By Nadine Matthews, Special to the AFRO
Comedian, actress and television writer Phoebe Robinson has also just completed her second book, Everything Is Trash, But It’s Okay. It’s a hilarious yet insightful take on some serious issues of the day such as sexual harassment, white feminism, interracial relationships, and money and career. Robinson also lets us in on her romantic lives both real and in her head (like her obsession with Michael B. Jordan) and relives with the reader, the moments a number of her dreams came true such as meeting U2 frontman Bono and getting a phone call from Oprah.
In February, Robinson makes her big screen debut alongside Taraji P. Henson (Empire) and Aldis Hodge (Underground) in the gender bended remake of rom com What Men Want. Still something of a newcomer to the big screen she admits, “This is just my second movie so I think I was a little nervous. I was like, ‘I don’t wanna be the thing that makes this movie suck.’ So I was trying to make sure I was funny and not an idiot or ignorant.”
The most difficult part of the book for Robinson to complete was the section on feminism. “I kept putting it off and putting it off.” She did believe it was too important to ignore. It turned out to be a powerful yet funny critique of how far men and white women have to go in order to achieve feminism that is effective for everyone. “I talk about white feminism and its tendency to be myopic and not inclusive.”
Everything Is Trash also charts Robinson’s inner conflict when deciding to lend her voice and efforts to the 2017 Women’s March. “It was like okay I wanna participate in this march that’s not really here for Black Lives Matter, for trans rights, for immigration rights.” When it came down to writing the book, she had to be honest about dealing with these discordant feelings. “I wanted to make sure I honored the entire truth of how I felt. Also, I hoped for women who didn’t want to participate in the march, to read it and feel, ‘this is exactly why I didn’t participate and it doesn’t make me a bad person.’ I wanted to be critiquing feminism in a way that would hopefully move the conversation forward.”
“Anytime I write essays or books,” Robinson points out, “I want to always make sure that I’m learning in general. I don’t wanna ever come across like I’ve got it all figured out.” In that vein, Everything Is Trash became the catalyst for Robinson to be even more outward looking. “Writing the essays for the book was a reminder to make sure I always look outside myself and see that my straight, black, cis, female experience isn’t the only one that has its problems and its issues. As much as I want to talk about Black Lives Matter and Black Girls Code I make sure I also talk about the Tegan and Sarah Foundation that provides resources for LGBTQ+ youth for instance.”
When sitting down to write Everything Is Trash, Robinson said she personally wanted readers, “To feel like they’re hanging out with their best friend. I want them to sort of have hope even though things are trash like the book title says.” She began writing at a particularly dark time socially and politically. Surprisingly, the process helped lift her spirits. “When I wrote it I got beyond the sadness I felt at Donald Trump being president to a more proactive attitude of ‘How can I make things better?’ People will be able to laugh at the mistakes I made with money or dating or what have you and they’ll also feel moments of levity in reading this, maybe I can incorporate some moments of levity in my life to balance out the intensity that we’re all dealing with.”
Not one to be daunted or defeated by challenges though, Robinson’s overall sense of mission and purpose spurs her on through any moments where her confidence lags. “I do sometimes get self-conscious but I do want to do good in the world and I don’t want my lack of confidence in that arena to prevent me from doing the best I can to leave the world a little bit better than I found it.” Half-joking, she adds, “Right now I’m working on having the confidence of the rich white guys.”