We visited Refinery29's 29Rooms event in Brooklyn, New York, this week to get an insider's perspective on how the Instagram funhouse is creating change and sparking conversations. Nothing says Mary Jane Paul like telling your story, change in your community, women's empowerment and daily affirmation. Let's take a journey through some of our favorite rooms as they relate to MJ's life.
HEAR OUR VOICE in collaboration with Women’s March: Capturing the potent spirit of activism from the Women’s March, this space takes you back to that historic moment, asking you to channel your creativity to unite and use the power of our collective voices.
MJ's World: In an extremely controversial political climate, Mary Jane Paul stands as a wonder woman of color. She's always an advocate for serious issues happening in her community, standing for change for not only her people, but also women as a whole. MJ is a Black girl who rocks and cares wholeheartedly.
TALES WE TELL in collaboration with Emma Roberts & Karah Preiss: A larger than life typewriter will set the scene in this space inspired by Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss' Belletrist book community and celebrating female authors and helping to keep the art of storytelling alive.
MJ's World: Mary Jane Paul is an author in her own right. As a broadcast journalist, she is always looking for ways to tell her story through her voice on and off screen. Everyday, she works to leave her positive mark on earth through her work.
SEARCH PARTY mural in collaboration with Turner’s TBS: In anticipation of the new season of Search Party on TBS (premiering Nov. 19), Refinery29 created a hypnotizing installation that pulls onlookers in and transforms them into playful promo artwork for Search Party inspired by Hitchcock's iconic poster art.
MJ's World: If anything describes Mary Jane Paul, it's problems. Man oh man does that woman get herself stuck between a rock and hard place. Don't we all miss when our problems were about nothing?
THE FUTURE IS FEMALE in collaboration with Madame Gandhi and Jen Mussari: Take out your frustrations on handpainted punching bags by illustrator Jen Mussari. Fit with punching gloves and surrounded by the pumping sounds of the powerful single "The Future Is Female" by electronic music artist Madame Gandhi, guests will create a beautiful, stress-free symphony together.
MJ's World: A woman of many frustrations, whether it's breaking down and crying or screaming at the top of her lungs, every episode we experience Mary Jane's trials and tribulations, as all women do. Despite the bumps in the road, MJ has looked to the future and seen herself as successful. No matter what it takes, she gets herself to where she always planned to be.
SHRED IT in collaboration with Jake Gyllenhaal: Through roadblocks and hurdles, challenges and setbacks, the true strength of the human spirit lies in our ability to persevere and overcome. Inspired by the message of resilience and renewal in the upcoming film Stronger, in this space take whatever's weighing you down and turn it into art. The film, starring and produced by Jake Gyllenhaal, is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman, who, after losing both of his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, went through an extraordinary journey of personal strength to rebuild his life. Shred the past, let it go and come out stronger.
MJ's World: In almost every episode, we can remember a weight on Mary Jane's shoulders. Despite all the roadblocks, setbacks and doubt, she picked up her things and moved from Atlanta to New York, letting go of fear with hopes for change. This room is a representation of the Post-Its in MJ's life. Sometimes she keeps them on the wall and in her heart and other times she crumbles them up and tears them apart. She always finds symbolic ways to let go of the things that weigh her down.
BRIGHT FUTURE in collaboration with Planned Parenthood: This large-scale installation shines its bright neon lights on the importance of providing quality health care and accurate information to everyone no matter who they are or where they live.
MJ's World: In this episode, we remember Mary Jane's struggle with fertility and pregnancy. We learned that MJ has trouble getting pregnant in one of her segments and it brought to light the importance of health care and science. Where would we be without medicine, doctors who care and the power of science?
GENDER NEUTRAL in collaboration with Jill Soloway’s Topple: Recreating the refuge and familiar sanctity of a high school bathroom, this space invites guests to listen to first-person stories on their own of the first awareness of gender identity from Roberta Colindrez, Rhys Ernst, Alexandra Grey, Amos Mac, Bashir Naim and Pigeon Pagonis. Created in collaboration with Emmy-winning director and creative force Jill Soloway and artist Xavier Schipani, the intimate space lets attendees share in these highly personal moments of self-discovery.
MJ's World: Remember the time Mary Jane stood up for her best friend who was scared to come out to his parents? Or what about the time she shed light on transgender lives and men that cross dress. A young male teen was harassed for wearing a kilt and MJ turned it into a whole segment. MJ is always looking to have these conversations, and bring important topics to the attention of others. She stands for equality.
EROTICA IN BLOOM in collaboration with Maisie Cousins: Inside this multi-sensory experience, artist Maisie Cousins blurs the lines between sex, art and nature. Inspired by the age old sexual symbolism of flowers, guests will step inside life-sized pods for a provocative and playful thrill ride featuring custom content that engages all the senses.
MJ's World: Nothing represents the start of a new relationship in MJ's world the way flowers do. The first time Justin bought MJ flowers, it became more than just sexual encounters, but the start of something new.
THE ART OF INNOVATION in collaboration with Cadillac and Jason Wu: Bringing Cadillac's design legacy to life, this room features a soaring display of items emblematic of human ingenuity. Dipped in the custom hue created by Jason Wu to mark the conception of sister brand GREY, the installation will mimic the mind's journey from a fleeting thought to a personalized full-fledged creation.
MJ's World: Describe Mary Jane in one word and it would be daring. She takes risks at the expense of her health and job. What others see as the unknown, MJ sees as her challenge and opportunity for change. Mary Jane dares greatly.
JUST BE in collaboration with Ashlee Haze, Jonathan Rosen and Wallplay: In collaboration with spoken word artist Ashlee Haze, artist Jonathan Rosen and Wallplay, this space will surround guests with the words of Haze while Rosen's interactive mirror allows them to reflect and celebrate different aspects of their bodies without limit or judgment.
MJ's World: Although she is a woman of strong self-esteem, like any human, she has her doubts. MJ's Post-It notes on windows and her mirrors around the house have always been her constant reassurance for the ability to overcome any challenge that comes her way. She is constantly reminding herself that she is enough. For more on MJ Quotes, visit the MJ Quote Wall.
We sat down with Refinery29's co-founder and Executive Creative Director Piera Luisa Gelardi to get a better understanding of how the rooms were designed and where the inspiration comes from. Click here for the exclusive BET interview. Be sure to catch Being Mary Jane on BET, Tuesdays at 10P/9C!