Talking to a room full of six and seven-old students is easy for Julie Henry. But this Saturday Henry will tell her story to an auditorium full of 800 spectators during the third annual That’s What She Said show at the Virginia Theatre.
Henry was approached earlier this summer by That’s What She Said co-directors Kerry Rossow and Jill Harlan about speaking at the 2015 event. Henry, who taught both Rossow’s and Harlan’s children in Champaign Unit 4 schools, was floored by the invitation, citing she did not have a story to share.
“I’m an average girl living an average life,” Henry said. Rossow told Henry, “That’s the whole point of the show; everybody has a story to tell.”
That’s What She Said began in 2013 when Rossow, Harlan and Casey Wakefield wanted to combat stereotypes women work to overcome everyday. By collecting a group of women with diverse backgrounds and age ranges, the That’s What She Said program has grown significantly over the years.
This year’s event will not only feature women telling their stories, but will kick-off with pre-event festivities, such as the Purpose Project Discussion Panel, Nailbot for Maker Girl, Paint and Sip Party and Pre-Game Wine and Cheese Tasting on October 17. That’s What She Said begins at 7 p.m. with an After-Party at V. Picasso.
October 18 will be filled with movies featuring strong female leads and stories at the Virginia Theatre.
Henry, who has attended two That’s What She Said events with co-workers and neighbors, classifies herself as a girl’s girl.
“I love a girl’s night,” Henry said. “(This event) is a chance to honor women. I like the candid feeling and openness of the speakers. I’m a very transparent person, and most of the time the speakers are being transparent on stage. I think I can identify with that.”
Although Henry does not feel like she has a profound or life-changing experience to share, she does feel that her unique experience of being an identical twin to her sister Jessica is something people will be able to connect to.
The twins, who were identified at fraternal twins just days after birth, recently found out they are actually identical twins a few months ago after DNA testing.
“I don’t think we ever really believed that we were fraternal twins,” she said. “It never really felt like that was right. There seemed to be something more connected about us. We think the same things, have all the same opinions, our friends are the same, our mannerisms are the same; we are very much alike.”
Her talk, titled ‘One Egg. One Sperm’ will highlight those experiences she shared with her sister over the years. She’ll talk about how she didn’t experience life alone until she left her family home in East Peoria to live in Georgia for a year right after she graduated from college.
Henry said many of their memories and experiences blend together to the point where they often have trouble distinguishing who actually experienced what. Now, with five sons between both women, one living in Mahomet and the other living in Washington, Henry said she talks and texts her sister constantly.
“Your twin is the one person you can truly be yourself around,” Henry said.
Drawn to real and vulnerable people, Henry believes being a twin has helped her be the transparent person she needs to be to share her story with 800 people on Saturday.
“What normal anyway?” Henry said. “My life seems so typical in many ways. But typical can also be beautiful. We all have so many unique experiences, but one can be just as valuable than the next.”
Henry said this last year has been surreal for her. Not only was she asked to be a part of the That’s What She Said event, but she also left some strong friendships at Champaign Unit 4 Schools and has been blessed to be a part of a strong team in her first year of teaching at Sangamon Elementary.
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