Activist actor uses theater as forum to address women’s issues

By: Jyllian Roach, Managing Editor
Photo Courtesy: Mary Rossman and Julia Harris, Vortex

Theatre transfer student Julia Harris said that for her, acting is not about being famous; it’s about combining her love of acting with her love of activism.

Bringing sensitive or taboo issues to the public is something that is important to her as an actor, she said.

“This is what I love about theatre — it creates a safe space to talk about those things,” said Harris.

In her upcoming play “Speed the Plow,” Harris’ part, originally played by Madonna on Broadway, was initially written as a bimbo who wants to sleep her way to the top. Harris and the director, Harry Zimmerman, decided instead to make the character a strong, intel­ligent woman with unclear motives, she said.

“I want her to have her own kinds of strength,” said Harris.

Exploring women’s issues is very impor­tant to her, she said. Last year she wrote, directed and starred in a one-woman play at the Filling Stations annual SOLOFEST ABQ. It was called “Marie Antoinette in her Toilette Eating Cake” and was centered on eating dis­orders, she said.

“Eating disorders are the mental disorder with the highest mortality rate that affects between 7 – 10 million women,” she said.

Harris has worked with many local theater companies including Mother Road Theatre Company, the runner up for the Alibi magazine’s “Best of Burque” for best theatre company. She had a lead role in the company’s fall production of “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller, which also took second place in the best production category.

“I’m so grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful show with such a wonderful com­pany,” she said.

Even though her degree from UNM is for theatre, Harris also enjoys acting for film, she said. All of her roles have been unpaid, so far, but there is a possible feature-length film in her future, based on the same char­acter she plays in the currently filming short “Virtual Synnecrosis,” she said. The short is a very action-oriented piece about a sol­dier on a mission, directed by local director Michael Perez, said Harris.

It’s a really great idea, but I can’t give the plot away,” she said.

“Speed the Plow” by David Mamet will open at the Vortex Theatre on April 27. Student tickets are $10. It will run through May 20.

For more information on tickets and the play, go to


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