Q.
What is The Girl Blue Project?

A.
It is a self-awareness program for teenage girls. It is really developed to nurture the girls from the inside out. Something that I think we need in our school system in order to build their self-esteem so that they are more open and less fearful of learning, that they are not worried about body image and all of these things that they should not be concerned with while they're in school trying to learn and grow as human beings on this planet. A woman's worth in this country right now is how she looks as opposed to a man's worth. So a woman who is beautiful, voluptuous can get further along financially and is treated quite differently than girls who are not considered beautiful by today's standards. We have so many things in the media telling us to change — which in turn tells the girls that they are not good enough, which builds low self-esteem, which affects every single thing that they do. So that is what The Girl Blue Project is working toward helping the girls live up to their fullest potential of every aspect of themselves starting from the inside.

Q.
What is the underlying concept it teaches the girls?

A.
We teach them self-worth. We combine it with the performing arts and community service where they are trained by KorehLA to actually tutor elementary kids once a week. Also, self-awareness is three-fourths of the program so they have a life coach. We do a lot of work books on body image and family and their connections. A lot of them have issues with men because they don't have fathers in their lives. We work with them really where they are. Each group seems to have its own personality, so each group of girls is dealt with on an individual basis — that's why we don't take more than 20 per session.

Q.
Why the name Girl Blue — what does it signify?

A.
It actually comes from a poem I've written called "Blue," about a girl whose name was Blue and she had been molested by a cousin of hers and she was a very smart girl — but she managed out of all the things that happened to her as a child to grow into this young woman who really knew who she was and lived up to her fullest potential. She did good things with her life. So it was really a combination of people I knew growing up and things that had happened to them. Girl Blue is really not just one person.

Q.
Why do you choose such books as The Four Agreements and Don't Give It Away as the basis for your curriculum?

A.
"The Four Agreements" actually was a book I saw on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. She talked about how the book changed her life and it made me go out and get it. It changed my life completely. It's a very simple book, not complicated. Anybody at any age can understand, if it is explained to them. It teaches you to take responsibility for your life. And there literally are just four simple agreements: be impeccable with your word, don't make assumptions, always do your best, and don' take anything personally. But it goes into depth about what that means and how it will affect your life. So that you can live a peaceful and happy and fulfilled life. "Don't Give it Away" is a work book specifically designed for teen girls and it really has a lot of affirmations in it about being beautiful and how you truly feel and expressing that.

Q.
You are very close to your parents — what is the one major life lesson that they taught you?

A.
To give unconditionally, and that it doesn't take money to make something work it takes a commitment. And one thing that I can say about my parents were that they were very committed to me. My biological father I've only met three times in my life. I was adopted by my mother's second husband when I was fourteen. And that changed my life to have a man who would take me in as his own and give me his name and treat me as his blood. It changed my life completely. So because of him, I know what it is to take care of somebody else that is not your blood relative and love them and nurture them just because. That is what we are put here on this planet I believe. Because of him, I'm able to give that same kind of nurturing to these girls who are not my relatives.

Q.
How are you able to take seven weeks off from your other work and still support yourself?

A.
Well, I work in the theater. Last year I'd leave Girl Blue and go directly to my job. They would allow me to do this — because they actually support the program, which means so much to me. So I saved money for this year. I work for the Los Angeles Opera in the audience services department. They have a whole educational program and they try to help me with grants and anything else I might possibly need since we are at such a young stage. Right now, I work seven days a week. I work at Girl Blue during the week and I don't get paid for that. I also work full time at my job on the weekends.

Q.
How is The Girl Blue Project funded and has that been a difficult process for you?

A.
It's been challenging. I honestly can't say it's been difficult. Originally, it was funded mostly by me. I had saved a lot of money. My parents would give me money over the years and I would save. I would say in the beginning, I begged, borrowed, and stole everything I could get to start the program. And the first two years I worked another job and took the money from that job and put it into the program. But people started giving me money once we got our 501 C3 the second year. I have friends that are in the business that have TV shows and things like that and so they know me — and they would write checks to support the program. A lot of the instructors are working at such a low scale — their resumes are just beyond — but they believe in what we're doing. That's how we do it — individual donations. For our seven week program, we've been working on an operating budget of $10,000 or less. Currently for this year, I still need $5,000. It will work. We'll get it together.

Q.
What is your ultimate goal with The Girl Blue Project?

A.
I would really like to expand it. All the girls want an after school program. They don't like that once this is done it's done. Because we don't have the funding, I can't do this everyday. That's really the ultimate go is to have it all year round and then eventually expand it to do certain things — I want these girls to travel — to take trips to South Africa to build villages and things like that. Stuff that will build character and teach them about other parts of the world. I want them to know that even at 14 you can make a large difference in somebody's life. I want them to have field trips and projects where everything that is done — is done by them, so they can really realize what they are capable of.

Q.
Marlow, why do you feel that you are a Spirited Woman?

A.
I feel that I am a spirited woman because I am very connected to human beings on this planet. I feel that I am a spirited woman because I am strong and fearless. I am confident and I am connected in a way that is not on this level. That I am truly connected to the spirit and the spirit that I was born with for the first time in my life and it took me a long time to get here, but I feel the connection. I've never been happier in my life and I don't have things. I have very little and I'm the happiest I've ever been.

Marlow welcomes hearing from you at: www.thegirlblueproject.org.

© 2006 Nancy Mills

Nancy MillsNancy Mills is the Creator of the Spirited Woman Approach to Life, a self-inspirational writer for women, and the publisher of the highly successful Spirited Woman Blogger Team. More »

10/21/06