Hey Awesome Girl with Special Guest Monèt Noelle Marshall

Performing Artist Monèt Noelle Marshall: “I’ve realized that freedom is quiet”

hey awesome girl with tivi jones Mar 29, 2022
Season 1: Episode 7

In the seventh episode of Hey Awesome Girl with Tivi Jones, you’ll meet artist, cultural organizer, and consultant Monèt Noelle Marshall. Monèt shares how she learned to say no and the meaning of abundance.

Monèt Noelle Marshall is an artist, cultural organizer, and consultant. Monèt is the Founding Artistic Director of MOJOAA Performing Arts Company. She centers Black trans, queer folks, and women in her work and defines her artistic practice as “rehearsal for the relationship.” 

Mon​ét’s work has been experienced in St. Ann’s Warehouse, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Open Eye Figure Theatre, Northstar Church of the Arts, Manbites Dog Theatre, and Mordecai Historic Park. Most recently she has collaborated with African American Policy Forum on Gucci’s Chime for Change zine, Scalawag Magazine, NC Museum of Art, Historic Stagville, City of Raleigh, and Columbia University. 

In this episode, Monèt talks to Tivi Jones about being tentacular in your approach, getting rid of shoulds, checking in with your body, incorporating play, and how freedom can be quiet.



The host, Tivi Jones, begins the episode by saying that the narrative of a “starving artist” is destructive. For example, Monèt just bought a house in North Carolina and she is a true artist. What does being an artist and living in a state of abundance means to her?

“First of all, abundance is kind of like the word of my life,” Monèt says.

She loves living in the South because there’s something about abundance not being excess and abundance feeling like she’s enough. “Abundance is the place where I am creating at a capacity that allows me to be the most human while also being inside of my own values and living a life that just feels juicy to me. And I think part of it is giving myself permission for the definition of that to constantly evolve.”

What’s abundance for Monèt now may not be abundance for her next year or in five years. She says in the future, this house she just bought may not be large enough when she decides to have kids, but for now, it’s enough and just what she needs. The definition of abundance grows with her, she dreams it forward.

For Tivi, sometimes abundance is just having enough money to make payroll. Sometimes, it’s having enough spaciousness to do the work that she does. “You live in a state of abundance when you have enough spaciousness to change your mind,” she says. 

Monèt adds– “You’re abundant when you can afford to say NO.” 

“And you know who can afford to say no?” Tivi asks. “Everyone.”


Monèt follows a brilliant writer and thinker, Bayo Akumulafe, who uses the word ‘tentacular.” She is focusing on that word at the moment and applying to her business model. “I need to create a tentacular business model,” she says. 

Monèt explains how she wants to open a studio in Durham, NC, that will center on Black, queer, trans, Southern artists. Inside the studio, she wants an arm for graphic novels and literally works, an arm for augmented and virtual reality, and one for TV, film, and podcast work. 

“And what's at the center is the ethic. We are not what we do but we are how we do it. As long as we are living within our ethic, which is we center those who have been ignored– we are Southern, we are trans, we are queer, we are disabled, we are indigenous, we are folks of color, we are of the land. We are working sustainably. Any project that we do is grounded in that.”

At the moment, as a leader, she’s focusing on talent development. “I don’t know much about video games, but I know that there are folks who want to make videos from that ethic. I’m building strong teams that are grounded in the same ethic and value,” she says. 

Being the best leader possible is always a work in progress. Monèt grew up as a theater kid and dance and acting were her entryways into her art practice. At 10-years-old, she found out about the job of a director and realized that’s who she wanted to be.

“I think that desire to gather people around a shared vision to tell a story, make a story has now turned to–we want to change the world–this is how we are going to change the world together. It feels like if I can do that, I can do these other things. Seeing the success on the small scale, I'm driven by the impact on my community.”

Monèt remembers a story that reminded her of the impact her work has. She called the exterminator to schedule a visit to get rid of mice in her house, and the woman on the line said: “Are you Monèt  Marshall, the artist and activist?” She told Monèt she came to her show four years ago and it really impacted her. 

“I want to do things that leave an imprint,” Monèt says.  “And you can't do that kind of work alone. What if we apply the same method to civic engagement, climate justice, reparations? And can we still make it juicy and pleasurable and sexy?”

Seamlessly combining art, business, and social change requires confidence. But confidence is hard-fought, Monèt says. It hasn’t been easy for her to feel comfortable about the way she wants to work.

“Covid has been horrible and hard for everyone. The quiet of the world ending has really challenged me to be like ‘this is wild ao if it’s going to be wild, let me be wild too in the direction of my biggest dreams,’” she says.  

It has been difficult for her to trust that she is a business person with good ideas or that just because the money isn’t flowing in for a project that it’s not worth being funded.

I do feel really grateful to be in the moment where someone else’s NO is not my no,” Monèt says. 



Monèt points out the two biggest challenges that she’s faced. 

The biggest one is, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” When she started her business, she was doing a lot of consulting work. She said other people wanting her to work on their thing stroked her ego. In the beginning, she thought it was cool to be self-employed and work on many projects. “But then I realized, it didn’t make sense. I didn’t have a strategy and I wasn’t actually moving forward in my purpose work,” Monèt says. 

This idea of working on too many things at the same time is relatable to many of us. Monèt says the closer she let her work and other people’s work come together, the further she got from her purpose. “My work deserves to be funded. I decided I would find the right partner and focus on my purpose as opposed to doing many little things at the same time,” she says. 

The second thing she realized was the importance of building teams at an appropriate speed and time. She says when she first started her business, she wasn’t ready to step into her own leadership. 

Sometimes the vision and the purpose can feel so big that we convince ourselves out of it. I think I was convincing myself out of my own purpose because I was scared that I’m not ready, that my community isn’t ready,” Monèt says.

She says she thought if she talked to one person and they didn't get it, she must be doing something wrong. If certain people she respected didn't get it, she must be wrong. She also thought if people who were smarter than her didn’t do it before her then she must be wrong. And then she realized, “Maybe the lane is open because it was waiting for you.”

Monèt says part of her training as an actor was learning how to be rejected. 

But she says if there were six Sharknado movies made– ”whatever idea you have, I promise, there's money out there to fund it.”

Tivi jumps in to talk about how in the past year she realized how much “hidden” money is out there. She gets emails every day requesting proposals for different things–construction, graphic design, among others. “There are millions of dollars of requests for proposals out there. There are these companies that have this money to spend with someone. All I knew about money growing up was that there’s not enough of it. So reframing that narrative is important.” 

It’s also fundamental to understand that you don’t have to apply for everything that is available. 

“I do a body check when reading an application–if I get excited about it, then I apply. If I feel like I should apply, then I don’t. Should will get you in the world of trouble,” she says. 

Monèt quotes writer Adrienne Maree Brown: “My emphatic no makes room for my enthusiastic Yes.” 


Monèt finds pleasure and ease in play. For example, she loves building an adult lego set at work. She just signed up for a pottery class and is very excited about taking it. “I have a 12-year-old inside me who just wants to play and make things. I’m leaning into the part of myself that just wants to do things for fun,” she says. 

She finds joy in hanging out with whoever she wants, singing karaoke by herself, and cooking delicious meals. “My thing right now is if I were someone else, treating me the way I treat myself, would I wanna date me?”

When it comes to feeling free, Tivi reminds the audience she is a very “woo woo” spiritual type of person. Recently, she started thinking about what being a free Black woman means to her. 

I’ve been thinking about how am I structuring my life to actually be free and what does that mean? And it made me think about my great grandmother who I grew up with, whose grandmother was a slave, and she’d ask – but are we really free? I’m trying to be a free Black woman to live my great-great grandmother’s wildest dreams,” Tivi says.

Monèt says for the longest time she thought that freedom was loud. 

“I’ve realized that freedom is quiet, like sitting on your couch and crocheting while listening to this podcast,” she says.

Monèt takes her alone time seriously. She doesn’t respond to her email or picks up her phone calls past business hours. “It’s my time now. I’m not a brain surgeon,” she says. 

But also realizing that even when her phone doesn’t ring or her email is not going off is OKAY– “I am just as worthy when no one needs me as I am when people are clamoring for my attention,” she says. 

Monèt lived with her grandmother, who was born in 1922 and would have turned 100 years old this year. She says she admired the way her grandma lived and how slowly she moved through her day. She had a big breakfast all the time, went on trips with her friends, had a club that would meet once a month–she lived on her own terms.

“And I think I didn't realize how rare that was for a Black woman until I grew up and realized how many of us do not feel that we have permission to live our life on our own terms. It’s good practice now because I do want to be a partner and have children. But I refuse to believe that in order to be a good partner and mother I need to completely let go of myself,” Monèt says. 

She says it’s important to remind ourselves that abundance and freedom can be found in all the small things. “Because climate change is real and the life that we think we might have in 15, 20 years may not be here. So if our definition of freedom or abundance or success is tied to these things that a storm could take away, then we are (expletive).”



What Monèt would say to her younger self is: “Girl, you are queer. You don’t know what means yet, but you are. You might be scared but don’t be. Queerness is not just about who you love, but queerness around how you redefine–you are the redefiner. You don’t just take systems in a way that they were given to you. You flip them, you push them, and reverse them. That is queerness.” 


She says if she understood sooner that she was queer, the way she would have moved through the world would have been different. “So, sis, you’re queer. It’s fine. You’re gonna be fine. Your parents are fine. Everybody is fine.”

She’d also tell herself: “Stop looking around and look in. The way you think about things, the art you want to make and the things you want don’t fit neatly in any of the boxes and they’re not supposed to. You are not doing anything wrong. You are right on time. And there are some lessons you’ll have to learn before other things click and that is okay.”

And third: “Take a nap. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing too much. And when you get up from that nap, take your time and be sweet to yourself.” 


I hope that you have enjoyed this episode as much as I have!

Follow us and subscribe on all platforms @heyawesomegirls to never miss an episode with a Boss Babe who will teach you many valuable work and life lessons!


Enjoy the full episode on:

Every week Tivi interviews amazing Boss Babes in tech, medicine, law, entrepreneurship, entertainment, parenting, and more about their lives, goals, and how every day, they are working to add more Pleasure, Ease, and Abundance in their orbit.

This show is part business advice, part life coaching, and part real talk with girlfriends. If you’re looking for a show that’s real and relatable but also inspiring at the same time, Hey Awesome Girl with Tivi Jones is the one for you!



Learn more about Monèt Noelle Marshall:

Monèt Noelle Marshall website:

Monèt Noelle Marshall Instagram: @monetisart 

Monèt Noelle Marshall Twitter: @monet_is_art

Monèt Noelle Marshall Facebook: @badarts 


Featured in this episode:



Demi Vitkute is a Media Manager & Producer at Hey Awesome. She’s a passionate storyteller, fashion aficionado + crazy cat mom trying to change the world. She’s a journalist, editor, and media consultant. Demi is the founder of The Urban Watch Magazine and has written for The Washington Post, Inside Hook, and Promo Magazine, among others. You can follow her on IG and Twitter @demiivit.

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