Monique Wilson mixes art and activism to change the world

BY Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

May 13, 2014

ELMHURST, NY – Monica Anne Esteva Wilson – more popularly known as Monique Wilson – uses her voice in the art of theater to entertain.

She was only 10 years-old when she first stepped on stage and played the role of an orphan in the musical “Annie.”

After appearing in more than 60 professional theater productions in the Philippines, Wilson was chosen to play the role of a bar girl and eventually played the role of “Kim” in the original London production of “Miss Saigon” at the age of 18.

Wilson said, “I’m very grateful to Cameron MacKintosh and to the ‘Miss Saigon’ musical for giving me a voice to — giving me an opportunity to do an amazing show but also it gave me a voice in the Philippines, wonderful opportunities and opened a lot of doors.”

Today, the 44-year-old former “Miss Saigon” star is lending her voice to activism to influence change.

“Kailangan yung mga roles na pine-play din ay sang-ayon din na sa activism sapagkat napaka-powerful ng art as an advocacy tool. Hindi tayo pwedeng basta-basta nag-a-accept ng kung anu-anong roles that diminishes women,” she said.

“So I’m much more interested in really looking at roles, producing shows that really keep empowering women and girls.”

After “Miss Saigon”, Wilson founded her own theater group called the New Voice Company.

“Talagang I really wanted to produce political and feminist play so nakita yung play na ‘The Vagina Monologues’ by Eve Ensler and I produced it,” she said. “I realized that na yung play na yun mas malawak, hindi siya isang dula lamang. I really wanted to partner with Gabriela.”

And for fifteen years now, she has been a member of Gabriela – an alliance of grassroots women’s organizations. She has been their spokesperson for the Purple Rose Campaign to end sex-trafficking of Filipino women and children.

Wilson is also currently the director for 1 Billion Rising – a global call on women and men everywhere to rise, release, dance and demand justice.

On Valentine’s Day last year, 1 billion people danced and rose in 207 countries to end violence against women and girls.

“Karamihan din sa mga friends ko minsan tinatanong ako, bakit ka nakiki-action sa kanila? Artista ka. Actually hindi naman tayo separate sa isyu, di ba?” Wilson said. “Dapat hindi tayo tulog sa mga issues na yan. Kung may boses tayo kailangan nating isigaw ang mga issues sapagkat ang ating gobyerno talagang bingi sila at hindi sila nakikinig.”

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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