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.
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.
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.
Alicia Keys. Elle Brasil
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.
"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.
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.
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?
Thank you to GC4W for including me in their Top 100 Women In The World list. I'm doing what I love and I feel very lucky. There's been a lot of push back against diversity initiatives recently, and it has really escalated in the last couple of weeks in particular. So I truly appreciate the support and the positive reinforcement.
Misty Copeland is the new face of Estee Lauder. Zoe Kravitz was just announced as the global ambassador for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté. Naomie Harris and Adwoa Aboah feature in Miu Miu's fall campaign. Janelle Monae and Zoe Kravitz (again) have Tiffany's campaigns. It's always good to see the beauty/luxury industries, who command such influence, embracing diversity.
Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. I struggled with this issue my whole career. Knowing I was sometimes being paid less for equal work. And it is so hard to prove and navigate. There’s no transparency around salaries and even when you have the facts, I’m telling you, it’s really hard to walk into a room and ask your boss or HR why your counterparts are earning more than you. Black women make on average, 63 cents for every dollar a man makes and 17% less than their while female counterparts. Awareness and acknowledgement are the first step. Then we need to implement policy and put in safeguards that protect people of color in the workplace.