Marsha Stephanie Blake makes #MarshaMasks for Healthcare Workers

Over the next few weeks, Extended Play will be bringing you stories from members of The Civilians Associate Artist community. First up, Marsha Stephanie Blake tells us about her #MarshaMasks.

Civilians associate artist Marsha Stephanie Blake models two of her homemade masks. Photo courtesy of Marsha Stephanie Blake

For the past month, Associate Artist Marsha Stephanie Blake (“This Beautiful City,” “In The Footprint”) has been sewing homemade cloth #MarshaMasks for healthcare workers. Marsha spoke to Extended Play about what inspired her to start making masks, and the headbands that set her masks apart. Follow Marsha on Instagram at @MarshaStephanieBlake for more information!

Marsha and her sewing machine. Photo courtesy of Marsha Stephanie Blake.
Marsha and her sewing machine. Photo courtesy of Marsha Stephanie Blake.

“I started making masks about 3 weeks ago (Maybe? What is time anymore?) because my dear high school friend Dr. Ayisha Edwards was lamenting that they did not have proper or even enough PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). After speaking with my two sisters who are also in healthcare (one a doctor, one a social worker), I realized the problem and concern was widespread. Until then I’d never really heard doctors and nurses sound genuinely fearful for themselves and their loved ones. So I started making cotton masks for them to wear over their PPE in order to preserve the life of what little N95 protection they had. I then opened it up to anyone on my Instagram who reached out and was an essential worker. I’ve made now about 85 masks, I’ve lost count. The only thing that slows me down is waiting for supplies (fabric, elastic, buttons) to be delivered. But on slow nights I have wine to comfort me. Friends have sent over encouraging words and port.”

A list of recipients for Marsha's masks. Photo courtesy of Marsha Stephanie Blake.
A list of recipients for Marsha’s masks. Photo courtesy of Marsha Stephanie Blake.

“I also found out that wearing masks all day long sometimes for 23-26 hour shifts was really hard on the ears of our healthcare workers. So I started making headbands with buttons that they could attach the masks to, instead of putting elastic behind the ears. My #MarshaMasks are free, headbands free, shipping free to essential workers. It’s the least I could do.”

Marsha Stephanie Blake has been a Civilian Associate Artist since bringing heathens to Jesus in her virtuosic rendition of Pastor Reynolds’ sermon in This Beautiful City.  You may have caught her on or off Broadway in various other performances or on television in “Orange is the New Black,” “This Is Us,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “The Blacklist,” to name a few. Her films “The Laundromat,” “See You Yesterday” and “Luce” are currently streaming. She recently received Emmy and Critics Choice nominations for her role as Linda McCray in Ava Duvernay’s acclaimed miniseries “When They See Us,” the story of the boys known as the Central Park Five. She is currently quarantined in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. 

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