Glamour's Women of the Year

Every year Glamour Magazine's Cindi Leive brings together the most inspiring change-makers, to shine a light on the important work they do to move the needle on key issues for women and for all marginalized communities. For her last awards as Editor in Chief of the magazine, Cindi assembled a veritable roll call of the most powerful activists, artists and advocates of our time. They included Maxine Waters, Solange, astronaut Peggy Whitson, Sarah Weddington (Roe v Wade), Ruby Bridges, Samantha Bee, Zendaya, Anita Hill, Chimamanda Adichie, Serena Williams, and the list goes on. The event reaffirmed my faith in the power of the women's movement and that women will be the ones to lead us forward to a better future. The future is female!

Cindi Leive, Dee Poku

Cindi Leive, Dee Poku

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

Solange

Solange

The Women's Convention Gave Me Life

The movement created by the Women's March organizers continues to go from strength to strength. Last weekend I spoke at their first convention in Detroit, which brought together 4000 women from across the country to discuss everything from running for office to immigration reform. I personally spoke on three panels - exploring the role of cultural influencers which featured Ibtihaj Muhammed, Piper Perabo, Yandy Smith and Jackie Cruz;  the status of women in film with Alia Shawkat, Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker and Amber Tamblyn and and the importance of entrepreneurship with Piera Gelardi, Jennifer DaSilva, Tracy Reese and Arian Simone

Being at the convention was like being with family.  I was so inspired and moved by all the women I met and their powerful stories. From the mothers who travelled in from Flint to learn how to best to use their voices as activists, to the budding young filmmaker being sexually harassed by a supposed mentor, everyone was there to share, support and learn. A huge thank you to all the amazing speakers and participants who shared such great wisdom.

Yandy Smith, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Piper Perabo, Dee Poku, Jackie Cruz

Yandy Smith, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Piper Perabo, Dee Poku, Jackie Cruz

Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Dee Poku, Amber Tamblyn, Alia Shawkat

Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Dee Poku, Amber Tamblyn, Alia Shawkat

No Such Thing As A Mommy Goddess

I didn't feel like the greatest of mothers this morning. Sebastian was digging his heels in because we didn't have his favorite cereal and he wanted me to play lego. He's barely seen me over the last month so he's acting up. Meanwhile I had to ensure he was at school on time and get to a breakfast meeting so I had to half pull/carry him out the door. You need endless patience to be a good parent, and this morning I just didn't have the energy to sit and reason and explain. To find that patience you have to make time for self care. You have to be rested and nourished. And right now I'm neither. So yes, let's break the myth of the mommy goddess. Thank you Time Magazine for this story.

 

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Battle Of The Sexes Is A Must See

I felt so energized after leaving the screening of Battle of the Sexes. The film, which stars Emma Stone and Steve Carrell tells the story of the now historic tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. King blazed a trail in the early 1970s as an outspoken activist for equal pay.  Hearing the blatantly sexist remarks being casually bandied about and the shocking disparity in salaries reminded me of how far we've come and how much still needs to be done. Congratulations to my great friends Simon Beaufoy and Christian Colson for writing and producing Battle of the Sexes. And of course, so good to watch the movie with a great group of female change makers. 

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Can Our Schools Raise Good Citizens

My son started kindergarten today. Why is the first day of school such an emotional experience? It really was for me. So much more than I was expecting. I also wonder whether in these fraught times, there's a heightened sense of anxiety about how we raise good citizens and also, the world we're sending our kids out into.  

Can we entrust our schools to teach our kids civic responsibility and the need to respect their fellow humans no matter what creed, race or sexual orientation? This requirement has risen from midway on my list of school criteria to the top 3. Our kids spend around 70% of their time at school, absorbing lessons from teachers and fellow pupils alike. If we're to change the world for the better, we have to look to how we're raising the next generation and the values we're instilling in them.

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Real Is Whatever Makes You Feel Good.

I have friends who love makeup and have fun with it - they are empowered by using it. Others, like me are ambivalent. I like the way it makes me look but it just feels like work. At a recent talk, Zadie Smith shared her frustration at the amount of time her daughter spent in front of the mirror and attracted both praise and criticism for imposing limits on her grooming time. I see her point, particularly when it comes to buying into society's beauty standards. Alicia Keys has eschewed makeup because for her, it felt like she was hiding behind a mask.

For me, there's no wrong answer. Here's one area where women should be left to choose their own path. To do whatever makes them feel good. But I always catch my breath when a woman in the public eye allows us past the facade. Keys looks incredible here on the cover of Elle Brasil.

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Alicia Keys. Elle Brasil  

Festivals Should Move Culture Forward

I’ve attended a number of festivals in the last year in preparation for my own upcoming female focused gathering The Other Festival. Festivals present an incredible opportunity to bring diverse groups of people together, move culture forward and facilitate dialogue. To educate and inspire. Not everyone uses that opportunity. It’s why we need Afropunk.  This weekend I saw female headliners (a rarity) such as Solange and SZA , imagery designed to provoke conversation, political fashion, and numerous social justice organizations such as Planned Parenthood and The Gathering For Justice. More of this please.

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On Camera, Start By Being Your Most Authentic Self

"There's no time that I go on TV and I'm not somehow nervous. It's adrenaline. Embrace the anxiety. It's energy you can use to make your performance stronger." Media Trainer and Political Strategist, Jehmu Greene.

It was so enlightening to hear the words of wisdom from this morning's masterclass host, TV correspondent Jehmu Greene.  A black woman defending progressive values on the likes of Fox News, Greene knows better than most, the value of being on top of your game. From understanding your body language, to knowing your audience and interviewing the producer in advance, our WIE Network members learned the importance of leaving nothing to chance. The smallest detail left unchecked, can lay all your best laid plans to waste.

 

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Let's Keep Telling Our Own Stories

It was an honor to interview filmmaker Vance Ford last night for the British Academy of Film & Television (BAFTA). In 1992, 22 days prior to the acquittal in the Rodney King case, Ford's brother William, an unarmed young schoolteacher was shot in cold blood. His attacker was then acquitted by an all white Grand Jury. It's sad to see how little has changed. Ford's documentary about the case and its aftermath, Strong Island, won the Special Jury Documentary prize at Sundance and is released by Netflix next month. We have to keep telling these stories.

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What Makes Working Mothers Want To Leave The Workforce?

On three separate occasions this week,  high powered, career-minded female friends of mine told me somewhat bashfully how much they wouldn't mind just giving up the rat race and becoming stay at home moms. The bashfulness was interesting because I guess they expected me, their feminist freedom fighter friend, to be a little disapproving.  But of course I feel quite the opposite.  The whole point of feminism is to give women the right to choose. Work outside the home, stay at home, all options are great if you make them from a position of strength.

But the reason for this particular post is to share what these women had in common and it's that they all hated their jobs. They were sick of the politics of corporate culture and the daily grind. So the question is, if you do what you love does that make the daily wrench away from your children every morning a little easier?  I think it might. I'm so passionate about my work and of course, as an entrepreneur I get to be my own boss and make my own hours. I can't imagine leaving it behind to focus solely on motherhood much as I idolize my son. I wonder if this rings true for others?