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Act Like A GRRRL 2014 will be held Monday - Friday, June 2 - 27, (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) at the Actors Bridge Studio at LeQuire Gallery.

Public Performances are Thursday - Friday, June 26 - 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Belmont University's Black Box Theater. 
Tuition for the 4 week program is $1000. 
A limited number of need-based scholarships are available.


The application process has three steps:

1. Complete the online form in the box on the right.

2. Once we review your application, we'll contact you to schedule an interview
with veteran GRRRLS and Vali.

3. Letters are sent by email within 48 hours of your interview letting you know
if you have a spot in the 2014 circle.  

**Please note that you must be available for the entire month of June (M-F; 9-3) to be eligible for ALAG**

Watch the GRRRL Video

Watch the GRRRL-Bolivia Video

Read our blog




Act Like A GRRRL (ALAG) is an autobiographical writing and performance program for teenage girls to develop self-identity, articulate values and gain public voice while working with female mentors and peers from diverse backgrounds.

We form an intentional community where girls from varying schools, neighborhoods, cultures, faiths and socio-economic backgrounds come together to support each other in the process of self-discovery. We write about our lives, learning to critically and compassionately examine beliefs, values and goals while holding each other accountable to the values associated with independence and empowerment.



Teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 18 who love to write, are interested in self-discovery and want to change the world for the better.  


You must be available to attend the full program (no drop-ins), have a deep interest in the process. Beyond that, applicants are accept on a first-come basis. There are a few need-based scholarships available; so, don't let money be an obstacle if you're interested!


At ALAG, you'll learn important life skills like team building, negotiation, compromise and leadership in addition to enhancing the your writing, dancing, acting and singing talents.

Over the course of the program, the group will:

  • write over 20 narratives, working with mentors to edit and clarify their thinking and descriptive ability.


  • dance for 1.5 hours/day, learning new forms of movement and deepening their connection to their bodies and exercise as an ongoing practice.


  • sing for 30 minutes/day, coming together as a collective to create harmonies and melodies to express their feelings.


  • create an original script based on their writings, dances and songs.


  • stage and perform the original script before a public audience for two performances at the end of the program.


As Vali explains, "We discover the power of creating something from nothing. We begin every year with a blank page. At the end of the process, we have scripted and performed a new theatrical work. In the process, the grrrls learn their power to create their own reality and transform from the girl they used to be to the 'grrrl' they want to be."




We chose the name “Act Like a GRRRL” to reclaim language that is often used as an insult.


We aren’t going to be acting like G-I-R-L-S. In our culture, it’s never a compliment to be told you do anything “like a girl.” But a GRRRL is something entirely different. It’s a fresh word that allows each individual to define what those “extra Rs” mean for her. See some of the Nashville grrrls’ definitions:  http://grrrlblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/what-is-a-g-r-r-r-l/.



The Act Like a GRRRL Model is based on Vali's graduate work in the performance of personal narratives for personal and social change.

By bringing together young women from diverse backgrounds who otherwise would not have met, ALAG becomes an incubator for radical personal growth. Vali developed a three-step process of scripting, sharing and performing that has been successfully used with teenage girls, adult women, incarcerated women and a multicultural collection of teenage girls in Bolivia.



Act Like a GRRRL intervenes in a teenage girl's life at a time when she is getting cultural messages to become more passive.  

Research shows that adolescent girls are encouraged to be silent, to conform and become invisible. At the precise moment that people are asking her to "sit down and shut up,"  ALAG invites her to stand up and speak out.  As cultural anthropologist Sherry Ortner explains: "In adolescence, girls begin to deny what they know to be true from their experiences in order to maintain their relationships and function in the world."

Vali explains: "Scripting and performing one's own life story in this climate of silence, conformity, invisibility is a rite of passage experience. To stand in the spotlight saying: 'This is who I am. This is what I believe. This is what I worry about. This is what I dream of...' is an act of great courage and personal agency."

GRRRL Results

Act Like a GRRRL gets powerful results.  To date, participants report:

  • 0 drug use

  • 0 pregnancies

  • 0 truancy


plus a significant increase in

  • self respect

  • trust of other grrrls

  • improved relationships with family and friends

  • intolerance for bullying

  • academic excellence

  • hope for the future

100% of ALAG graduates have gone on to college.


The GRRRLS Speak

 "Act Like A GRRRL helped me realize I don't have to follow in the footsteps of past generations, I don't have to focus on the bad moments that have happened in my life. I can set and achieve my own goals, be the shining being I'm supposed to be, and most importantly have tremendous faith in myself."  --- Jenna, age 16

" Act Like A GRRRL is the group you thought didn't exist. The one that you could only dream of having." -- Augusta, age 16


" Act Like A GRRRL is probably the best thing to happen to me. It opens up so many opportunities that I probably would never have imagined possible. It helps me to embrace how brightly I shine. It reminds me daily that I can do whatever I set my mind to. Act Like A GRRRL changes lives. It sure did change mine." -- Chelsey, age 18



" Act Like a Grrrl is an intention to build a community where there are no judgements, and where we seek to break the stereotypes of girls being negative toward one another. Without ALAG, I wouldn't be as brave or accepting as I learned to be and I wouldn't have chosen the career path that I did. Every young woman who seeks to better herself and her community should be a part of this group."  -- Kamilah, age 22, Middle Tennessee State University


"ALAG inspires you to reach beyond the boundaries you didn't realized you had imposed on yourself. You can take charge of your life and allow your fullest ambitions to be realized.  ALAG instilled in me a spirit to 'prove them wrong,' and go after typically male-dominated studies and professions, specifically in astrophysics, optics, and philosophy.  I feel smarter and more capable now than I ever thought I could be."   -- Haviland, age 23, graduate of Agnes Scott College, preparing for graduate school in atmospheric science



Hope for the Future

Act Like a GRRRL is a program that works.  It has been successfully adapted for adult women, incarcerated women, middle school girls and teenagers in Bolivia. In order for the program to expand to reach as many women and girls as need it, Vali is developing a facilitator training program to certify instructors in her methodology.  


To get involved, contact Vali at vali@actorsbridge.org


Go to Act Like a GRRRL website.

Listen to WPLN story about ALAG

Read article in HER Magazine

Read article in Tennessean

Read article in El Financiero

Eventbrite - Celebrate International Women's Day by Helping a GRRRL Find Her Voice


To give to ALAG scholarships, click on the button above or make your tax-deductible check payable to Actors Bridge (memo: ALAG) and mail to:

Vali Forrister
Actors Bridge Ensemble
4304-F Charlotte Ave
Nashville, TN  37209


Details on Gifts in Celebration of Cyan Scarpati

Gifts in the memory of Vali's Mom can be sent to the Carolyn Forrister Maddux Scholarship Fund

How do I volunteer?

Founded in 2005, ALAG is an annual, four-week, autobiographical writing program for girls aged 12-17 offering the space and support for young women to gain a public voice, work with professional female mentors in a variety of creative fields, and foster friendships with peers from diverse backgrounds. Rooted in the exercise of writing to articulate one's personal experiences and beliefs, the program is augmented by guest artist workshops in performance, dance, and multicultural studies. The experience culminates in a public performance conceived, created, and enacted entirely by the GRRRLs themselves!

Why we're acting like GRRRLs:

"Numerous studies have shown that when they hit adolescence, formerly assertive, confident, healthy girls begin to change. They stop excelling in math and science courses, they develop eating disorders and anxieties about their bodies, and many become depressed or engage in cutting, binge drinking, and other self-destructive activities; in short, they begin conforming to the demands of a culture that is often hostile to them. ALAG creates a place for girls to express themselves, to practice speaking out and learning what they have to say, to practice being strong and loud, to practice taking up space. ALAG introduces the girls to strong women--through readings and through guest lectures--who make healthy decisions about their own lives and bodies. ALAG also gives girls the tools to analyze critically the culture in which they live so that they become active change agents rather than passive recipients of cultural messages. ALAG celebrates girls' strength and girls' voices and by so doing, promotes girls' leadership.
-- Dr. Alison Piepmeier, Director of Women's Studies at the College of Charleston & 2005 ALAG Co-Director

What our GRRRLS are saying:
"ALAG is a program that focuses on raising girls' awareness of their bodies, themselves, their beauty and their relation to the world. Through introspective writings, dance, art , music, poetry and performance, ALAG teaches girls how to think for themselves and take charge of their lives in the spirit of the women who lead them, filling them with heart and soul for the journey ahead."
-- ALAG 2007 GRRRLS' collaborative mission statement

What Moms are saying:
"Act Like a Grrrl has, quite simply, changed my daughter’s life… helping her find a path that is meaningful and true. She loves who she is now, as well as the woman she will be. More young women should have the opportunity to participate in programs like this; it’s been a wonderful experience for our family."

"This experience of working with girls both older and younger is community at its best sharing, writing, working, and playing.  She loves to write and part of that emerged from the experience of ALAG."
"I can tell you, without any hesitation, that this experience has changed and shaped the destiny of my daughter in nothing but the most positive ways.  At 15 years of age, she possesses not only a healthy self-confidence, but a remarkable understanding of the wisdom and beauty and challenges of girls and women all over the world.   More importantly, she has been imbued with a desire to be an agent of change, to better herself, and in some way, to help build a better world."

"Act like a grrrl has given my daughter confidence to be herself and to value who that is and to walk to the beat of her own drum rather than following other drummers….It is so unique, she has met girls unlike any she has met anywhere else, and these girls have inspired her, and the adult mentors have also become very important to her. It is also helpful to me to know there are strong female voices for her to listen to and hear when she is not in the mood to hear mine."

For more information, contact: Vali Forrister

ALAG is made possible by the generous contributions of many individuals as well as the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission.

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