Celebrating Women at UBC: Deb Pickman

Deb Pickman has been a theatre creator, actor, producer and arts marketing specialist for two decades. She is a co-founding member of the theatre company Shameless Hussy Productions and has toured nationally and internationally for several companies including her own. Shameless Hussy pursues a mandate of “telling provocative stories about women to inspire the hand that rocks the cradle to rock the world.” A two-time Jessie Richardson nominee, Deb received the Vancouver Sun People’s Choice Award for her performance in the production of Susan Miller’s My Left Breast. Beginning with publicizing for the company, Deb later gained extensive experience in publicizing literary, visual, and performing artists as Director of Publicity and Development at Rebus Creative. Deb has a BA in Theatre from UBC and is currently Communications & Marketing Specialist for the UBC Department of Theatre and Film. More at www.shamelesshussy.com

What are you passionate about?

Getting women’s stories and voices heard in mainstream culture. Seeing art news front and centre in the media.

Who inspires you?

My mom and sister, my girlfriends. Grassroots campaigners for social justice and equality. Everyone who is working towards making the world a more loving place. So many people on the world stage – the latest is Jimmy Carter and his new book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.

What do you consider to be the most significant positive changes for women or carried out by women?

On a day to day level it’s cultivating higher levels of literacy and financial efficacy for women world wide. In the artistic realm it’s people who are creating art (literature, performing arts etc) that is challenging entrenched patriarchal attitudes, some of which that even the more enlightened are still carrying – including myself. Western culture has it’s own ‘veils’ but they’re mostly invisible to the eye.

What changes do you want to see or initiate in the future?

I want to hear women (and men) embrace feminism to a far greater degree and understand what it has to offer them, it’s one of my greatest frustrations to hear someone say “…but I wouldn’t consider myself a feminist.” A fundamental paradigm shift is overdue, from that so many powerful actions could follow.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Working! Only partly kidding, I love my work for UBC pushing the cultural envelope and I have my theatre company Shameless Hussy Productions on the side. We’re touring a play this year called DISSOLVE, it’s a comedy about an unlikely subject; drug and alcohol facilitated sexual assault. But if I’m not working I love my garden. I walk a lot, I love the feeling of getting somewhere with so little intellectual effort.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love working with a team of very diverse artists that are all creating one artistic project together. It’s a special gift to work with students, their optimism and wicked talent is a huge lift to the spirit. It’s lovely having a career in the arts of course – but it’s also wearing over the years as an independent artist looking for funding that isn’t there and doing a lot with a little.

Do you face any challenges based on gender, race, sexual orientation or any other aspect of your identity?

Every female faces a mountain of discrimination and the threat of violence, sexual or otherwise – even in our privileged and forward thinking country. Rosalind Miles expresses it with humour;  “Women are the greatest race of underdogs the world has ever known.”

Fun facts about you: 
I had a dog sled team at one time.
One of my favourite roles on stage has been in Susan Miller’s My Left Breast.
I lived in a log cabin without electricity for six years in my early 20’s.
I was once quoted in an interview as saying that “I’m a fun and funny feminist.” So potentially my days are filled with fun facts!

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