Everyday women are working to reach new heights in their respective fields. Here’s a look into the lives of women who are breaking out of societal norms everyday, and creating their own standards for success. Part II. 

Fazeelat Aslam

Fazeelat Aslam is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. She co-produced the documentary short “Saving Face” (2012), which won an Academy Award and an Emmy.

CONVICTS

Breaking the mold, taking that risk is never easy. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are?

FAZEELAT ASLAM

The decision to move to Pakistan after college was a big risk. The country was falling into turmoil, in my first year as a news anchor a former prime minister was assassinated and emergency rule was declared. It was definitely not on par with how my peers were spending their 20s.

But the struggle was even more fundamental than the political unrest in the region. As a young, unmarried woman just finding a place to live was incredibly difficult. As my family belongs to the upper rung of society, me living alone “tarnished” my reputation, because I didn’t live with my father and align my identity with him, people saw and treated me as less. It was hard enough doing the traumatic work, and risking my life on regular occasions but on top of that I was criticized for not wearing the right thing, looking the right way or behaving as an elite, young, single woman should.

I don’t know what was harder, the 6 years of conflict reporting or living in such an elitist sect of society.

CONVICTS

Did you have a ‘fuck it’ moment in your life?

FAZEELAT ASLAM

I may currently be in the midst of one. Stay tuned.

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Have you experienced a positive shift in your industry, or in your daily social interactions due to the recent social movements such as #metoo and #timesup? How do think these movements are influencing other industries outside of your own?

FAZEELAT ASLAM

It is radical to sit down to dinner with friends in the film industry and hear how people like Dustin Hoffman are getting kicked off jobs, and the fall of powerful men like Weinstein finally facing the repercussions of their criminal actions. We’re finally talking about it, which is necessary for change. A silence has been lifted around sexual harassment and assault in a way that is creating a shift, but the extent of its positivity is too early to determine. We must ask ourselves who is naming names and who is paying the price? So far the circle of shame and change is still in the hands of those with great privilege and power, those of lesser socio-economic standing still struggle to have their voices heard. We’re in the early days of grasping and extending the nuances of intersectionality. Even the hashtag #metoo suggests we’re all in this together, but ignores the disparities in experience that race, class, sexual orientation, and religion can create. The question I hope everyone is asking themselves is not who is next, but why do these gender dynamics exist and how do we together, both men and women, shift them?

CONVICTS

What does the world need more/less of?

FAZEELAT ASLAM

The world needs more empathy, more truth to the power, to celebrate feminism in all its shapes and forms, and balance between humankind and nature. We need to deconstruct capitalistic structures and patriarchy. Also RuPaul should be president.

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What’s something the outside world doesn’t understand about what you do?

FAZEELAT ASLAM

Documentary filmmaking can be deeply exploitative. No one makes sure that filmmakers aren’t exploiting the people they’re documenting. So often vulnerable people are exploited in documentary film, filmmakers bribing subjects with offers of a better life, scripting what subjects should say, forcing subjects into dangerous situations for exciting footage. These same filmmakers are at times lauded as change-makers and inspirational figures. Many documentarians are out there to speak truth to power, not sell salacious stories — but more than a few of them are in documentary for the performance of being a good person, without the moral burden of actually being a good person.

CONVICTS

Who is a woman (or women), past or present, that you admire?

FAZEELAT ASLAM

My family lived outside of Pakistan most of the time — where I grew up mostly watching film actresses who were white and looked nothing like me — so the representation I saw in Bollywood films was incredibly important. One of my favorite movies growing up, “Mr.India,” starred Bollywood star Sridevi as Seema Sohni. Seema was a crime reporter. She was single, unafraid of authority, she loved taking risks, and she lived alone without a husband! She also dressed up in elaborate, sparkly costumes to go undercover and wasn’t afraid of looking goofy on camera. Sridevi passed away last month, and as the first women on screen I admired who also looked like me, her loss still hurts a great deal.

Aliza Kelly

Aliza Kelly is an astrologer based in New York. She is the resident astrologer for Allure Magazine, where she has a weekly column. She will be releasing her first book, The Mixology of Astrology: Cosmic Cocktail Recipes for Every Sign, in August 2018.

CONVICTS

Breaking the mold, taking that risk is never easy. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are?

ALIZA KELLY

It’s an exciting and terrifying journey learning how to make strong, confident decisions that aren’t fear-based. Instead of trying to achieve everything at once, I’m practicing the art of chipping away at my aspirations, piece by piece.

CONVICTS

Did you have a ‘fuck it’ moment in your life?

ALIZA KELLY

I hate rules, so my life is defined by “fuck it” moments. Recently, I’ve been practicing self advocacy by articulating my needs. As women, systemic sexism has taught us to lead with apologies and express gratitude for any answers, no matter how bullshit they are, that we receive. Fuck that. Women are entitled to make bold statements, ask direct questions, and receive straightforward responses.

CONVICTS

Have you experienced a positive shift in your industry, or in your daily social interactions due to the recent social movements such as #metoo and #timesup? How do think these movements are influencing other industries outside of your own?

ALIZA KELLY

Thanks to Jupiter’s transit through Scorpio (among many other cosmic and terrestrial happenings), the national reckoning has lifted the proverbial rug, exposing dust, parasites, and monsters. I’m inspired by the many brave women who have shared their stories, both during the Me Too/Time’s Up movements and before. It’s important to remember that not every industry is as glamorous as entertainment: Many women suffer from sexual assault and harassment without ever being offered multi-million dollar contracts or celebrity status. Societally, we need to remember that progress is more than wearing a black designer gown to an award show. We need to continue to actively listen, explore nuance, and support women unconditionally.

CONVICTS

What does the world need more/less of?

ALIZA KELLY

More empathy / Less patriarchy.

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What’s something the outside world doesn’t understand about what you do?

ALIZA KELLY

I am not a fortune teller. As an astrologer, I use a celestial rubric to shed light on past, present, and future circumstances. The planets and stars are archetypes: They help deepen our understanding of self and other. We are dynamic, energetic forces of consciousness. My practice embraces free will, celebrates choice, and promotes agency. Within each person is a complex cosmology — a symbolic bond between the universe and existence. We alone have the power to manifest meaningful transformation. We are the conduits of magick.

CONVICTS

Who is a woman (or women), past or present, that you admire?

ALIZA KELLY

Lucille Ball is my hero. She was fearlessly ambitious, culturally innovative (she founded the first female owned production company, and her show featured the first interracial couple on television), and brilliantly funny. She is also a Leo sun with a Capricorn ascendant and eighth house stellium, so we are cosmically connected.

Kayleen Schaefer

Kayleen Schaefer is a journalist and the author of the memoir Fade Out. Her work has been in publications such as The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. Her latest book, Text Me When You Get Home, examines female friendships in modern society through interviews and her own personal experience.

CONVICTS

Breaking the mold, taking that risk is never easy. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are?

KAYLEEN SCHAEFER

When I first left the suburban Texas town where I grew up in to move to New York, everyone who still lived there kept asking when I was going to come back, and for awhile, I assumed I would go back too. Admitting to myself, and telling my parents, that I didn’t really ever want to go back, took some time.

CONVICTS

Did you have a ‘fuck it’ moment in your life?

KAYLEEN SCHAEFER

When I got laid off from my job as a senior editor at Women’s Health, I decided to become a freelance writer instead of looking for another staff position. That was risky for sure, but I found out I really liked working for myself and kept doing it even when it didn’t make much financial sense — eventually doing that opened me up to being able to do bigger writing projects, like my book.

Joel Barhamand, Penguin Random House.

CONVICTS

Have you experienced a positive shift in your industry, or in your daily social interactions due to the recent social movements such as #metoo and #timesup? How do think these movements are influencing other industries outside of your own?

KAYLEEN SCHAEFER

Yes, I think men I work with are more aware of their actions and how they affect the women around them now, which is important, and I think for sure people outside media are paying attention too — guys who might not have thought about the patriarchy before are considering it now.

CONVICTS

What does the world need more/less of?

KAYLEEN SCHAEFER

More of: Tim Riggins

Less of: Complaining about minor inconveniences, like flight delays.

CONVICTS

What’s something the outside world doesn’t understand about what you do?

KAYLEEN SCHAEFER

Writing is often regimented. Sometimes it’s less about being fueled by creative genius and more about just finishing however many words you said you’d write that day.

CONVICTS

Who is a woman (or women), past or present, that you admire?

KAYLEEN SCHAEFER

Emma Gonzalez, Serena Williams, Cardi B, Rebecca Traister, J.K. Rowling, Michelle Obama, Zadie Smith, Katie Couric, Mindy Kaling, Madonna, RBG, Gayle King, Demi Lovato, Greta Gerwig, Hillary Clinton, I mean I could do this forever…

Molly Sheridan

Molly Sheridan is a make up artist who works in film, TV, and fashion. She co-founded REEK Perfume in 2016 with her mother and they have two signature scents: Damn Rebel Bitches and Damn Rebel Witches. REEK perfume boasts cruelty free production and no retouching involved with their imagery. These are some morals we can get behind.

Sara & Molly by Stew Bryden.

REEK images of Molly by Bethany Grace.

CONVICTS

Breaking the mould, taking that risk is never easy. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are?

MOLLY SHERIDAN

As a makeup artist it’s been letting go of my own personal taste and learning to see through your clients eyes, figuring out what they’re trying to achieve and what is actually possible. I love the phrase ‘these are hands, not wands’ because you’d be surprised how often you get asked to perform magic! With REEK it has definitely been baptism by fire going into the world of perfume. We’re constantly called a marmite brand and I think that’s true. Accepting you’re not for everyone and not trying to fix that has been a difficult lesson to learn, in life as well as perfume!

CONVICTS

Did you have a ‘fuck it’ moment in your life?

MOLLY SHERIDAN

I feel like my whole life has been a fuck it moment! I dropped out of school when I was 15 and had no idea what I wanted to do that week let alone in life. After shuffling about for a few months I decided to throw myself into a make up college course, on a whim it would be fairly easy and at least it would be a handy skill for helping my friends get ready! Little did I realise the job is much harder than it says on the tin. Stumbling into the world of beauty has been a great path for me. It’s lead me to lots of exciting projects and every day is different, from painting famous faces, standing in fields with beautiful models trying to keep their hands from going blue, working with charities to teach people skills that they will use in everyday life like trans makeup lessons and hair loss workshops to being a smelly bitch at REEK perfume. The best advice I have ever been given has been ‘fuck it’ in its various forms. If you have the opportunity to take chances I say always take them.

CONVICTS

Have you experienced a positive shift in your industry, or in your daily social interactions due to the recent social movements such as #metoo and #timesup? How do think these movements are influencing other industries outside of your own?

MOLLY SHERIDAN

Working in media, I feel there is no difference in the way women are treated at work. I don’t see those changes for myself as a crew or with female artists/models. The conversation is louder but it doesn’t seem to have pushed a big change in people’s actions, just their attitudes. That said in my daily interactions online I see a big difference, the most obvious change to me is on social media and online platforms. The movement is growing slowly and we should all keep feeding it. I can’t see any obvious changes executed for people’s day to day life, but it’s definitely the start of a big change and a lot of people joining in the conversation. It’s great to see people called out for their behaviour in the media/press, but that’s happened before, I hope to see it being followed up by publications and platforms following through with being transparent about who and what they promote.

CONVICTS

What does the world need more/less of?

MOLLY SHERIDAN

Support. We all need more support and we need to support each other.

CONVICTS

What’s something the outside world doesn’t understand about what you do?

MOLLY SHERIDAN

A lot of people think that being a makeup artist is glamorous. It’s not. In fact, I would say it’s the opposite of glamorous. Even if you’re getting flown abroad for an exciting photo shoot, staying in hotels and sitting in fancy cars the reality is normally really early starts, long days, dealing with everything from morning coffee breath to painting toenails and hauling around 1000s of products in a suitcase with the constant fear you’ve forgotten the one thing you need!

With REEK perfume it’s definitely that people think it’s a big company and actually it’s just me and my mum, Sara. I’m forever getting people turning up at our ‘head office’ which is my mum’s apartment where we keep all the perfume in her garage! We love it though, everyone is welcome to come in for a coffee and talk to us about perfume and feminism at REEK HQ! But we might still be in our dressing gowns…