As a regular sketch performer on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” for eight years, stand-up comedian Angelina Spicer (BFA ’03) felt like she was well on her way to making a name for herself in Hollywood. What she did not anticipate, after giving birth to her daughter in 2015, was losing her sense of humor to postpartum depression and anxiety.
“I was trying my best, ’cause listen – we’re Bison. We don’t take no for an answer; we press on, regardless of adversity. Regardless of the circumstances. We press,” Spicer says. However, pressing on was no longer an option, and Spicer found herself feeling trapped, alone and depressed for nearly eight months. “And for that whole eight months, I didn’t find anything funny. … I couldn’t find the humor in it because I was so in a funk.” Her therapist then encouraged her to check into an in-patient facility.
After being in the psychiatric ward for 10 days, Spicer realized that the information she received from her friends and family about life after having a baby was “all a lie!” Which prompted her to theme her stand-up special, titled “Waldorf Hysteria,” as “They All Lied.”
Spicer took a year to focus on her mental health, and, in addition to her comedy work, she started advocating for women’s health rights initiatives in the state of California. With the help of her social media channels, nonprofits started asking her to be a spokeswoman for a comprehensive legislation package of three bills:
- expanding screenings for new moms;
- training medical professionals on how to administer screenings; and
- creating a database of referrals for doctors and patients.
After helping successfully pass those bills in California, she was asked to lobby on Capitol Hill for similar federal legislation, which is when she teamed up with another powerful Bison – then Senator Kamala Harris. This year, she launched her “Postpartum Revolution Road Trip” comedy tour through several cities, which included a screening of her comedy special plus panel discussions with local survivors and medical professionals.
Spicer is also creating a documentary about postpartum depression and her journey of advocacy and comedy. She is currently crowdfunding the project. “I want to really create a project that’s not triggering to moms, that feels like the conversation where moms don’t feel like they’ve been lied to,” she says, noting that she gives the “hard honest truth, but with laughs and with hope, not from despair.”
Spicer credits her time at Howard as to why she is able to keep advocating for herself and these important pieces of legislation. “Howard prepared me to reach beyond what I thought was my bandwidth to really soar. And if it had not been for the preparation that [my professors gave me] I would have folded a long time ago in Hollywood.”