Meet the Nashville Teen Who Wrote Ashley Judd's Iconic "Nasty Woman" Poem
There was a lot to talk about from the Women’s March in D.C., but the most explosive moment—the moment that best encapsulated how millions of women were feeling in the wake of Trump’s presidency—was Ashley Judd’s performance of “Nasty Woman.” The poem, which was a fiery but eloquent Trump takedown, wasn’t written by Judd; it was penned by 19-year-old Nashville student Nina Donovan, who wrote it last year with zero idea about how big it would become. Below, hear Donovan’s story (in her own words!) about reclaiming the narrative, dealing with haters, and what it’s like to have your poetry go viral.
I started writing “Nasty Woman” when I was watching the debate with my family. Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a nasty woman and I was like, “What! Did this really happen?”
I was into the idea of reclaiming it. These were issues that deeply affect me and my friends and my family, and I performed it at this event called State of the Word. Ashley Judd just happened to be there with her friends. After I performed she came up to me and was like, “I think your piece is going to go up at the Women’s March in DC.”
The day of, I was streaming her performance on my phone as I was walking to the march in Nashville. I had been texting back and forth with Ashley about it, but there was no way for me to prepare; I couldn’t stop smiling. It still feels like it’s some dream to me that came out of nowhere. When I originally wrote and performed the piece, I was thinking that it would be the only time to perform it. I never thought it would actually reach anyone.
Even after Ashley told me she wanted to perform it, I never thought it would blow up. I was like, “If Michelle Obama hears this, I’m going to cry.” I started getting all these messages and all these journalists started calling me; people from other countries have written in, too. I’ve gotten a bit of hate, but all of it is from ignorance. No matter the hate, I’m glad I’m making people think.
Poetry does that. I got into it a few years ago after going to an international spoken word festival and realized that it was where I felt most like myself. I feel like artists like Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé are making poetry cool again. It’s not this nerdy thing you see on Tumblr; it’s actual art. Writing is underrated sometimes, but it’s a really deep form of expression and a way to get your voice across.
Personally, I’m not some angry spoken word artist; I’m just a goofy girl using her art. I’m studying sociology in college and I want to be a professor. Something that I’ve realized is that women and gender and race issues—people think they aren’t issues. They’re like, “Oh, women can vote, it’s all equal.” Things like this make me even more heated and gives me even more of a reason to speak out.