Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (MFA)

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Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (MFA)

Founding Director of Reclaim UGLY, Vanessa Rochelle Lewis, smiling at the camera.
Image Description: Founding Director of Reclaim UGLY, Vanessa Rochelle Lewis – a fat, Black, brightly dressed woman in her thirties – smiling at the camera.

Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (MFA)
Founding Director
Reclaim UGLY
PleasureNessLiteraryAcademy

Born and raised in South Central and Adulting in Oakland, Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (MFA) is a Queer, Fat, Black, Femme performer, facilitator, educator, writer, activist, healer, joyful weirdo, and Faerie Princess Mermaid Gangsta for The Revolution. Vanessa has danced across many professional and creative stages. 

Vanessa founded the organization Reclaim UGLY: Uplift Glorify Love Yourself – And Create A World Where Everyone Else Can As Well! Her vision is to co-create a world where everyone knows that they are a safe, welcomed, and valued member of their communities; has the support to dream authentically and exists in their truths; and accepts that there is no face, no body, and no person who is ugly or unworthy of love and acceptance.

She is a former Community College English Instructor and a former Senior Editor for Intersectional Feminist Magazines, Black Girl Dangerous and Everyday Feminism. She served the healing of formerly incarcerated women as the Healing Artist In Residence at the Young Women’s Freedom Center. She serves as a Creative Strategist for the violence awareness and bully-prevention organization, The Positive Results Corporation. She is on the leadership team of the transformative justice freedom school, Creating Freedom Movements: More Justice! More Joy! And she is one of the founding members of Congregation of Liberation (a healing arts organization that uses theatre to celebrate and support Black, LGBTQ+ Healing and Liberation). Vanessa founded Reclaim UGLY, an organization that works to end looks-based discrimination, violence, and systemic exclusion in 2019. The same year, she created PleasureNess Literary, an organization that combines creativity, sensuality, and Vanessa’s unique and joyful style of (he)art-based facilitation to foster healing, collaboration, and community building amongst activists, weirdos, and healers. 

Vanessa is currently working with North Atlantic Books to publish her first book on how uglification covertly (and overtly) impacts our lives and communities, and what it means to reclaiming our bodies, thoughts, and desires from coercive- and oppressive social hierarchies. 

Vanessa MC’d the SF Dyke March; Co-hosted the open-mic Culture Fuck; toured with Sister Spit; performed/mc’d with Queer Rebels, Mangoes with Chili, Peacock Rebellion, and many other Bay Area Literary and Performance groups; and published with Black Girl Dangerous, Everyday Feminism, The Body Is Not An Apology, Racebaitr, and Wear Your Voice Magazine. She has keynoted for events at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, St Mary’s College of California, California Institute of Integral Studies, The Pacific North West Magic Conference, and more.

Vanessa is a shameless flirt, a giggling gummy bear, and a bawse ass goodwitch who loves to swoon over life and dive deep into intimacy. Silliness and sensuality are her survival strategies. She loves the people that society forgot to love the most. Learn more about Vanessa by going to www.reclaimugly.org, www.pleasurenesslitacademy.com, or following her on IG @The.Ugly.Black.Woman.

Vanessa’s Published Work

Embracing UGLY In A World That Tried To Weaponize It Against Me
Ugly: How Beauty Was Built Upon White Supremacy
A Man Called Me An Ugly Black Woman, But The Harm Doesn’t Begin Or End With Him
We All F*ck Up: The Importance of Loving Yourself Even When You Disappoint Yourself
4 Reasons Why the US Police Force Is an Extension of Slavery and White Supremacy
QTPOC and Feminist Writers Save Lives, So Treat Them Well
De-Centering Whiteness through Radical Accountability in QTPOC Community
Saying No to Class Privilege (White Privilege’s Deceitful Little Minion)
Why We Must Stop Believing that Our Pain and Grief are Punishment for Our Problems
From One Lesbian of Color to Another: Don’t Express Your Transphobia In My Name
Don’t Forget About Love
5 Ways Black People Experience Non-Physical Violence on College Campuses
Why Keeping to Yourself and Ignoring Strangers is Not the Way to Fight Rape Culture
Three Ways to Lovingly Talk to Your In-Laws about that Hella Oppressive Thing They Just Said
Why Every Femme Needs Another Fierce, Femme Warrior
A Meditation on Romance, Love, and Partnership
7 Critical Pieces of Info About The Death Penalty That You Need to Know ASAP

Vanessa’s Introductory Poem

She is a healer with a satchel full of medicine words, a conjuror with desire to nurture other artists as they create magic and save lives,
A faery mermaid gangsta for the revolution,
A lush-bodied, Black femme Goddess motivated by sensuality and freedom,
An educator and performer with a passionate exuberance for silliness, laughter, and the stage,
A starlet who doesn’t want to be in the spotlight alone,
A lover of all things collective, emergent, and interdependent,
A wild-seed born and blossomed in South Central, Los Angeles,
A fighter with fists born of circumstance and a heart that refused to harden,
A warrior committed to freedom, brow dripping with resilience, wings crusted with diamonds that grew from trauma healed,
A sunbeam drama kid, always ready to explore the whimsy of imagination with others,
A dreamer who’s hungry for more – more understanding, more expansive enlightenment, more friendship, more growth, more compassion, more love, more creativity, more access for her people,
An activist committed to unpacking the seeds, kernels, and fabrics of social justice, liberation for all, collaborative healing
An alchemist who knows how to turn spirit-wounds into magic, oppression into possibility, resentment into vulnerability, insecurity into self-expansion, anger into love,
An Ethical Hedonist & Pleasure Activist, committed to the transformative potency of using joy as a tool for decolonial healing and movement work,
A good witch who highly values compassion, love, forgiveness, and using the forces that be for generative transformation over revenge,
A Domme Mistress with a love for tender, gentle things; devotion and nurture; power exchange; role play; deeply consensual BDSM relationships; subs of all genders and expressions; domme’s who can handle her; intimacy; and magic,
A survivor, through and through, and extremely proud of it,
An unapologetically integrated person – intersectional, full, able to be held accountable, and unwilling to compromise any part of herself,
A Free Black Woman,
A lover of words and expression,
And a goofy, juicy, romantic, and rascally flirt.


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