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 III.

Sofia Szamosi

Sofia Szamosi is a visual artist from nyc working in photo, video and illustration. See more at www.sofiaszamosi.net

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?

SOFIA SZAMOSI

See answer 3

CONVICTS

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

SOFIA SZAMOSI

See answer 3

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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?

SOFIA SZAMOSI

I work alone. Sometimes I wonder how much of this choice is driven by the fact of sexism in every workforce I have ever been a part of. My first on-the-books job, working at an art supply store from ages 18-22, was marked by male co-workers’ flirtations, comments on how young and fresh I was, and our boss, who acted as if I didn’t exist while talking shop with the guys.

 

When shipments came in, I pretended to be small and cute. My male coworkers jumped at any opportunity to relieve me of heavy lifting and return me to my place behind the register. When I asked for a raise after three years of minimum wage employment, my boss looked past me coldly. Overwhelmed by nerves, I started to cry. “I hate when women cry,” he said, raise not granted.

 

Fast-forward over working with the director who slept with his lead actress, the Broadway musical producer who promised big things if I would join him for drinks, or many other questionable interactions with men in positions of power.

 

 

Bartending was exhilarating at first and I felt unquestionably powerful. I was in control behind the bar. I enjoyed being safely removed from the world on the floor, where I watched the cocktail waitresses get tapped, grabbed and pinched nightly. I smirked at the drunken buffoons who forked over bills of all sizes at the minimal effort it took me to pass off a drink. I loved collecting sexy outfits and legitimizing them by saying, “it’s for work.” I loved watching how the dollars increased the more I paraded for the onlookers, all fighting for a moment of my attention. I loved meeting the musicians. One night I even got to meet one those musician’s managers, who seemed genuinely interested in my offer to make a music video for his client.

 

Until, slowly, suddenly, I hated all those things. What I thought had been my power turned out to be my delusion. That work became the source of uncontrollable tears in the nightclub bathrooms, swollen, blistered feet jammed into oversized heels, and red indentations on my hips where my tights cut into my flesh all night. I was tired in a way that no sleep would fix.

 

One night the manager of the musician I had hoped to make a video for returned. I waved hello eagerly and he greeted me with a blazing slap on the ass. I knew immediately what I had resisted knowing for years – the world of this job was not just demeaning but brutal. I was not seen as a person. Rather, I was an object to be quantified with tips and possessed if the number was high enough. No amount of wet, beer-soaked twenty-dollar bills could make that empowering.

 

So, today I work alone. I paint and draw and design from the safety of my own home, and when I do work with clients, it is on my turf. Unlike most women in the world, I have the luxury of opting out of workplaces that threaten and degrade me.

 

It is the women who don’t have that luxury that I want to support. I am gratified by the sounds of outrage and talk of change coming through my speakers as I listen to Democracy Now! and work. I am grateful for the work of women like Saru Jayaraman, president of Restaurant Opportunities Center, helping to bring forward the impact of harassment on women in the restaurant/bar industry. I am inspired by the voices of so many women who have lived through atrocities large and small, and are finally finding slices of airtime.

 

 

I want to hear from all of them. I want to hear all the ways that sexism hurts. I want to hear about the little things that seemed like “no big deal”. It is hearing their stories, the specificity and the details of their stories, that is most satisfying to me.

CONVICTS

What does the world need more/less of?

SOFIA SZAMOSI

See answer 3

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

SOFIA SZAMOSI

See answer 3

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

SOFIA SZAMOSI

See answer 3

Alexa – God Complex

 

Alexa Andreas is a gender-queer dance artist, theater maker, and drag performer.

Photo credit: James Ridley

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?

ALEXA ANDREAS

I faced a lot of bullying when I was young — from peers and even from some teachers in insidious ways. That was certainly something I had to pull myself out of and move beyond. But in terms of getting to where I am now, overcoming my own self doubt and overcoming the feeling that failure (which is so vital to making art of any kind) is a marker of self worth is honestly still maybe the most challenging thing.

CONVICTS

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

ALEXA ANDREAS

I’ve had a lot of “fuck it” moments in my life. I love saying fuck it. Love it. Every time I’ve had a big “fuck it” moment I’ve learned a ton. The most recent fuck it moment I can remember was actually backstage at a drag gig in February. I’ve been a performer my entire life and I don’t get stage fright but with drag it’s totally different. It’s so unbelievably vulnerable and I was experiencing crazy anxiety in the hour before I went on. The line up included this amazing drag king–Lee Valone–he was closing the show and they came in super late–during intermission, having just performed/hosted two other events. I was mid freak-out, I remember just pacing and guzzling water and feeling like I could vomit. Lee came up to me and asked what act I was doing. I told him, and he said something like “oh cool yeah I have no idea what I’m doing yet.” and I was like Oh shit, that’s insane. But then I thought–if Lee can come in and seem totally fine and not even know which act he’s going to perform, I can totally get up there and do this act that I’ve been rehearsing religiously in my room and on the subway and literally everywhere for the past five days. So I was like fuck it and I went up there and did my crazy thing and I thought it would be terrible but it fucking rocked. and when Lee got up to perform and close the show, he literally decided what act they were doing while they were on stage. And he was of course INCREDIBLE. And I was again like OH. Right. It doesn’t fucking matter. You have to say fuck it every time. You have to say fuck it an just go out and be as wildly you as possible. photo is by James Ridley

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?

ALEXA ANDREAS

I think we have a long way to go. But we’re moving. A few months ago I sort of decided I wouldn’t take any more bullshit, and that I would speak loudly back at it as often as I could. And I’ve stuck to it! It’s obviously at the micro level in terms of the grand scheme of things. But you have to start with yourself, right? And It’s been extremely useful. I feel like a stronger, more confident person because of it, even though it can be scary at times. We have so so far to go still– in many industries, especially when it comes to things like inequality and discrimination of many kinds, both overt and insidious. Discrimination and inequality are both rampant in the theater and dance world. In the drag world there’s a lot of misogyny too- female/femme/genderqueer drag artists aren’t always taken seriously. But that’s changing. So at least the drag world is stepping up.

CONVICTS

What does the world need more/less of?

ALEXA ANDREAS

More queerness, more kindness, less binaries, less violence.

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

ALEXA ANDREAS

People are often confused by what I mean when I say I’m a dance-artist. The phrase sounds really pretentious but when you’re a multi-multi-hyphenate across the spectrum of a form (like dance and theater in my case), you need something to capture it all, you cant hyphen hyphen hyphen forever. So by that, dance artist is just a catch-all term.

Also people outside of drag are extremely confused by what I do. So many people are confused by the phrase “drag king,” so many people ask about what that means. I generally don’t even try to bring up the phrase “gender fluid drag” or tell people I’m sometimes call myself a “drag they” instead of a “drag king” (though I call myself a drag king too). It’s exhausting to explain– I’m always like, just come see a show and maybe it’ll make more sense. Also like, don’t worry too much about it, gender isn’t too real anyway and in my opinion modern drag is here to destroy what’s left of it.

CONVICTS

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

ALEXA ANDREAS

Grace Jones, Bjork, Kathleen Hanna, Trisha Brown, Bebe Miller, Nancy Stark Smith, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera. There’s so many more. But I’ll leave it there.

Coralie Colmez

 

Coralie Colmez is a mathematician, artist, violinist, and author.

CONVICTS

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are?

CORALIE COLMEZ

I think challenges when you’re doing something that’s new. I find it quite incredible how reluctant people are to be open to new ideas. It’s pretty hard when you’re starting out or when you’re going into a new market to convince people to listen to you. I think that I found that the most challenging. If you go to people for advice they’ll tend to give you advice based on what they already know and you’re like yeah but this doesn’t apply – I don’t know. I find that people are not that good at thinking of new things. That’s the biggest challenge.

CONVICTS

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

CORALIE COLMEZ

I did actually have a fuck it moment. I found it pretty difficult at the end of university because my parents – my parents are both researchers in mathematics and it’s completely their passion. Growing up I always thought being an adult meant just doing what you want to do all day long. I got to the end of university and suddenly I was like – Oh there are only very few paths open to me. I can be something like a consultant or I can be a banker or I could be a math teacher or I could be a math academic. I already knew that I didn’t want to be an academic and it felt like the options were really limited but because I couldn’t really think immediately of another option I decided to apply to be a teacher. And then sort of a week before I was due just start…I got an e-mail from Carol Vorderman – she’s very famous in the UK. I had sent her a message six months before asking if I could work for her. She was heading a report about the state of math education. And then a week before I was due to start this new job I did get an answer from her and she said “Yes that would be great. And are you free to come for an interview?”.

 

I mean I feel a little bit bad but I just emailed the school and said “I’m not going to be here when school starts”,  and I just completely started on a different journey.

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?

CORALIE COLMEZ

I think it’s slightly too early maybe to have seen an actual shift but something that I’ve really seen recently in my group of friends and in general and in the news is that people are so much more willing to talk about all the issues that are going on. I’ll be at a dinner and you know most of the time, like 9 times out of 10 nowadays when I’m at dinner we’d be talking about Trump or that kind of stuff and I feel like people have started to engage a lot more, which is great. My friends are pretty liberal, all feminists but even amongst the feminist movement there are a lot of differing views and it’s really great to see people talk it out with other people who have different views. And I feel like that that didn’t happen at all as much, even last year.

CONVICTS

What does the world need more of & what does the world need less of?

CORALIE COLMEZ

I think the world needs more teachers. I feel like in every single country that I’ve lived in and worked in there’s always a shortage of teachers and that’s crazy to me because it seems to be one of the absolute most important jobs. And I think the world needs less weapons and military in general.

CONVICTS

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

CORALIE COLMEZ

That’s a very interesting question. So something the outside world doesn’t understand about what I do … it makes me a bit angry is when people tell me I’m lucky. And obviously I do feel lucky and I think that I have a great life but it didn’t happen in a vacuum you know. I made all the decisions that led to me being able to pursue my own interests alongside my work or be able to work from home. And so when people just think that’s all due to luck it makes me a little bit annoyed because it took some decisions that other people wouldn’t have taken you know to…to decide to run a company with someone or that kind of thing. And to build a life around what I want to be doing instead of just what you know I’m expected to do or that kind of thing. So yeah I do feel lucky obviously but I don’t think it’s only due to luck.

Brittaney Trent

 

Brittaney Trent is an On-Camera Talent and Producer for Yahoo! Sports. Her sports features concentrate on the compelling stories of professional athletes – Serena Williams and Michael Phelps to name a few – with a focus on topics ranging from race to mental health awareness. @brittctrent

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?

BRITTANEY TRENT

I have challenges everyday. Being the only black woman on my sports team I’m constantly battling with sexism and racism each day. And it’s exhausting! I would say the role that I am in now, is where I’ve experienced this the most. Sports can have a very “bro-ey” and misogynistic culture, that I’m kind of over at the moment.

 

And check this. I’ve been told so many things but one of the craziest is when my white male coworker said, “You don’t have to worry about getting fired or anything because you have two boxes checked: you’re black and you’re a woman.” Since when did those two things make you immune to discrimination?

 

Everyday I’m constantly fighting to prove that I’m worthy of this position. That I am indeed knowledgeable and experienced. Like hello men, I do I have masters degree and I’m more than a pretty face. Hence why I’ve had content to hit over a million views — had to toot my own horn a bit 😉

 

But I can’t say all my experiences aren’t all bad. There are a few males on my team where I can reach out to and receive positive support

CONVICTS

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

BRITTANEY TRENT

I might say “fuck it” right now! Haha maybe not now, but I did say fuck it right after college.

I graduated with a Psychology degree in hopes of becoming a therapist. It wasn’t until having an internship at a mental health center where I worked with individuals who were battling with suicide, addiction and mental health issues where I was like, “This is too much. I can’t have these people’s lives in my hands.”

 

So that’s when I decided to change career paths and get my master’s in journalism. Where now I try to bridge the two and highlight mental health awareness in athletes.

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?

BRITTANEY TRENT

You know I can’t say I’ve felt a positive shift personally in my industry yet, but I do think the sports industry is changing slowly. You definitely see many more minorities and women covering sports.

CONVICTS

What does the world need more/less of?

BRITTANEY TRENT

The world needs more support and less division. Which may never happen.

 

The only time you really see America come together and support each other as a whole is during the Olympics. Why can’t this be everyday?

CONVICTS

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

BRITTANEY TRENT

That the journey to get here wasn’t easy. When I first moved to NYC I was working 14 hour days and trying to finish my last semester of my master’s remotely. I was working for the worst possible boss and company culture you could imagine. I would always second guess myself and there were moments where I wanted to quit and take the easy way out.

 

But I didn’t. And I can say today is the first time in my 27 years of life where I feel completely confident and that’s because I know who I am. And once you know, no one can tell you who to be.

CONVICTS

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

BRITTANEY TRENT

This is a tough one, but I would have to say my mom. My mom is the epitome of a Super Woman. Not only did she (and my dad) raise me to be the strong, independent and ambitious woman that I am today, but I also watched her work hard breaking barriers to climb the ladder in Corporate America.

 

She’s now a Global Finance Director for a top Fortune 100 company.

 

But when I was younger I would see her so stressed, busting her ass and working late. One thing she would tell me is that when you’re minority, you will always have to work even harder to prove yourself. Your work may not always get recognized, but you have to keep going and never let it define you. Now I see what she means.