Fierce Females: Breanna

Breanna

What is it that empowers you most?
I feel most empowered when collaborating with people in creative settings. I love hovering over a roll of trace and madly scribbling ideas with a design team— teaching international students how to dougie whilst repping the “stank face”— painting murals with inner city children and watching their faces light up with each brushstroke— I live to ignite that spark in others. Architecture, dance and art have been my favourite catalysts

What do you love most about yourself?
I love my ability to discover latent potential in anything, from abandoned objects to dilapidated cities. I refuse to look at the world as a static, impervious place. With imagination, there is always room for positive change.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Dancing. Any place, any style. There is nothing quite like getting lost in a song and trusting your body to explore the extents of the rhythm.

Who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model is my nana. She has experienced loss at unfathomable levels her whole life, and remains the most selfless person I know. Her patience is unwavering, and her faith and love for her family, indestructible. She is also fluent in six languages [self-taught]. Oh, and she is by far the best cook ever.

In addition to my nana, I want to take this moment to celebrate all of the incredible people in my life:

Here’s to my dad, who taught me how to hold a hammer, and the value of hard work. He never fails to remind me of my strength when I feel down.

Here’s to my mom. Words cannot describe the extent of her love. I am proud to have inherited her passion, emotional dynamism and zest for life.

Here’s to my siblings, for enduring all of my [continually] weird phases, and having my back no matter what… even provinces apart.

Here’s to my grandparents, for spoiling me with food, stories and warm hugs.

Here’s to my best friends, for the dance parties, hysterical antics, and heart-to-hearts over bottles of wine.

Here’s to my brilliant, goofy boyfriend, who supports my wildest ambitions and loves me unconditionally.

Thank you all for making me who I am.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
I want to address all the female STARchitects out there… not the “Zaha” types per se, but the women who juggle stellar careers, raise families, and simultaneously make time for themselves. You are living evidence that we do not have to choose one or the other to accomplish great things. In my eyes, you are true heroines.

 

“my biggest life goal is to make a positive difference in the world.”

 

If you could pick one fictional character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. She is tiny, clever, and fiercely independent. AND she has her own sword. So badass.

What is your biggest life goal?
In the cheesiest sense, my biggest life goal is to make a positive difference in the world. I want to find what I am most passionate about, push it to the extreme and share it with others. I want to make a hefty dent in the development of my hometown, Winnipeg, Manitoba. I want to inspire at least one person who is experiencing self-doubt to realize their own strength. I want to share my life with loved ones. I want to travel the world and design spiritual spaces and places of healing. Lastly, when my time comes, I want to know that I lived my life to the fullest for the good of my community, without regret.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Graduating from my Bachelor of Environmental Design studies in architecture… or perhaps more importantly, recovering from 4 consecutive years without sleep, living out of the trunk of my mercury sable and the inevitable downward spirals from critique after critique.

I am proud of myself for taking time to work, for rediscovering favourite past times, moving to a new city and pursuing my masters degree. I am proud of myself for taking risks, maintaining important relationships, and forming new ones.

What is your favourite quote?

“What if?” – Jae Sung Chon

“Love wins. Love always wins.” – Morrie Schwartz

“Sometimes it’s the people no one expects anything from who do the things no one expects.” (The Imitation Game)

And because I am a Harry Potter fanatic:

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” – Albus Dumbledore

“Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.” – Alastor Moody

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Stay weird. Wear artsy hats and sweatpants. Dance your heart out. Do not waste your energy on those who do not respect you in return. Four years of braces will be worth it, I promise. Find inspiration in something small every day. Trust yourself and always push the limits.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is the destruction of the stigma that women are lesser, demanding equal opportunities and respect for all.

Breanna is a Habitat Visionary and Space Planner in Vancouver, Canada

Fierce Females: Breanna

Fierce Females: Alyson

Alyson

What is it that empowers you most?
Knowing that my time here is finite. This might scare most people, but personally knowing that I only get one shot at this crazy thing that we call “life” – one shot to experience as much as possible, to push myself to do things that I’d never imagined, to love deeply and fully, and to try to leave a positive impact – motivates me like nothing else.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my sense of humour. I’ve been told I’m pretty quick-witted, which is a compliment that I hold in the highest esteem. I just adore making people laugh, and there’s nothing quite like sharing a really good belly-laugh with your friends – especially if it’s over a joke you’ve made!

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Working out, especially lifting weights. In the past year I’ve started to really focus on my health and well-being, and going to the gym has become an important part of that routine. I’m not a power lifter or anything, but there’s something incredibly rewarding about being able to pick up really heavy things and put them down again!

Who is your biggest role model and why?
Carl Sagan. I re-watched the original “Cosmos” series again a few years ago on a lark and what stuck with me was Carl’s wonder, not just at the vast, impossible beauty and mystery of space, but of what we’ve accomplished throughout our history as a species. He always conveyed such a hope for what we could accomplish if we all just worked together and focused on the bigger picture, and that hope and reflection is something that I’ve tried to internalize and bring to my daily life. I’m endlessly inspired by his wonder and amazement at everything. His reading of “Pale Blue Dot” makes me cry every time I listen to it.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Eleanor Roosevelt, hands-down. That woman was fierce as hell and took a stand on a lot of touchy subjects like racial issues and women’s rights, even going as far as to publicly disagree with her husband on a number of occasions. Can you imagine the balls that would have taken? He was the President of the United States! Her Wikipedia is just a giant list of huge accomplishments, one right after the other, peppered with badass quotes about not getting pushed around or taking flak from people.

 

“I remember laying in my bed in my apartment and being unable to even get out from under the covers because everything felt so hopeless”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Amy Pond, from the Doctor Who series. She’s one of my favourite companions because she’s a really clever, resourceful, and complex character who packs a ton of sass. I was rather “meh” on the Doctor’s sidekicks until they introduced Amy, and she’s still my favourite. I’m also completely swept up by the idea of being able to travel across all of space and time and see the universe.

What is your biggest life goal?
Professionally speaking I’d like to eventually move to freelancing full-time, but personally (and more importantly) I want to learn to not be so hard on myself. My relationship with my parents, my mother especially, is extremely messy and left me with a lot of negative feelings about my personality, my abilities, my future, my relationships… you name it. I also carry around a tremendous amount of guilt about pretty much everything, and judge myself constantly for “not being good enough” for anything that I’m doing. Which I realize is silly because I’m doing it, but I struggle to turn off that negative little voice in my head, you know?

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Going to university. When I was 19 I literally walked into a really safe, secure government job. I was making almost 40k annually, I had amazing benefits, vacation time, and of course coveted job security. But I was utterly miserable. I remember laying in my bed in my apartment and being unable to even get out from under the covers because everything felt so hopeless; this was my life now and there was nothing else to look forward to or accomplish.

I decided to apply to the Rhetoric and Communications program at the University of Winnipeg, and when I announced my decision to my family they freaked out and my dad actually stopped speaking to me for several months. I was living on my own at the time and my parents refused to let me move home, so I moved in with a roommate and put myself through school, graduating in 2013.

It was incredibly difficult at times, but I made a decision and proved to myself that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I’m so happy that I took a chance on myself.

What is your favourite quote?
I have a few, which are:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” – Carl Sagan, “Contact”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
“Don’t give up, you’re stronger than you think.” I actually have this pasted on my mood board in-between photos of Jimmy Carter and Tom from Parks and Rec saying “Treat Yo Self.”

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is having the courage to initiate dialogues that challenge normative standards of beauty, class, sexuality, etc to effect positive change. It’s everyone working together, supporting each other towards a shared goal of equality, opportunity and respect.

Alyson is a Marketing Manager and freelance Content Marketer in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fierce Females: Alyson

Fierce Females: Carolyn

Carolyn

What is it that empowers you most?
It’s the inspiration of beautiful images, music and views.  It’s people doing beautiful, giving things all over the world and the companionship of people across nations and cultures.  We are all human, there are more similarities than differences and I find that quite inspirational.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
That’s a tough question. I find it easier to talk about what I don’t like (my toenails) and what I would like to improve (my memory and spoken language skills). I think maybe it’s that I like most people and generally find interesting and positive things in most people.

What makes you feel most beautiful? 
I like the feeling of being strong and energetic and healthy which I get when I stick to a regular exercise routine.  I was never a sporty child or teen and it was only in my mid 20’s that I really started to exercise.  It took me a long time to realize that while I didn’t like doing the exercise, that I liked how it made me feel afterwards and on a day-to-day basis.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I don’t know that I have a role model.  I don’t think I know anyone or have seen anyone who is doing and living the way I want to live (not that I’ve achieved nirvana yet, but I’m working towards it).

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why? 
All those women all over the world who live quiet lives, with no hope of escaping the drudgery and menial tasks that they need to do every day in order to support their families and in the hope of building a better future for their children.

“Just go for it.  Don’t be scared.”

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?  

One of those Bond girls, but not the ones that die and not Moneypenny.  One of those ones who gets the Bond – don’t care which one – they’re all worthy.

What is your biggest life goal? 
To establish and develop my own brand as a profitable and growing business.  I would like to effectively marry the creative side of my personality and the need for business discipline and success, to be able to independently look after myself, those I care about and those who deserve a break.

What is your biggest accomplishment? 
Completing my MBA.

What is your favourite quote?  
If you will forgive me – it’s not a quick quote.  I can’t think of a quick snappy quote – most of them sound like they are off the back of a bathroom calendar.  So….it’s poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley called “Ozymandius”.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I love it, because it puts everything in perspective.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be? 
Just go for it.  Don’t be scared.  Or if you are scared, just do it anyway.  Get out of school, but know that you will need to continue your education and learning for your whole life, dump the small-minded careers advice you (kind of) got and go for it doing what you are good at and what you love.  It is possible to make a living doing all sorts of fabulous jobs that don’t exist in your hometown.  There is a huge world out there full of wonderful people who can help.  Find your community by being positive and happy and let yourself enjoy thriving within it.

What does feminism mean to you?
It doesn’t mean man-hating.  It means freedom and not being blocked in your ambitions, achievements and sucking the marrow out of life.  Sometimes I even find it hard to realise when I am being blocked by others, because cultural and societal limitations that are placed on and around woman are so long-standing and can be quite insidious and sometimes they can seem quite well-meaning.  It’s good to hear the opinions of others, the comedy of Caitlin Moran (British comedian) and nothing replaces the wise council of close girlfriends!

Carolyn is a music blogger in Winnipeg, Canada
Connect with Carolyn: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Fierce Females: Carolyn

Fierce Females: Albertine

Albertine

What is it that empowers you most?
Knowledge. I’m lucky to live in a part of the world where I have access to an enormous amount of information and can afford to attend a post-secondary educational institution. I don’t take that privilege lightly. I feel there is an overwhelming importance in empowering ourselves by learning as much as we can about our world. By learning, we can better understand others and endeavor to help them by whatever means possible.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I appreciate my ability to empathize with others. The world tends to be a harsh place for even the toughest of us, and I think we could all use a little kindness now and then.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Being there for those who need me makes me feel beautiful.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
My parents share an equal space within my heart as my role models. When I was a teenager, I joked that I never wanted to be like my parents (I thought I was such a special snowflake). Now, I’ve realized I share the very qualities I seemed to despise back then and, shocker, I love it. As I grow older, my mother and father teach me humility by osmosis. They are incredibly strong, giving, and thoughtful people who rarely bother looking after themselves. The well-being of their family, friends, and environment is their top priority. Self importance never comes into play. That’s very inspiring. I feel that I have a lot to learn from them.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Last year I learned about the amazing women who worked in Bletchley Park during the Second World War to crack codes transmitted by the Axis powers. It is believed that their service shortened the war by two to four years. In an era where women were often seen as second-class citizens solely allowed to rear children and manage a home, these women used their incredible skills to aid their country. That is very impressive to me and very inspiring.

 

“This has been my career goal for as long as I can recall”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
I think I would go with Emmy Altava, a character in the Professor Layton series of games. She starts out as the detective’s assistant, helping him solve puzzles and taking photographs of their adventure. I think it would be fun to solve mysteries and crimes in her shoes and get a better sense of her individual story.

What is your biggest life goal?
To always be learning.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I feel equally proud and grateful to be working in the video game industry. This has been my career goal for as long as I can recall, and this made me the subject of a great deal of bullying in my younger years. The insults that came my way only spurred me to work harder. At 25, I’ve managed to enter the industry and I’m enjoying it very much. I look forward to setting new, larger goals as I grow older.

What is your favourite quote?
“If you can love someone with your whole heart, even one person, then there’s salvation in life.” – Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Keep being a big nerd and read as much as you can. Go to the library and read every book and never apologize for your curiosity and thirst to learn. Be gentle with yourself and others. You don’t have to be brash; you can be quietly powerful if you want to be.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is compassion toward every person and their right to unapologetically be who they are or want to be without fear of violence, discrimination, and the systematic withdrawal of opportunity and fairness.

Albertine is a social media and public relations strategist in Winnipeg, Canada.
Connect with Albertine: Twitter

Fierce Females: Albertine

Fierce Females: Amie

Amie

What is it that empowers you most?
I think what empowers me the most is my belief that I can do anything in the world. I’m very thankful that I live in a country that allows for freedom and independent thought. I can dream up a million dreams, lay out a plan, and go after it. Not a lot of people have those opportunities or believe they do. I’ve been really thankful to have also been raised to think “If you believe it, you can do it!” stuff most millennials are fed, but my dad always reminds me that it doesn’t happen overnight. If you want something it takes hard work and patience, which is something that has become my mantra.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my idealism, my creativity, and my passion the most. All three have some sort of downfall as well, like my idealism sometimes leads to strong feelings of disappointment, or I’m so passionate that it makes me terribly emotional. Overall though, I view these traits as something that makes me who I am, and I try to channel them into everything I do. I believe in the good in everything and everybody, so I’m usually positive going into every situation and dream really big dreams. I also love imagining new ideas and then I get really, really jazzed up about it. Oh, and I also LOVE connecting with people!

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Being active makes me feel beautiful. I probably don’t look very attractive while running a half marathon, but that’s the most beautiful I’ve ever felt. For example, I feel super beautiful in a hot yoga class and I look in the mirror and I just feel strong.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I have some really awesome female mentors out there. Whether they’re teachers, bosses, or people I’ve worked with. I’ve been very fortunate to have met and connected with some smart and awesome women. I think building relationships with other women who have come before you (or on the journey with you), and looking up to them (and telling them that!) is super important. So I guess I don’t have one role model, I have a bunch that I deeply value.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Oprah. I have a framed picture of her at my desk in an all white suite looking all badass, and it just reminds me of our cultural meritocracy and my millennial believe that “if you can dream it you can do it!”

On a side note, I don’t think we have enough cultural heroines because this took me a longer time than I’m comfortable with to answer this question.

 

“I feel super beautiful in a hot yoga class and I look in the mirror and I just feel strong.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
I’d be Carmen Sandiego, so that I could travel the world literally in a day.

What is your biggest life goal?
My biggest life goal is to enjoy the moment. I’m constantly thinking ahead or worrying about the future, and I have to take a step back and be in the present. Even if it takes a lifetime of practice, I want to appreciate every moment for what it is and find happiness wherever I am.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Can I say it’s a bunch of small ‘winning’ moments? Like the time I got the job or finished school are great, but they often lead to other small opportunities that are just as fulfilling. Sometimes it’s just getting up everyday and finding courage to do my best no matter what that is my biggest accomplishment.

What is your favourite quote?
This week it’s: “Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”
Ayn Rand

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
That it’s going to be okay. I still tell myself that everyday.

What does feminism mean to you?
I was listening to Sheryl Sanberg’s Lean In while driving back to Calgary for the zillionth time with my dad. There was a part in the book that specifically talked about how women often feel inadequate, and my dad stopped the recording and said he’s encountered those exact same sentiments throughout his life. In that moment I realized that feminism isn’t just about the equality of women, but it’s about us all working together to bring out the best in each other regardless of gender, race, or background. We should all work to encourage each other and judge less – we all have talents and deserve the right to share them with each other.

Amie is an account coordinator in Winnipeg, Canada.

Fierce Females: Amie

Fierce Females: Brittany

Brittany

What empowers you the most?
The knowledge that I can do anything I set my mind to. This whole #FierceFemales project was born out of my own personal pain. The intentions of the project might have been slightly selfish in the sense that I wanted to read the accomplishments, heroes and strengths of others to hopefully help heal myself.

#FierceFemales came to me one day and I just started sending out the questions and the response I got was incredible. Once I had encouragement from the first few women I began sending to musicians, artists and authors both local and international (because, what’s the worst that could happen?) and I got few up and coming artists, a CCMA nominee and I’m still working on getting some authors but I became even more encouraged then I just sat back one day and was like, “shit, I’ve done something big here.”

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Being with my family. I have a big family yet when we are all together they never fail to make me feel special, wanted and beautiful. I am so grateful for how close I am with my family.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
My grandparents without question. I want my grandparents to know that while maybe they haven’t graduated high school or even elementary school that they are the smartest, kindest and most selfless people I know.

My grandparents had to drop out of school at various points so they could help support their families and that hindered them later off in life as they had to take lesser paying jobs to support their own children.

Don’t get me wrong my Nanny always goes on about how much she enjoyed her puffed wheat factory days (where her and my Papas first locked eyes) and she worked there for around 40 years.

My grandparents worked their asses off to give my parents everything they could and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their sacrifices. That is something I will always keep close to my heart.

My parents for showing me the incredible love that they do everyday and for giving me opportunities that they never had. I also thank them for showing me what true love really is, their love for eachother is unconditional and I am so lucky to see evidence of that every day.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Several years back I became obsessed with the 50s and 60s, especially two of the most popular ladies of that era Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

Audrey Hepburn I respect for her extremely kind heart. She did so much humanitarian work with Unicef and she travelled a lot to third world countries to help and to see first hand what it was like. I respect that so much because those are some of my own goals in life and I think that more people should help out if they can.

Now Marilyn Monroe is a big role model for me because she was unapologetically herself. My respect for her grew after I read her autobiography. So many people have a skewed vision of her. Truth is she lived a fucked up life and people are so quick to judge. But I admire her for persevering as long as she did none of us will know what was going through her mind the night she died. I choose to believe she was an otherwise strong woman who had a very weak moment and I have so much respect for someone that lives day to day living with a pain that most of us can’t even comprehend.

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Lisabeth Salander hands DOWN! She is really the first bad ass bitch I came across in literature. She is she knows what she wants, she is smart and she doesn’t take anyones shit.

“I want to write a book maybe a novel or maybe it’s just a compilation of my words and quotes.”

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I hope that my biggest accomplishment is yet to come but my biggest accomplishment to date would have to be beginning to establish myself as a freelancer. I really only recently got down and dirty with the whole “owning my own business” thing. I began to take it more seriously and this summer I was presented with more opportunities than ever before and it’s been pretty crazy but also amazing.

What is your favourite quote?
Well, I am a quote person so I have many! For starters I will share one that has stuck with me for many years…

“To rise out of mediocrity you must not be afraid to fail.” – Unknown

It has really shaped how I live my life. Every person has something special to give the world and where would we be if everyone were afraid of failure.

“She turned her can’ts into cans, and her dreams into plans.” – Kobi Yamada

I had this tattooed on my arm after a pretty big change in my life. I got the tattoo to keep reminding myself to make plans and follow through on them and to at least try when I doubt myself.

“Do not be so heavenly bound that you are no earthly good.” – Kaye May

I found this quote on a piece of paper in my grandmothers things after she passed away and I am convinced she is the author because I have Googled it and found nothing. My grandmother was a very religious woman and I think this quote illustrates what a kind heart she had. I think there are quite a few self righteous people (none that I know personally) that hide behind the bible and are so focused on making it “upstairs” one day that they forget to look around and actually get involved and try to make a difference on the only Earth we’ll ever know.

What is your biggest life goal?
To be my own boss. I want to have my own freelance communications business and I have started to take steps in that direction but I realize I need much more experience before getting to where I want to be, I mean I’m only 24.

I want to write a book maybe a novel or maybe it’s just a compilation of my words and quotes. I LOVE words but I didn’t always, I didn’t even like reading and now to most of my friends I am the biggest bookworm they know. But it would be amazing to have something published with my name on the cover.

If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing what would it be?
I would tell her that “things will get better”. 12-year-old Brittany had it pretty rough and looking back I am so proud of her. No matter what happened she remained true to herself and that’s all I can ask.

What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism is women empowering other women, we have enough people in the world telling us what we can and can’t be and it takes a strong woman to tell another woman “you can”.

Feminism is also not about belittling the other gender. I once heard someone say “to be equal is not to be superior”, I think some people (myself once included) mistake feminism for putting down the male gender and that isn’t the goal of feminism. The goal is to stand equally beside a man in any and all situations.

Brittany is a blogger and social media coordinator in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Connect with Brittany:  Twitter | Instagram

Fierce Females: Brittany

Fierce Females: Daniella

Daniella

What is it that empowers you most?
Knowing I have the choice to live life fully. Regardless of whatever external factors contribute to a circumstance, I have the ability to choose how I think and act in this world. It doesn’t mean climbing a mountain each day, or being happy all the time; simply showing up and being present makes me a more conscious member of society. Understanding that I choose to seize opportunities and learn from challenges empowers me to dream big and live larger.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my relentless desire to communicate! Those who know me, know I love long, rich conversations about anything and everything. I love this about me because it’s a free way to live a better, fuller life, and an exercise in living in the present. It isn’t just something I enjoy, it’s something I need to sustain my soul: connecting with people, hearing how they experience life, and discussing ideas. It sounds so studious when I write it down, but we actually share ideas (the good, the bad and otherwise). What a marvelous gift I get to give and receive again and again!

What makes you feel most beautiful?
When I unleash a loud hearty laugh – with friends or by myself! It’s a moment where nothing else matters except this outburst of unbelievable joy. I love my smile – i love to smile – so naturally, this is me at my most beautiful. My laugh lines will be well-earned and appreciated.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I left this question for last because naming one person is a challenge; I’ve been raised by a village when I think of the teachers, mentors and leaders who have shaped my life. But someone I can always look to as an example of a life fully lived is Nelson Mandela. I grew up in South Africa under his leadership, but only now appreciate his lessons. Mandela knew patience, understood the power of education and never gave up on his dream. He changed the world, this one person, and has a legacy that continues the conversation of equality.

“it’s something I need to sustain my soul: connecting with people, hearing how they experience life, and discussing ideas.”

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Right now, there are two women whose stories I carry with me as I face a new transition professionally and personally: Oprah Winfrey and Robin Roberts. Both are cultural heroines because they decided to take up space in this world and empower others to do the same. Both are grateful in the midst of great success, and neither has lost sight of who she is and where she came from. To be a true heroine means overcoming obstacles (where do I begin with these ladies!), but more than that it’s understanding the responsibility that comes with the title. They continue to share their wisdom with others, and act as living reminders that life is yours to live. And they just so happen to be pretty fierce females.

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Since I recently visited Harry Potter World, I choose Hermoine Granger. She craves knowledge (to the annoyance of some), and is she’s always down to try something new. Even if it’s terrifying. Flying around Hogwarts, making potions and trying out some advanced spells –  yeah, Hermoine Granger is awesome.

What is your biggest life goal?
To somehow, in a small or profound way, make a positive difference for those who follow. The next generation is an incredible marvel: human beings can create change knowing others will live a better life.  I want to contribute to that.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
In my short life so far, I believe my biggest accomplishment has been trusting myself. Sounds simple, but trusting yourself means knowing your worth and believing you can do great things – even when others don’t. It doesn’t exempt mistakes, it takes ownership and develops wisdom. It took some time for me to trust myself, but it’s been a valuable practice both professionally and personally.

What is (one) of your favourite quote(s)?
“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams” – Oprah Winfrey.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
I would tell her gently  (I remember 12-year-old me) that mistakes are your greatest ally in this journey of life : make them, learn, live and love. With that, don’t forget to be your own friend; stop being so hard on yourself and accept all challenges with gratitude. (I know she’ll have a hard time with that last one, but I believe in her.)

What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism means actively striving to create a society of equal opportunity. Doing so positively to build up young women and men for a life of equality. Taking a stand against myths and misguided perceptions that perpetuate inequality.  It can be challenging work, but everyone is capable of practicing feminism in small or profound ways.

Daniella is a video journalist in Winnipeg, Canada.
Connect with Daniella: Twitter

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