Interview: Luvvie Ajayi And More To Uplift And Inspire On ‘Together Live’ Tour
The Together Live tour aims to bring together women from all over the country in an effort to help them realize their full potential through the inspiring stories of their guest speakers.
The 10-city tour kicks off on Sept. 18 in Portland, Ore., and concludes on Oct. 26 at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. With its roots grounded in the literary world, Together Live was founded by Jennifer Rudolph Walsh as a passion project of sorts. After working at live book reading events like Oprah Winfrey’s “The Life You Want” tour (of which she was the co-creator of), Walsh was able to witness firsthand how magical live events and storytelling were for people.
“I’ve always believed that storytelling has the power to transform lives,” wrote Walsh in an e-mail to VIBE. “We traveled for two months and saw over 250,000 [people] nationwide. Oprah called the tour the ‘world’s largest open-hearted classroom.’ For me, we were the loudest collective heartbeat I’d ever heard and I never wanted it to end. When the tour finally did wrap up, I began brainstorming ways to sustain the inspiration and magic we’d experienced on the road while simultaneously make the ticket prices and time commitment low enough to be accessible to people everywhere.”
She decided to develop her own way to keep that magic alive with the help of the best-selling author of Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton.
“[Glennon and I] launched the first Together tour in fall 2016, traveling to six cities across the country in a truly multi-generational, intersectional gathering of 15,000 people with the intent of sharing authentic stories about the path to finding purpose, connecting to a community, and getting over the bridge of bravery into action.”
Several extraordinary leaders, activists, artists, athletes and celebrity guests such as Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, actress Connie Britton and author/blogger Luvvie Ajayi will be taking the stage during the tour’s sophomore year. They’ll be sharing their personal stories of overcoming their own personal hardships, as well as inspiring the audience members to live their best lives.
Originally from Nigeria with dreams of becoming a doctor, Ajayi began her personal blog “Awesomely Luvvie” in 2003. Since then, her blog has amassed millions of hits online, and she’s gone on to be a respected writer, public speaker and activist. Ajayi is a New York Times best-selling author, whose book I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual debuted at number five in 2016. In 2017, it was announced that showrunner Shonda Rhimes would be turning her book into a comedy series.
“[That news] was an affirmation of the work I’ve been doing,” says Ajayi over-the-phone. “That was a dream come true!”
For Walsh, Together Live’s speakers are determined by deciphering who is able to connect to the audience through their personal journeys in a compelling way, by “living out loud” and making the world a better place.
“For Luvvie, [living out loud] means using her humor and voice to connect with thousands of people and provide insightful commentary on our culture, whether she’s recapping an episode of Scandal or advocating for women and girls affected by HIV/AIDS,” she says.
— together live events (@together_tweets) August 9, 2017
What Ajayi enjoys the most about speaking during live events such as Together Live is the energy from the crowd, and the ability to give them something important.
“People walking away with something that they didn’t walk in with, I think that’s really, really satisfying,” she explains. “Just making sure people know they are worth the time and the energy. We’re on stage trying to really give them something concrete.”
“Especially during a time when so much of our lives are virtual, it is incredibly powerful to be in the same room as someone who is sharing their vulnerable truths,” writes Walsh. “At Together, we believe that fear cannot survive proximity, and by hearing someone else’s story, we are connected in ways that can never be undone. You find yourself somewhere in their story, whether it’s a shared heartbreak, a disappointment or a dream come true.”
The tour aims to bring together people from all over, especially those who may not have access to these type of events otherwise. Instead of stopping in large areas such as New York and Los Angeles, the tour will dock in places like Minneapolis, Chicago, and San Jose to be more accessible to those in less-populated areas. The event is also held on weeknights after work hours so that attendees don’t have to switch around their schedules to come.
“I think a lot of times, [some people are] shut out of a lot of messages like this, and they need to hear it,” says Ajayi. “It’s really cool that the tour is in places where people don’t typically get stuff like this.”
My people!!! Excited to announce that this fall, I’m going on the @togetherliveevents with some true BAWSES! @glennondoyle @abbywambach @jenniferrwalsh and I are headed to 10 cities to make space for women and girls to be empowered to create change, to laugh, to be encouraged to have the audacity to dream big. We will be joined across the country by dope women like @glowmaven @sophiabush @aliciakeys @ibtihajmuhammad @jamiaawilson @amani @fly_sci. You should come, and tickets start at $25! Use the code VOICE and get $5 off those tics and $10 off the $49 & $129 tickets. Code will expire by Wednesday night at 11:59 PM local time. Pick a city and see y’all there! Tics are at http://togetherlive.com. #TogetherLiveTour #TogetherLive2017 #WolfpackofWomen
In today’s day and age especially, it’s important for women to feel empowered to live their very best lives. The diverse group of female guest speakers will hopefully inspire the audience members in some way, shape or form.
“I think it can encourage people to keep going,” says Ajayi. “When you walk into [the tour], and you’re not sure about what you want to do or what you should be doing, hopefully you’ll walk out of the room, and you’re like, “’Alright, I got this. I can make it happen!’”
As for what she believes her best-selling book I’m Judging You will teach people, Ajayi says that hopefully, those attending the event will want to leave their mark on the world by doing what they love.
“My last chapter is about making sure people make the world a better place, so I am hoping they kind of hold on to that,” she explains. “I think that if everybody committed themselves to making a better world than how we found it, things would be much better than what they are.”
Walsh encourages the audience to look at the chapters of their own life story, and think about themselves while attending the event.
“The answers to [your personal] questions are the breadcrumbs that lead you to discover your purpose,” she says. “We want you to follow those breadcrumbs. We want people to walk away hearing from speakers who have found their purpose and are living it out loud to find some ‘me too’ moments and learn something new about themselves and feel inspired to make change.”
Tickets for the event in a city near you can be purchased here, with prices starting at $25. Together Live also has an app that is available even if you do not attend, where they “post original stories, create Together circles, and give people opportunities to get into action both locally and nationally.”