Joy Villa Stands Her Ground in a Partisan Culture
Exclusive interview: Musician who wore 'make America great again' dress at Grammys shares fervent 'belief in free speech'
Musician Joy Villa did something daring on the night of the 2017 Grammy Awards: She decided to display her beliefs proudly.
Wearing a now-famous Make America Great Again dress, the 25-year-old singer told the world and the industry she believed in a president that Hollywood was working full-out to stop.
It’s not a popular thing to be an artist with conservative politics today. Actor and comedian Tim Allen compared the climate of political fear in Tinseltown to “’30s Germany” last week on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show — obviously partly joking, but with a nugget of truth that has been reaffirmed by far too many artists afraid to express themselves openly.
It’s not a popular thing to be an artist with conservative politics today.
Despite all of this, Villa — who currently lives in Los Angeles — has chosen to be open and honest with her art and her politics. She’s helping to change the stereotype many in the media and cultural elite have painted of Trump voters. She is a thoughtful artist who speaks of positivity and unity. She headlined a Trump rally earlier this month at which she said — according to Breitbart News, “I really want to leave my message of love and tolerance and support. No matter if you agree with what I believe or not, I can love you. I can have the conversation with you.”
LifeZette talked with Villa about her recent experiences and her music career.
Question: Have you faced any industry pushback since making your bold statement at the Grammys? And since then, you’ve obviously been very open to the public about your beliefs and politics.
Answer: What I’ve actually felt is an overwhelming outpouring of love and support more than anything. My inbox and social media are filled to the brim with messages of encouragement for standing up for what I believe in. My fans have increased by the thousands and my record sales have gone through the roof, landing my album “I Make The Static” in the No. 1 spot on iTunes and Amazon, and No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 200.
[lz_third_party align=center width=630 includes=https://youtu.be/1O18Wh8sLvo]
Q: What projects are you currently working on and what role do you think art and artists can play right now in a culture that is very much divided and polarized?
A: I’m writing and recording my next single and my next album, and joining forces artistically with several brilliant minds in the industry. Lots of exciting things are planned for this year, including a feature film, concerts, speaking engagements, and some TV spots. I won’t say too much until the ink has dried, but several major projects are underway.
Q: Do you think more artists should be open about their politics? Many who have libertarian or conservative viewpoints tend to stay quiet out of fear. Is this something you think happens specifically in the music industry?
A: I believe an artist has the right to be open or quiet if they feel like it, just like any other citizen. I’m a believer in free speech and not censoring ourselves just because we think it will offend someone. This world thrives because of these freedoms, and the moment you tell one group to be quiet, you’re stopping that freedom. I oppose bullying from one side to the other. Attacking anyone based on their political beliefs or views is just ugly. As long as we choose to fight instead of listen, we will remain divided instead of moving forward together.
“I’m a believer in free speech and not censoring ourselves just because we think it will offend someone.”
Q: Trump’s new budget cuts a lot of funding for things like the National Endowment for the Arts. Do you think modern art is better served by funding from the government, or by the private dollars of citizens?
A: Artists will always thrive because artists create the future. Our dreamers are artists who paint, sing, write, and dance beauty and life into the world. I believe everyone has a responsibility to protect and further the arts by voting with their dollars, buying and going to see those artists you love, and continuing to educate and support budding artists with help and support.
Villa’s latest best-selling album “I Make The Static” is being offered through her website and other music outlets.