LSA and Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Tal Kamin started We Are Queens, a female empowerment organization, while reflecting on her summer experiences in the theater industry.
“I was talking to my best friend the night before it all started,” Kamin said. “We were talking about our experiences, whether that be in relationships or professional pursuits, and started realizing how hard it was for us to not feel like we were constantly being labeled for our behavior in whatever capacity that meant.”
It was during that conversation that Kamin realized how common it was for girls her age to put themselves down and focus on the negativity in their lives. With a desire to change what she felt had become a social norm, Kamin was inspired to create a 30-day challenge.
This was the official initiative that jumpstarted what has now become the We Are Queens organization. On Aug. 9, the GroupMe 30-day challenge called “Bridge the GAP” was launched. Girls would share one thing they were grateful for, one affirmation and one thing they were proud of through an ongoing public group chat. With 400 females joining the challenge from across the world in just two days, Kamin realized the power of having a strong community of females and the potential to take this further.
“Our mission was and still is about empowering young females individually, fostering a community in that realm and giving back to the rest of society,” Kamin said.
As a female empowerment organization, We Are Queens seeks to create change through events, social media movements, benefit performances and other activities that foster a safe space for women to feel confident in themselves in a world that may otherwise put them down.
According to Kamin, the values of We Are Queens, as well as the initial 30-day challenge, make it appealing to a global audience. She explained that the positivity of the community fosters its growth, rather than a formalized business plan or an entrepreneurial strategy.
“It really does come from a pure place of wanting to make a difference,” Kamin said. “It’s not driven by capitalistic desires. The fact that I am a human and I am relatable makes this a platform where girls want to join not only because they are seeking help or see this as a groupie, but they understand that this is an opportunity to come to terms with themselves alongside other girls.”
For Kamin, We Are Queens has also become an outlet to reflect on her personal values. Kamin said the culture of the dance industry has trained her to be hyperware of potential flaws and competition.
“Within the dance community, where you’re constantly auditioning, constantly looking at yourself in the mirror and criticizing yourself while being compared to other girls, I saw that the dynamic of self worth and self value was not as strong as it could and should be,” Kamin said.
Music, Theatre & Dance senior Emily Goodrich is the marketing director for We Are Queens and met Kamin through the school. Sympathetic to the pressures that initially led Kamin to create the challenge initiative, Goodrich was drawn toward the mission statement values.
“I love her cause to get women together to encourage each other in such a demanding industry,” Goodrich said. “We tend to gravitate towards competition but I think this could be the wave of the future, for teaching like-minded females to support and encourage one another.”
Having compiled an executive team of six women, including Goodrich, Kamin is planning on adding more tangible events to showcase the power of empowerment and self-love. Expanding into industries beyond what she is familiar with – dance and theater – she hopes to create a movement that is open to everyone.
In just two months, We Are Queens has produced two music videos: one to Beyoncé’s “Run The World” and another to P!nk’s “Hustle”, which focused on a more intimate journey of female self-discovery.
“The Beyoncé music video really went viral and was our first public social media event,” Kamin said. “We had hundreds of comments and views and this was a really tangible way for us to use art specifically to get the word out.”
The next event planned is an upcoming basketball tournament with Michigan Greek life on Oct. 20. The event, called “Get your crown in the game,” is meant to spread positivity to a wider audience.
“I think Greek life is such a powerful platform in bringing people together,” Kamin said. “While there are a lot of philanthropic events that occur throughout the year, I don’t think there are any out there that have equal gender participation by both sororities and fraternities.”
Funds from the basketball event will be donated to five charities – the National Women’s Law Center, an organization that fights for gender justice in court, the Helen Keller International Organization which combats poor health and vision; Women for Women, which promotes education for marginalized women; Dress for Success, which empowers women to gain economic independence by providing women with a network of professional support; and Rainn, an anti-sexual violence organization. These charities are organizations the Kamin and her team are working on partnering with in the future.
On top of the upcoming basketball game, Kamin has planned a benefit concert in New York’s Broadway Dance Center, a prestigious dance institution, on Oct. 27. The performance will include six choreographers from famous Broadway shows such as Hamilton, three Rockette dancers, and singers from all corners of the industry.
“It’s essentially going to be a huge celebration of femininity and its diverse performers will hopefully highlight the different experiences we all have,” Kamin said.
The performance will then be followed by an industry panel, where female entrepreneurs will discuss the power of performance as a means to create discussion and change, rather than to merely entertain.
We Are Queens has, in a short period of time, become a dynamic and quickly growing platform. Cait Mcquade, a sophomore at Montclair State University, holds the title of nationwide campus director.
“It started on a single thought on how to empower ourselves,” Mcquade said. “And now it’s become so much more widespread. I am so excited to hold this position so we can truly globalize this movement and make female empowerment more apparent than ever. Empowered women empower women and that is something I, along with the board of this organization, stand by whole-heartedly.”