Episode 6: Michelle Lee
Our final instalment of this series stars Michelle Lee, global vice president of editorial and publishing at Netflix and the boundary-pushing former editor-in-chief of Allure magazine. During her five-year tenure at Condé Nast’s beauty title, Lee revolutionized beauty standards in magazines, banning the phrase ‘anti-aging’ from its pages and prioritizing inclusion and diversity across its content. The magazine became known for sparking change and shifting the conversation on topics such as race, aging and sustainability. And the industry sat up and took notice.
Today, her drive for ground-breaking content is unaltered, though the arena in which she operates has changed. Lee moved to LA in July 2021 to lead Netflix’s content platforms – from print and social media to podcasts and the streaming service’s global virtual event, Tudum. She continues to push for active change, with her work celebrating communities and voices which have been historically underrepresented.
Listen in to this episode, hosted by our fashion director Kay Barron, as Lee talks about her love of content – in all its guises – the beauty of telling ugly stories, and the importance of creating a sense of belonging through her work.
Read highlights from Michelle Lee’s interview below…
“Fashion and beauty are sometimes seen as very frivolous… But actually, if you think about what beauty truly is, it’s incredibly deep; it’s tied to so many different social and cultural things. It’s gender, it’s race, it’s skin color, it’s body, it’s so many different things that we talk about on a daily basis.”
“A lot of times when we’re considering new roles, we think about… the salary, the title and stuff. I’m past that point now… and I almost equate it to graduate school, right? That you pay money to get your graduate degree, because you want to go somewhere and learn something and further your education. If we all started to look at opportunities and jobs as that also, but we’re getting paid to learn something and to acquire new skills, it actually shifts the way that you look about so many different things.”
“I think one of the things we were really successful with at Allure was celebrating communities and people who had been underrepresented. And so, it’s a big component of what I’m doing at Netflix, too, just to create a sense of belonging for everyone. As an Asian-American woman, I think representation for me on so many different levels is incredibly important. So whether I’m at Allure or Netflix, I think that my passion for championing diverse voices has been truly the same.”
Episode 5: Marine Tanguy
For our penultimate episode in this series, we speak to Marine Tanguy, a French art entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of MTArt – an award-winning talent agency for the most exciting emerging visual artists worldwide. Tanguy set up her company with the aim of advocating for the people behind the artworks and increasing accessibility to the industry. Her approach concentrates on supporting and investing in the artists, covering their studio costs, implementing cultural and commercial partnerships and offering valuable press exposure. This position of agent-as-advocate helps to provide opportunities for talented creatives from all backgrounds.
Tanguy’s own path into the art world wasn’t destined – in fact she didn’t see an artwork until she was 18. She did, however, grow up surrounded by the beauty of the Île de Ré, an island off the west coast of France, and understands how the things we look at every day can have a profound effect on our wellbeing. Tanguy believes that art is essential and that we live in a visual world – one she wishes to make even better.
Listen in to this episode, hosted by our content director Alice Casely-Hayford, as Tanguy talks about the relationships that sustain her, how she discovers new talents, and why she respects the past while driving her field forward.
Read highlights from Marine Tanguy’s interview below…
“I’m definitely a doer. If I shake your hand and say I’ll do it, I turn up and do it. And I worry later. I think this kind of personality means that while you may feel insecure… you make things happen, and I think every time I saw an opportunity, I seized it and turned up to it and did it.”
“I think I’m lucky that I’m born in a way that I don’t need to please; I want respect. And I also don’t compromise easily on values. In fact, I didn’t compromise at all on values.”
“Realistically, I know very little about how to just get a business… But I think what I’m really good at is building a network and building a community of people. And then I go and reach for that advice. And I listen to it.”
Episode 4: Arlo Parks
In this episode we talk to Arlo Parks, the singer-songwriter and poet whose stunning debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, emerged from the bleakness of lockdown to garner the 21-year-old not only chart success, but a well-deserved Mercury Prize and Brit Award, too.
The London-born artist’s sensitive lyrics, hypnotic voice and wide-ranging subject matter – around themes of loneliness, identity and friendship – struck a chord with a world that was forced to look inwards for almost two years.
It was Parks’ teenage journals and notebooks that proved the initial inspiration to her creative process, and the catharsis she experienced when writing – where the confessor becomes counsellor – was also felt by her huge global audience, creating an empathetic connection that has made her an enthralling one to watch. Parks’ album may have captured all the darkness of the Covid-19 era, but her songs bring with them an air of hope and positivity.
Listen in to this episode, hosted by our content director Alice Casely-Hayford, as Parks talks about music-making, practicing positivity and the fashion that makes her feel powerful.
Read highlights from Arlo Parks’ interview below…
“I think engaging with my surroundings as they change allows me to feel less like I’m just being catapulted around with no control. I think just finding something that I would really like to do, and sometimes doing it by myself as well, allows me a little pocket of peace in the day.”
“This industry is definitely very, very difficult to navigate, I think – especially as a woman – but there is also a lot of beauty in it, and beauty and community and coming together and leaning on each other.”
“The best advice that I could give is definitely patience. You know, things do not happen overnight, no matter how they may seem on Instagram or YouTube; it can seem like it just happens in an instant, but it definitely doesn’t.”
“I think I realized the power of fashion to transform the way that you see yourself and threw myself into kind of pushing the boundaries… which has been really, really fun.”
Episode 3: Yalda Hakim
Yalda Hakim is an award-winning broadcast journalist, BBC World News presenter, correspondent and documentary-maker who made headlines last year when she did an impromptu interview with a spokesperson for the Taliban live on air as Kabul fell to the regime. The phone call became a defining moment in the reporting of the insurgency.
Hakim was born in Afghanistan, but her parents fled the country when she was just six months old, during the Soviet Afghan war. They eventually made a home for themselves and their family in Sydney, Australia, but when Hakim – who had known she wanted to be a journalist since she was a child – was 23, she made the decision to return to Afghanistan, driven by a desire to tell the extraordinary stories of those who remained there.
In the news sphere, Hakim has forged a remarkable career, reporting on the appalling realities of war – particularly its impact on women – interviewing global leaders and covering the plight of those living in conflict. Her determination to effect change on the ground led her to set up the Yalda Hakim Foundation in 2018, which is dedicated to the education of girls and women in Afghanistan and has so far supported the evacuation of more than 100 Afghan women since the Taliban’s return to power.
In this episode, Hakim talks to fashion director Kay Barron about the privilege and responsibility of her platform, why storytelling has always been part of who she is, and the women who inspire her brave reporting every day.
Read highlights from Yalda Hakim’s interview below…
“Sometimes people say, ‘You know, my job doesn’t define me.’ But I think storytelling has become so much part of who I am, and this has become so much part of what I do. I live and breathe it in many ways.”
“In that split second, I had to make a very, very quick judgement call… And while everyone’s trying to guess what the Taliban are about to do, here they are on my phone. And they’re the only people that the world wants to hear from now. So I pressed the green button… I have someone on the line who can give us answers, and I need to hold him accountable.”
“My disruptors of 2022 are these courageous young [Afghan] women… When you’re confronted with your basic rights being taken away, and you are willing to accept death to get it back, and you’re willing to take those risks in order to protect it for the sisterhood… For me, they remain a huge source of inspiration.”
Episode 2: Supriya Lele
Our second episode stars Supriya Lele, the British-Indian fashion designer and LVMH Prize winner leading a style revolution. Since launching her eponymous brand in 2017, Lele’s remapping of the female body – an exposed hip here, a bared midriff there – has tapped into the way women want to dress now, offering a completely fresh proposition that is at once sexy yet cerebral.
Taking inspiration and references from her cross-cultural heritage and the youthful rebellion of her teenage years growing up in England’s West Midlands, her work is defined by sensual draping and asymmetrical cuts. Lele is also incredibly proud to head an all-female team, a factor that in no small part reflects in the wearability and inclusivity of her collections.
Having grown up in a family of medics – her father was a surgeon, her mother an anaesthetist – Lele followed a different route entirely and initially started training as an architect. A flirtation with sculpture then followed, until she eventually found her calling when she switched to fashion, ultimately attaining an MA at the Royal College of Art.
Listen in as she talks to NET-A-PORTER’s fashion director Kay Barron about going against the grain in her career, the people and experiences that have shaped her, and why her brand is all about confidence and inclusivity.
Read highlights from Supriya Lele’s episode below…
“I think when you are a creative… your friends really shape your world and your language in so many different ways… It really broadens your thinking and horizons… And I think when it comes to building a creative language or creative world, that’s quite necessary.”
“I would probably describe my aesthetic as quite cerebral, and then aesthetically, it’s sensual; it has some romance to it. But then that’s contrasted with more subversive elements. I think there’s a tension between the two languages; the two worlds – and that intermix, I think, is crucial.”
“In terms of why I think it’s resonating with women now… we’ve been in lockdown for two years; I think people are wanting to embrace certain elements of themselves in different ways, maybe wanting to explore a bit more fun within their wardrobe or within their dressing.”
Episode 1: Laverne Cox
Kicking off our fourth series of the Incredible Women podcast, The Disruptors, is the trailblazing actor, producer and LGBTQ+ advocate Laverne Cox, who was catapulted to global fame as Sophia Burset in the hugely popular Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. The show saw Cox become the first transgender woman of color to play a leading role on a mainstream scripted television series, for which she won numerous awards and garnered critical acclaim.
Since then, Cox has taken on a host of exciting, thought-provoking projects, including the Oscar-winning feminist manifesto Promising Young Woman – directed by previous Incredible Women podcast guest Emerald Fennell – and, more recently, playing Kacy Duke in the true-story drama Inventing Anna. During this time, she has also continued and expanded her committed campaigning for equal rights and representation for the transgender community. And, as the host of her own podcast – The Laverne Cox Show – she interrogates a broad range of topics, from dating to dealing with adverse childhood experiences.
Listen in as Cox talks to NET-A-PORTER content director Alice Casely-Hayford about love, letting go of guilt, and why her work is centered on “beautifully flawed” characters and stories that challenge.
Read highlights from Laverne Cox’s episode below…
“It’s so wild, you know, disruption… But it’s undeniable that the career that I’m able to enjoy right now is possible because a system that was in place that kept trans people in the margins has been disrupted, right?”
“When I read the script for Promising Young Woman, I was just like, ‘I have to do this…’ I felt at the time that it was a genius script. And this woman [Emerald Fennell] was a genius.”
“I’ve had to let go of the guilt that I have around being successful… a successful trans woman, when there’s so many people in our, in my community who are not doing well. Me walking around feeling guilty about my success is not useful. It’s just not useful.”
“I love Oprah Winfrey so much and there’s so much about her life. She has taught us so much and continues to teach us so much if we listen about being responsible for our lives… It’s Oprah. It’s everything. She’s everything.”
Hosted by NET-A-PORTER’s content director Alice Casely-Hayford and fashion director Kay Barron, the lineup features interviews with an array of Incredible Women: award-winning actor and producer Laverne Cox, a trailblazing advocate for the trans community; designer Supriya Lele, who is known for her daring eponymous brand – and for creatively reimagining her heritage through her collections; Yalda Hakim, a news correspondent and presenter who has started a foundation to support the education of young women in Afghanistan; Arlo Parks, who made headlines in 2021 by shaking up the music industry with her confessional style and candor on issues impacting young people; Marine Tanguy, CEO and founder of MTArt Agency, the innovative art talent agency that focuses on, and advocates for, up-and-coming artists; and Michelle Lee, former editor-in-chief at Allure, who is now VP of Global Editorial & Publishing at Netflix and a passionate leader for diversity and inclusivity across the media landscape.
Dropping each week, these conversations will span these women’s phenomenal careers, as well as the key moments and events that have shaped their lives; while exploring their passions and successes, the challenges they have overcome, the lessons they have learnt and the vital changes they are striving for.
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