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Listen To The New Guard Of Incredible Women

In the third season of our Incredible Women podcast, The New Guard, we spoke to six trailblazers rising to the top of their fields – and bringing change to their industries and beyond. Here, we highlight what they had to say on everything from positive representation and reshaping the narrative, to going viral and realizing your worth. Download their episodes in full to continue the conversation

Lifestyle
Clockwise from top left: Yumi Nu, Tavi Gevinson (center), Charli XCX, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Elsa Majimbo and Quannah Chasinghorse

Charli XCX, singer-songwriter

On the first song she ever wrote…

“I formed a couple of playground bands when I was younger. One was called Sunrise… We had this song called Man, Oh Man… I think we were about seven when we formed and maybe seven and a half when we took our ‘long pause’. But it’s funny… me and Millie, one of the other members, we were together not too long ago – and we both remember every word to that song.”

On how the industry has changed since she started out…

“Even from when I just signed [aged 16], there were certain specific roles that women could play in pop music, and there weren’t many of them. I feel like, now, some of the biggest artists in the world are so far outside of that mold… Like there are no rules on how to be a female pop star… There are many, many different voices being represented within mainstream pop music now.”

On the advice she lives her life by…

“It’s cool to be kind. That is really a lame sentence when you say it out loud, but it’s so true. I think there is a lot of pressure to be cool and a bit aloof.”

Yumi Nu, model and singer-songwriter

On the concept of ‘worthy work’…

“We came into this world with a set worthiness that doesn’t change, that’s just as much as everyone else – the belief that we can be more or less than other people is a complete societal construct.”

On checking in with herself every day…

“I got this practice from my life coach… He told me to set a timer on my phone every day. I just put, ‘How are you feeling from one to 10?’ I stop whatever I’m doing and I take three big deep breaths. And I’m like, ‘OK, if I’m at a five, where do I want to be?’ And then I check in with my body… Because I’ll be going through the day thinking, ‘Oh, I need to do this. I need to do this. So just have a reminder set, like, ‘OK, it’s time to connect with yourself. What do you need?’”

On the need for greater representation…

“I hope that, with time, all forms of Asian representation and Asian voices are still continuing to grow… For more Asians to have positive representation and positive amplification.”

Tavi Gevinson, actor and writer

On starting Rookie as an online publication when she was a teenager…

“Once I started high school, I wanted something I could relate to. I wanted a more centralized community for these different voices I was reading online and [who] I was in conversation with.”

On her essay Britney Spears was never in control, which she wrote for women’s online magazine The Cut

“I feel like a lot of what I was seeing in my echo chamber [when the documentary Framing Britney Spears was released earlier this year] was people being like, ‘Oh my god, this kind of treatment by the media would never fly now, we’ve come so far.’ And in a lot of ways, we have – it’s in part because girls who grew up then are women in media now… [But] when we cover people in the media, stories about individuals are so much more exciting than stories about systems or patriarchy or racism – or any of the things that create the scaffolding.”

On what motivates her to write…

“I think knowledge is power and I do hope that, even if I’m thinking on the page and I feel conflicted about something, it is clearing some kind of space in another person’s brain – to look at things a different way or to make connections in their own lives.”

Elsa Majimbo, comedian

On the first time she realized she was going viral…

“I never expected people to react like that to my content… I went to my friends and I was, like, ‘Oh my goodness, guys, I’m going viral.’ And they’re like, ‘No, you’re not.’ I was like, ‘Check this out.’”

On making a career in comedy…

“I always thought I was funny. I always thought I was hilarious. And I would make myself happy. I just never thought of comedy as a career. And I didn’t really think other people would necessarily find me funny, but they do.”

On always being herself…

“If it’s not a personal experience for me, it just doesn’t make sense to put it out there. Because I feel like I’m being someone else. And being me is awesome. I’m the best person I know. I’m freaking amazing, so I always want to be me.”

Melissa Lozada-Oliva, poet and writer

On her 2015 award-winning poem, Like Totally Whatever…

“It kind of disappoints me that it’s still relevant, because I wish, you know, people didn’t have to feel bad about the way they speak. But I’m glad it still hits that chord.”

On writing complicated and non-clichéd female characters…

“I think we’re in a rather exciting moment where people want stories about complicated women, and they want to see a main character on the screen who is messy and doesn’t have her shit together.”

On the women who inspired her…

“I grew up in a house of just women and they were all really intense, loud, angry, hilarious women who were very complicated and are very at the core of who I am… I think my love for them, for my sisters and my abuela and my mom – and how messy and hilarious they are, really inspires me to draw up complicated women.”

Quannah Chasinghorse, climate warrior and model

On raising up Indigenous voices…

“I really, really want to start seeing more people in power opening up and making space for Indigenous voices, because we hold so many solutions to today’s issues. Yet our voice is always absent in those conversations.”

On asking her ancestors to guide her…

“If there are moments where I feel discouraged, or I feel hurt or I’m struggling with whatever it is, I just ask [my ancestors] for guidance and I pray to them [to] help guide me and give me strength to continue to walk this path in the right way.”

On the best advice she’s ever been given…

[My mom] always told me [to] remember who you are… And be proud of that. Never forget who you are, and where you come from. Those were the things that she always said, and that really stuck with me.”

To listen to this and other episodes of The New Guard, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify*, Google Podcasts, and many more.