NAME: Liv Little
WHAT YOU DO: Filmmaker & Editor-in-Chief at gal-dem
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP
I wanted to be many things, when I was really little I was really into animal hospital and so a vet was on my agenda. However, people were constantly telling me that due to my ability to argue my points well and the fact that I didn’t shut up would make me a great lawyer. I’ve grown up in a household/family where lots of people have worked in the third sector. My mum used to provide business support for young people in South London to help them to become economically empowered and self-sustaining. Then my aunty and uncle worked at Amnesty, so I think eventually the idea of doing something with a humanitarian focus rubbed off and I decided I’d go down the human rights route. At uni I studied lots of topics with a focus on women – whether this be on prisons, homelessness or asylum in the UK and until September of this year I was going to do a masters in Gender and Law at SOAS and pursue that career path, I was offered a scholarship but at the same time I was offered a full time job working in TV which is a rarity so I decided to give that a go. Since starting gal-dem and to be honest, having always loved documentary film – I was always amazed by how media could be used to reach so many people on important topics. So I thought I’d give media a go and try to push with gal-dem from the outside and also try to push for change from within the machine.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND
So my parents divorced when I was four and I lived with my mum full time from then on, me and my dad are close but I don’t see him as much as I do my mum. Anyone who knows my mother knows that she is absolutely a force to be reckoned with and she always wanted to provide me with the education she wish she had had. We lived in a less desirable part of London and my grandma would look after me while she worked to send me to a good school. She’s definitely the reason as to why I’m confident, proactive and have quite a get up and go attitude. She encourages me to push myself a lot, whilst being a really nurturing and supportive figure. She says she used to take me to editorial meetings for the Buddhist magazine she used to be involved with and thought that I’d end up in journalism/media and here I am!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO & HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL
So I absolutely love my day job working in TV, I work for a great company and my mentor, Lisa Edwards (an ex commissioner at the BBC) has really taken me under her wing. She’s always keen to hear my thoughts and push me to try out new things and meet new people despite me being very new to the industry, which I think is a rarity. Having entered the TV industry to hope to be a part of the body of people pushing for things like better representation and just a wider variety of stories I do now see how slow it is to make anything happen. That’s frustrating, but I do have a youthful optimism about my ability to make bloody good TV. For every misogynistic, tokenistic individual I’ve met, I’ve also come into contact with some really incredible directors, producers and talent managers and I think it’s really important to forge good relationships with those types of people. I’m not a fan of networking for networking’s sake – I want to make good quality programmes with good quality people.
And then with gal-dem, I can’t fault the experience of working with a bunch of vibrant women who really are defining culture for the future. I love working with women and with every event or partnership the amount of hard working, fun individuals I get to work and often become friends with is multiplied. It’s the dream and we are working towards getting offices and enough cash to sustain it on more of a part time basis. We will see where it goes from there.
HOW DO YOU HOPE FOR YOUR WORK TO BENEFIT OTHERS OR MAKE THEM FEEL
I mean, in terms of television, I don’t know if I’m at a stage where the benefits will be measurable. I think at the moment, it’s more a case of appreciating the fact that having a younger and more ‘diverse’ voice will infiltrate some of the conversations being had at a senior level is what I can hope for. In terms of gal-dem I hope that people in general are able to take away and share in the beauty and multiplicity of the ideas, creative projects and general existence of women of colour. I’d also like women of colour to feel welcome, to feel like gal-dem is an exclusive space online as well as when we curate events IRL. I really want gal-dem as a community to feel open to everyone, it’s a break away from the old networks which dominate so much of the media landscape.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST CAREER MOVE OR DECISION YOU’VE MADE SO FAR
I’ve had various jobs scattered around university and school. This isn’t so much of a career move but in terms of one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had (other than gal-dem) has to be working as a researcher at women for refugee women. They are incredible and for such a small team are able to pump out such an incredible support network for women seeking asylum in this country and have a real impact in the political stage. Their work never stopped.
BALANCE IS THE THEME OF NIKAO’S CHAPTER 5 COLLECTION AND RULE WRITER CAMPAIGN; SO WE’D LIKE YOU TO TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR VIEWS ON THE TOPIC!
Hah! I’m honestly such a hypocrite when it comes to balance. I’m really trying to get better though. I had a week of chronic migraines recently and I think that was really my body screaming ‘leave me alone and love me please!’ and since then I have gotten a lot better. I’ve done a few things which I can tell have made an active difference in how I’m feeling. I say no a lot more now – you can’t really go and speak at a million events, work with a million people and be your best self all in one go. It’s impossible and I’ve definitely taken myself to the point of burning out on a few occasions. I’m just trying to be kinder to myself, to eat well, exercise (when I can find the time) and do activities and things which aren’t gal-dem or work related. I’m pursuing a few personal projects but at a pace where there is no rush, so they remain enjoyable. My family has recently been shaken up as my step dad is really unwell and he is someone who finds it really hard to switch off, I’m seeing the effects which overworking and stress can have head on, so yeah, I think it’s really important to acknowledge how you and your body feel and be kind to yourself. I’m trying to only do the things I really want to do, the things which feel right and anyway, I think it’s important not to overexpose yourself and your brand. You have to be strategic.
GAL DEM IS GROWING AT AN AMAZING RATE, BUT LIKE MANY OTHER CREATIVES OR DEVELOPING ENTREPRENEURS YOU ARE RUNNING YOUR PROJECT ALONGSIDE HOLDING DOWN A FULL-TIME JOB, AT LEAST UNTIL YOUR PROJECT ALLOWS YOU THE FINANCIAL FREEDOM FOR IT TO BE YOUR MAIN FOCUS. TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK AT GAL DEM AND YOUR OTHER JOB, AND HOW YOU’VE MANAGED TO BALANCE THE TWO
It’s pretty difficult to balance at times to be honest. My full-time job know about gal-dem and they have been flexible on occasion but I’ve had to make sacrifices to focus on my responsibilities here, which is something I was aware of going into it! I think it’s made easier because I love what I do and there is a degree of overlap. I’d find it really hard if my job was outside of media. There are definitely skills and contacts which I can steal from here and feed into gal-dem and I know that applies to most of the girls who are all working full-time and juggling the most. I’ll be going freelance from August and hopefully we will have office space/a studio by then!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST HIGH OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR
I think curating our first V&A takeover. That was iconic and to be honest I wasn’t expecting that kind of reception. That was a really big day for us, a really big day. I still look back on the pictures, videos and articles written about that night and feel emotional.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LOW OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR – HAVE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME ANY MAJOR STRUGGLES, ADVERSITIES OR OBSTACLES
Obstacles present themselves all the time and to be honest, more often than not, these tend to come from people misrepresenting the work we do, not respecting our wishes or being outright sloppy. This could be a stylist not listening to what we want on a shoot, make-up artists not coming prepared to work with your skin, working with bouncers who are disrespectful towards the women at our events, being misquoted in an article or people reaching out to us in a disrespectful or sloppy way. But I think all of these things can be channeled into something positive, we learn a lot from all of the unfavourable experiences which we have. We know which venues and brands we will and won’t work with from it and we have learnt that we are well within our right to voice our concerns and opinions.
ARE THERE ANY AREAS OF YOUR LIFE WHERE YOU STRUGGLE TO FIND A BALANCE
I think in my last relationship, I was an absolute work-horse and couldn’t switch off my phone even for an hour or two. I’m trying to have times now where my phone and emails are off-limit and I just read a book, listen to a podcast or watch some TV. Just do something pretty mundane to allow my brain to switch off.
INSTAGRAM AND SOCIAL MEDIA ARE PLAYING A MAJOR ROLE IN MANY OF OUR LIVES, AND CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT TO BALANCE AMONGST OUR OTHER COMMITMENTS. HOW IMPORTANT IS SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOU AND HOW DO YOU MAKE IT WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE AND NOT ALLOW IT TO TAKE OVER YOUR LIFE
Social media is definitely a really useful tool for your personal and business brand I guess. I didn’t have Instagram or Twitter until starting gal-dem because they seem like necessary CVs in the digital age. I went through a period of deleting Instagram again and again, but it’s back and probably here to stay aha. I think for me, I try to use different platforms for different things. I have fb, which is more family and friends (although I’m using Instagram a lot more) and then Twitter is more professional and for work related stuff. Some people are really great at curating things like Instagram (not me) which is why for gal-dem we have social media coordinators who bang and can make it look amazing.
ARE THERE ANY SOCIAL, POLITICAL OR OTHER IMBALANCES IN THE INDUSTRY THAT YOU WORK IN, WHICH GIVEN THE CHANCE YOU WOULD CHANGE
Yes, for sure. I think media in general is very white and very male in general. But what is particularly frightening is that the gatekeepers are too, we need more forward thinking individuals in top positions. We need people who have the power to commission TV shows, to provide funding within a museum and who scout for talent who are truly committed to represent society and not just an elite sub section of it in the media. I’d want to see more variation than your white, male oxford graduates making the big decisions. At the end the day, young people of colour do shape culture but things get messy when the only interpretation of what matters to us comes from people who are SO far removed from reality.
IF YOU WERE YIN WHAT OR WHO WOULD BE YOUR YANG
I’d be a professional traveler, getting paid to explore food throughout the world I reckon.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF BEING A RULE WRITER & WRITING YOUR OWN RULES AND HOW HAVE YOU APPLIED THIS TO SHAPING YOUR OWN LIFE AND GETTING TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE IN YOUR CAREER
I’m in one job where I can’t just write my own rules, I can suggest things but really at my level the impact which I’m going to have isn’t going to be huge. I’ll have to wait to get to director or commissioner level for that aha. But I think it’s important for my sanity that I work on things which really do mean a lot to me. I think if you feel like something doesn’t exist which should that is probably because it’s necessary. I’m certainly not the only person who was frustrated with the representation of women of colour in the media – it’s all about taking that step and being brave in instigating some change (however big or small it could be). The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t take off in the way you had hoped and that’s fine. You can come back to things and try and again. Even when something does take off it doesn’t mean that you won’t fail sometimes, things fall through all the time.
WHAT RULE OR RULES OF YOUR OWN DO YOU LIVE BY
I suppose it’s all about maximising your happiness and the happiness of those around you. This can come in a variety of forms however big or small.
WHICH WOMAN INSPIRES YOU AND IS THE ULTIMATE RULE WRITER
My mum! She’s my hero and honestly has dealt and is dealing with so much adversity every day. Her outlook on life and her resilience are incredible. My ex is always saying how they miss my mum (probably more than they miss me).
DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE IN 3 WORDS
Simple, cute and relaxed
PIECE OF JEWELLERY YOU CAN’T BE WITHOUT
The tiny silver hoops in my ears. I like really unfussy jewellery and it has to be silver.
CURRENT FAVOURITE SONG OR ALBUM
This isn’t current but I just rediscovered Kelis’ Tasty album and have been enjoying remembering how much it bangs!
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT MOVE
Several events and then in September I’m going freelance which is a big change for me, I’m nervous yet excited.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO SPREAD THEIR WINGS AND WRITE THEIR OWN RULES
I always say this because I think it’s SO true. Find your people, surround yourself with people who inspire you. Nobody works in isolation. I’m constantly inspired by the women I work with which is a great thing and something I’m super grateful for. Maybe even find a mentor if you can.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU/YOUR WORK
Liv’s pictured above wearing pieces from Nikao’s AW17 Chapter 5 “Balance” Collection. Available for pre-order from August ’17