Kara Anaya, Grade 9, Staff Writer
Sitting Bull. Mount Vesuvius erupting lava onto the people of Pompeii. Migrant families torn apart at the border. Shakespeare’s infamous characters. Everyday people transformed into the heroes of comics. What do all of these seemingly random topics have in common? They were all interpreted and portrayed by someone within the walls of our little shack.
Sasha Matthews is an activist who pours her ideas and beliefs into comics. She is also a unique tenth grader at HSAS. Peter Kotchev, a fellow tenth grader, said about her work, “Sasha does what she has a passion for, and in doing so, is making the world a better place.”
Matthews made her first comic when she was in fifth grade. It was an extra credit assignment, and she decided to create a comic about Sitting Bull, the famous Native American leader. “I was mostly just doing it for fun,” Matthews said, “To be honest, I’m not even that good at drawing!”
The idea for her second comic book came from her enormous World History book. She illustrated Mount Vesuvius's eruption at Pompeii.
Matthews’s first taste of fame came when she received an invitation to go on Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots, where she was interviewed about her previous two comics. Then, she debuted her third comic, which told the story of Steve Harvey’s life.
Before the interview, she learned about the true meaning of luxury in the waiting room: “I met a bunch of really cool kids on the show in the waiting room, like when we were waiting for rehearsal to go on,” she said. “Everyone was super cool and it was so glamorous. They put sour patch kids in a bowl!”
Her time on television was only the start. Afterwards, she started a fundraiser for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she raised $11,635.83 by drawing pictures of people as superheroes.
Following this successful campaign, Matthews drew a four-page comic about a personal and relevant topic. She wrote about the tragedy of migrant families being separated. In her story, a mother and daughter flee the Democratic Republic of Congo to escape religious persecution. They pass the test that determined whether they qualified for asylum, but within a few days spent in temporary housing, they were separated, like thousands of other refugee families. The mother and daughter went to court with the help of the ACLU and fought to come back together, and after several months, they were reunited.
Matthews is seen as an inspiration by famous activists such as Michelle Obama, and she was even able to meet and talk to Senator Kamala Harris about the comics she has been creating.
Matthews’ next project is to bring Shakespeare to the modern world. She wants other readers to enjoy plays like Julius Caesar by making them more accessible through comics and simpler language. “I want to show how Shakespeare can be interesting and funny,” Matthews said. “I hope my comics will convince people to read the actual plays, because obviously they’re better than what I’m going to write.”
Peter Kotchev explained why he nominated Matthews for this piece out of all of the students in HSAS: “She does something unique in our school […] I love the work she is doing and I find her very impressive. She manages the HSAS workload and her business. Sasha’s work has a lot of meaning to me! She is one hundred percent unapologetically herself and is using what she loves to make a difference.”
Despite all that Sasha Matthews has accomplished in her young life, she has remained humble. “It’s all about drawing,” she said, “which is something that I do for fun, and then it only takes a little more work to do it for a cause.”