MAKERS Profile

Eve Ensler

Playwright, "The Vagina Monologues"

In this video

Eve Ensler on a traumatic childhood, the runaway success of The Vagina Monologues, and founding V-day to fight violence against women worldwide.
Eve Ensler is a Tony award-winning playwright, performer and activist. She is the author of "The Vagina Monologues," which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Many of today’s girls and young women "don't know what the word 'feminism' means,” reflected Ensler in late 2011. "But their desires are feminist — they want to be free, safe, have opportunities and leadership roles. The trick is to find the language girls speak and support that, rather than say, 'This is an ideology that has gone on for years that you all need to support.'" Ensler was thinking of her teen-oriented "I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World" — a New York Times best-seller, adapted, first for MTV, and subsequently for the stage.   "Emotional Creature" is itself part of the ongoing reverberations from her 1994 play, "The Vagina Monologues." For that project, Ensler collected interviews with more than 200 women before shaping them into a series of sad, funny, fierce, wounded, indignant, and joyful reflections on the landscape of the female body and the violence to which it’s sometimes subjected. The show electrified actors and audiences. It also catalyzed her creation of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over 85 million dollars through local performances of "The Vagina Monologues" held around the world. It’s theater as an engine of collective healing and grassroots activism and it helped win Ensler a 2011 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award for her humanitarian efforts. It joins her Obie Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, and many other awards and honors.    Most recently, she published the book "In The Body of the World" in 2013.

More From Eve

Having Each Other's Backs
Women can disagree, but they need to support each other when daring to "speak truth to power."

Gift of the Women's Movement
Ensler describes how the women's movement personally empowered her and gave her the strength to take risks.

Cancer's Catharsis
Ensler talks about her battle with cancer, how she got through it, and how it transformed her for the better.

More Intensity, Not Less
What girls' emotionalism can teach us about what it really takes to change the world.

Boys' "Emotional Creatures"
How girls, and Ensler's play Emotional Creature, help boys embrace their own emotional sides.

Celebrating Sex
Ensler on slogging off the cultural repression and taboos that attach to "the most gorgeous thing in the world."

The Art of Disruption
Eve Ensler relishes the power of plays like The Vagina Monologues to provoke discomfort and challenge our thinking.

A Vehicle for Good
How Ensler realized she could turn the wildly successful The Vagina Monologues into a tool for grassroots fundraising and change.

Bosnian Women War Victims
A Newsweek cover of Bosnian women rape victims changed Ensler's life forever - just as it did for Zainab Salbi. 

Art & Reality
Ensler describes how she develops her plays and how she seeks the edge between art and reality.

Uniting Art & Activism
How she learned she could bring together her art and her activist impulses without regret.

Discovered by Joanne Woodward
Ensler explains how Joanne Woodward believed in her and changed her life.