Ever wanted to find out what life is really like for women in the creative industries? Well brand new podcast, The Candid Ambition, aims to do that with its share of career focussed, fun and insightful interviews. We sat down with its two founders, Hannah Lovejoy and Sophie Ross to talk about careers, competition and their own fierce ambition!
Where did the idea for Candid Ambition come from and what exactly does ‘Candid Ambition’ mean?
Hannah had been thinking about making a podcast for a while, and decided to ask Sophie if she wanted to make a joint careers podcast. We thought it would be a great opportunity to interview people in the media industry whom we respect and also a great way to help others in our situation, as we get increasingly frustrated with the lack of help that there is for young people trying to pursue careers in the media industry.
Candid Ambition means being honest about your dreams and aspiration. So often people are told to be more realistic with their career choices but we think the bigger, the bolder, the better.
If someone asked you to describe what Candid Ambition is all about in one sentence, how would you sum it up?
A fresh perspective on the creative industry, providing an inspiring and practical tool for people breaking into the media.
How would you deal with competition from other radio shows or podcasts tapping into the same content?
All we can do is be ourselves, and hope that others are inspired by our content. There will always be competition and similar shows no matter what we do, so we just have to keep creating our own original content as a brand and hope that people love it as much as we love making our show.
What kind of women do you interview on your show and why?
We interview well-established and well-respected women within the industry. The guests on our show have been picked because they have either helped us in our own careers or they have influenced our career paths. We have also selected guests who we think can help our listeners.
Would you describe yourselves as feminists?
We believe that men and women should be equals within the industry, but we don’t label ourselves as “feminists” because there are too many definitions to it. We know that there is still a long way to go in terms of gender, sexual and racial equality – but we think people spend far too much time defining themselves by labels, and there is so much more to a person than that. We think people should be referred to by their aspirations and goals – not just one characteristic about them.
Hannah, in a society that tells so many young people that the only way to progress is university, what was your motive for not pursuing traditional education and not taking that route?
For some people university is great, but I just never had my heart set on it like so many people do. I never really felt well supported through my GCSEs or sixth form, and always felt alone in my career path.
I started working in the industry when I was 17, and learnt a lot more from working in a radio station 12 hours a week than I did in two years at sixth form.
Following on from that, what advice would you give to young women who are thinking of not going to university, but rather working or wanting to start their own business?
Take the risk. Apply for your courses, and defer it. University will always be there if you want to go, but work experience is so hard to come by. If you secure something just run with it and see where it takes you.
Everyone is stuck in the idea of securing jobs and internships with massive brands, and they forget that they can do it themselves. You sometimes learn more when you start your own business because you’re doing everything yourself. You create your own success.
Sophie, seeing as you are currently at university, what pros and cons do you see in having further education?
The pro’s would be being taught by industry professionals, having access to equipment and being taught to keep tight deadlines. The con’s are feeling like you could have been working in the industry the whole three years that you’re there. Sometimes you feel as if you’re missing out on opportunities, but I think it’s important to be patient. It’s always going to be a bit of give and take and university certainly isn’t for everyone. I feel that I really decided to go because I was scared and felt like having a degree would give me more of a security blanket.
There will always be the big debate of whether or not to go but I think we both respect each other’s choices and use both options to advance us. We may use the facilities at my Uni and then Hannah may take me to a film screening. We’ve been lucky as I feel our different experiences have gone hand in hand to help each other. I don’t regret going. I believe it’s always better to not have regrets.
How would you describe your working relationship with each other not only as two young women, but also as two young close friends?
We attended a Q+A for Tina Fey with Glamour Magazine, and we asked her how she maintained her relationship with fellow comedian, writer and best friend Amy Poehler. She told us that the reason they work together is because that’s the only time they get to see each other because their schedules are so busy. We really related to this, and four months on and here we are. So thank you Tina Fey for creating Candid Ambition!
Do you think your appearance has any effect on your career prospects in the media?
Definitely because if we’re honest people judge you before you even speak. It’s just human nature and we are all guilty of it. We are aware of having to look a certain way but we think that we live in a more accepting generation. You could be the most stunning model in the world but have an ego bigger than Kanye West’s. Image is a big part of the creative industry, but the entire package seals the deal.
What’s your dream job?
We used to have very specific “dream jobs” and then we started working in the industry. We have ideals that we’d like to achieve, but no one has one career anymore so we don’t put our dreams in a box. We work in silence, and our success speaks volumes.
We have both experienced what we like to call “dream stealers”. This is when you share your specific goals and aspirations with people and then they decide they want to do the exact same thing as you.
Would you not feel like you’ve inspired someone that wants to do the same thing as you?
There’s a difference between inspiring someone to do their own thing, and someone being unoriginal and taking what others have worked hard for. We’re making this podcast because we want to help likeminded people and inspire them to forge their own paths on their career journey.
If we can help people get a job by passing on a contact, then of course we’ll do that but the rest is up to them.
You’re both avid users of social media. How important do you think social media is to the development and progression of young women in the creative industry?
Social media makes and breaks your career nowadays. We have both secured all of our professional media jobs and work experience through social media contacts. In one episode of our podcasts we also talk about how you should represent yourself on social networks because that is VERY important.
What does it mean for you to be a young woman in the 21st century and what do you love about being a woman?
It’s pretty dope to be part of a generation that is really accepting and forward thinking. Being a part of the modern day technology is amazing; we have a lot more chance to progress then we would of had even just 10 years ago.
What do the words “Girl Power” mean to you?
As the Spice Girls so effortlessly put it: “Spice up your life, every boy and every GIRL, Spice up your life!”
What obstacles or difficulties have you come across as a woman trying to break your way into the industry, and what advice would you give to other young women trying to deal with these issues too?
We know that over 90% of media is controlled by men, so there are barriers to break but they are being broken slowly and steadily.
Our advice would be to just be yourself, and don’t let other people’s definition of “womanhood” and “beauty” restrict your way of thinking. Just because you didn’t fit one job description at one time, doesn’t mean that you won’t fit someone else’s at another time.
How important is it for women to support each other in the creative industries?
SO IMPORTANT! We saw a tweet recently that said: “How to be a cool lady? Help other ladies!”
We’ve all got to stick together. If you’ve got to the top by slating other women, then it’s going to be pretty lonely at the top. Why would anyone want that? Surround yourself with genuine, inspiring friends and you’ll be fine.
What key qualities do you think women need or should have to break their way into the media or creative industry?
You need to have the entire package. You need to have your own style, your own voice, and be influential to others. Also passion – that will carry you through everything. Never try to be someone else, because you can never be a better version of them. You can only be the best version of you.
You’re both in the early stages of your careers, so how or in what ways would you want to see the creative industry progress and change for women in the next five years?
We’re the millennial generation, and have grown up in the digital world and social media, so it’s fantastic to see how this has had an impact on women in the industry. We just hope that the sector continues to grown and create more opportunities for young people.
What’s the best thing about doing your podcast?
Having creative control over it and having the freedom to create what we want to see. It’s amazing getting to interview people who inspire us, and asking them the questions we – and our listeners – want to know the answers to.