Meet the her words team - Emma Roberts

The work we do at her words would not be possible without an amazing team of collaborators. Every month we will be introducing you to one of our superstar team members, and who better to begin with than producer and all-round incredible human Emma Roberts! Emma has been here from the start and has been instrumental in growing her words into what it is today. She's one of those incredibly empathetic souls who is uber talented, always has tea and snacks on hand, and a neverending supply of witty comebacks for anything the patriarchy will throw at you.

We had a chat about feminism, VR and the colour pink. 

Emma Roberts.jpg

Name: Emma Roberts

Star sign: Nah

Currently eating: Gingerbread! Christmas in July, baby

Currently listening to: Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds (HA) and the podcast See Something Say Something

Currently watching/reading: Reading ‘Flights’ by Olga Tokarczuk – a perfect crystallisation of wanderlust, I am a little bit in love.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Normally I’d start this with what I do for work, but seeing as that’s a) boring and b) another question further down the page, here is my attempt at the remainder:

I’m a recovering workaholic and a lapsed archaeologist! I’m pretty good at cooking but pretty terrible at baking. I collect little treasures from nature and hang them around my room. My favourite tree is (currently) a baobab.

Most of all, though, I love Masterchef. I don’t have a Masterchef buddy to watch with so all my Masterchef-related feelings just end up shouted into the ether.

What has been your role at her words? How would you describe what you do?

I came on board very early on as producer, which is a fancy way of saying I ask lots of people to do lots of favours for us. Usually they say yes, which is lovely! A lot of my time is dedicated to yelling at Adobe Premiere and waiting for things to upload. Also I make spreadsheets and boss people around.

What other work do you do? How can people find out more about you and follow your work/talents?

Outside of her words, I make ads at Truce Films and produce multi-sensory virtual reality. Last year was mainly dedicated to STARLESS, a near-death out of body experience which was Australia’s first large-scale location-based VR work. Nowadays I’m focused on Petrichor, an immersive VR installation that places audiences in the path of a phenomenal storm. It’s being created in partnership with the Australian Climate Council with assistance from Greenpeace, and will come out in 2019.

Side note, if there are any women or non-binary people out there who want to try their hand at VR, you should definitely give it a burl! I had no experience in VR prior to working in the space, but the community is incredibly generous with their knowledge and it makes it easy to learn. There’s some really incredible work made by women and non-binary people starting to get made, and we need more!

Why do you believe it’s important to share women’s stories? What does her words mean to you?

When we first started her words we spoke about the importance of finding ‘me too’ moments. This was long before #metoo took off in mainstream media, and I think it’s important to recognise that the phrase has similarly palpable power for women and minorities outside of the context of sexual assault and harassment. We can say ‘me too’ about feeling unsafe at night, or miscarriage, or an uncomfortable exchange on public transport, or self-confidence, or being body shamed. These conversations are intimate and important; they transcend background to create commonalities, and they help us to learn about ourselves. All it takes is one person to open up and share their experience, and we hope that her words makes those conversations a little more accessible.

Working on her words is always so refreshing and makes me feel empowered and excited about the state of the world. I’ve been able to meet and listen to so many different women and non-binary people, learning from them and learning about myself from them. We have a fantastic and generous crew, and we come to set and have really honest conversations with each other about our experiences and perspectives. It’s a real and honest privilege working on it.

What does feminism mean to you? Is it something you’ve always felt aligned with or did you identify with it later in life?

I’m going to fall back on the old ‘social, political and economic equality of the sexes’ chestnut here, but add in a caveat that feminism should be taking into account the different intersections of privilege that can play into that. We should be actively listening and looking for voices outside of our realm of experience, and making space for those voices to be heard.

I definitely came into feminism pretty late. I don’t remember anyone really speaking about it when I was younger, and I distinctly remember using the word ‘feminist’ as an insult when I was about 20. But the friend I was speaking to corrected me on what feminism actually meant, and I’ve been learning about what it means and how to be a feminist ever since.

Who are some of the women who’ve inspired you along the way?

Goodness so many. I am definitely very obsessed with our interview with Simona Castricum on Body Image – I love what she has to say about permission. Mostly I’m inspired by the women around me though. Wow, look at all of you! You’ve made it this far! I am in awe.

What do you struggle with most as a woman?

I actually think the thing I struggle with the most is shame around womanhood. I was raised in an environment that bred toughness as a survival mode, and I formed this idea that to be stereotypically feminine was, for all intents and purposes, weakness. I cut myself off from the feminine, despite identifying with a lot of it. For me, it was and remains an ongoing cycle of self-policing driven by a larger societal message of shame, and it’s a really hard thing to unlearn.

I’m trying to open myself up now to these feminine-coded ideals, whether the big (vulnerability and showing emotion), or the small (wearing pink). But that also involves balancing my selfhood with that unlearning, parsing out what is Me and what is the product of patriarchy. I’m trying to practice recognising strength in softness and sharing parts of myself that have previously been just for me.

I should probably shout out to our theme on Vulnerability here – I especially love the interview with Bethany Robinson if you haven’t seen it.

Pink is literally just a colour and it cannot hurt me and yet WHY AM I SO AFRAID OF IT.

What are you most proud of?

I think I’m most proud of being compassionate and empathetic. There’s a reasonable amount of stuff that’s happened in my life that I think could have made me into a perpetual crank, but I’ve come away from it with new pathways to understand and help other people. I love sharing with people: making others happy makes me happy. I think that’s beautiful.

Also I’m proud of being very curious about the world and the way things work. That’s beautiful too.

What’s one thing you believe each person could do to contribute to greater equality in Australia and beyond?

Listen.

What are you looking forward to right now?

Having a nap, tbh.

Domini Marshall