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It’s Messy: Gwyneth Interviews Amanda de Cadenet

GP sat down with friend, entrepreneur, photographer, and now author, Amanda de Cadenet, to talk about her new book, It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women. Intimate and revealing, It’s Messy reads as part confessional memoir, part raw essay collection on the challenges—and power—of being a girl and woman in the world today. It traverses de Cadenet’s past, from the ups and downs of her childhood and adolescence—including the period she spent as a teen runaway, her experiences in abusive relationships, and what it was like to become a mom at the age of nineteen—as she makes sense of the person she’s become. You can sit in on GP and de Cadenet’s conversation below, filmed at goop HQ.

We’re also sharing de Cadenet’s answers to a few of our follow-up q’s on the themes that stuck with us—i.e., the fear of women with choices; the upside of taking risks—and even failing when you do; and the emotional art of creating space for others to open up and have honest conversations with one another. (De Cadenet has interviewed many big-time women herself as part of the candid series, The Conversation.) Last, de Cadenet dishes on the rising female artists we should all be looking out for—featured by her noteworthy organization Girlgaze (which you can learn more about in this goop Q&A) and see spotlighted in the gorgeous #girlgaze book (also out this fall).

GP wears the goop Label Ashley Silk Tie Blouse, goop, $395; Whisper Mobile Single O Earrings, goop, $878

A Q&A with Amanda de Cadenet

Q

One of the lines from It’s Messy that stands out is: “A woman with choices is a woman with power.” Why do you say this makes some people nervous?

A

For many years, money was often a man’s calling card. But the more women have earned their own money, the more men have had to bring to the table, and the more women who are choosing partners based on a different set of criteria—like compatibility, desire, common interests, emotional support, and so on—as opposed to that primary, very real need to have the bills paid.

If you have financial autonomy then you automatically have more agency over your life, and that in turn gives you more choices and ultimately more freedom. With this new dynamic, there has been a power shift and that inevitably causes discomfort with any group who feels like they are losing power.

Q

One of your overarching themes seems to be having the courage to take risks—and also to fail. How do you stick to this?

A

It’s not easy and of course it’s messy. You have to be okay with failing and knowing that it’s not a bad thing. Sometimes I go through periods when I don’t want to try at something again. But failing and learning from my choices continues to guide my next moves.

Q

The book draws from challenging moments from your childhood. Was there anything that came up from your past that surprised or changed you?

A

For sure, things came up. As I wrote, I found myself eventually letting go of any residual resentment I was still holding towards my parents. I gained some compassion for myself along the way, too.

Q

You’ve conducted some incredible interviews over the years. How do you create an environment in which people are comfortable opening up to you?

A

Intention is everything. People can sense why you are there, what your objective is, and even unspoken messages can be discerned. I am only there to provide a safe place for women to share their story. I often share pieces of my own my story as a way to let my subject know that it’s okay to be vulnerable and honest while sitting on my couch being interviewed!

Q

Can you catch us up on the latest with your media organization, Girlgaze, and any rising female artists we should be looking out for?

A

Girlgaze is a media company that was created to highlight and support the work and careers of young female-identifying photographers, directors, and creatives. We are: a digital platform that creates original content, an agency that connects our community to brands, and an organization that curates exhibitions and puts on events, as well as a charity that provides grants. We are working to create tangible job opportunities for our community of girls, and to provide a work environment that celebrates their unique creative perspective.

I know how difficult it is being a female photographer and how often girls are looked over in journalism photography. I was extremely frustrated myself as an up-and-coming photographer. So I decided to do something about it. With a group of artists, we started a movement at Girlgaze to use our voices to highlight the next generation of female talent. We have 2.8 million image submissions on Instagram to date, from girls around the globe, many of which are included in our #girlgaze book, launching early October from Rizzoli. The book is filled with images from our community, and is an indication of the incredible talent that is out there that we have connected with. Some of my favorite photographers you’ll find in the book are Bree Holt, Flora Negri, Heather Hazzan, Luisa Dörr…all of them are so different yet so beautiful. Their work should not be missed.

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