Who’s That Girl? In conversation with Ore Ogunbiyi

In an interview with Abigail Smith, Girl Talk speaks to Ore Ogunbiyi, president of ACS, about her new podcast Lightbulb Moments, about speaking up as a black woman in Cambridge, and about creating that perfect insta.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Ore Ogunbiyi, I am a final year HSPS Student at Jesus. I’m also president of the African Caribbean Society (ACS), which is my baby, my pride and joy. I’m really into everything African politics and everything race politics.

You’ve recently launched your new podcast, Lightbulb moments — why did you start it?

I find that especially in Cambridge, but elsewhere too, I have lots of incredible, abstract conversations. And I always come to the end of these conversations and my mind’s boggling, and I want everyone to hear that, and everyone to have that feeling of being mind-blown. I thought about how I was going to bring people into these conversations, how am I going to share something I love. These conversations are too important for them to die the second I have them.

 

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Lightbulb Moments: Conversations Millenials Should Be Having

Did you have any worries when you started the podcasts?

I had quite a few! I was concerned I would run out of content, so I made myself a list of 30 topics before I started. But I was also concerned that just because these are topics I’m interested in, what’s that to say that other people will be interested. But I realised that the fact I’m having these conversations means there’s always at least someone out there who’s going to want to listen.

I was also concerned that my topics would be very skewed to things just concerning my identity; about me being black, about me being Nigerian, about me being a woman. But for me, overcoming that was realising that that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of people who won’t have an insight into what my life is like as a black, Nigerian woman, who is living in the UK but also living in Nigeria. When I recently wrote my article about being black in Cambridge, a lot of people who hadn’t had that experience were still interested in it.

I was going to ask you about this! Your article went viral: what was that like? Were there any downsides?

100%. When you’re at somewhere like Cambridge, and you’re a black woman who tries to put themselves out there and engage in activism, you become hyper-visible. I remember coming back to college this term, and wondering if people were looking at me weirdly because now they know that I’m the person who wrote that article about the challenges of my experience. You can’t hide or blend into the background when you’re a black woman here. But then, I reached a point where I realised I didn’t care about what people thought of me: that’s their problem and not mine.

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The Varsity article which went viral

Why is it so important for women, and particularly black women, to have a platform in Cambridge?

It’s so important: especially being Nigerian sometimes it can be seen as ‘Why are you standing up and talking about this? Why are you being so loud? Why are you so angry for?’ But recognising that your opinions are valid; that people care about what you have to say. There might be people waiting for you to say something, people who rely on you speaking up about something. It’s important because there are a lot of other black girls out there who will see people like you speaking up, and you can encourage them. Also, it’s important to purposefully go against the grain, against people who want us to be quiet. If we don’t speak up who will?

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Ore speaking at the ACS Access Conference last year

Are there any issues you wouldn’t want to discuss on your podcast?

Pretty much anything is on the table, because I want to get the conversations going. I did say right in my introduction that I’m not working with any racists, any sexists — I just don’t see the need for it. However sometimes, there are people that have opposing views that I do try and bring up, and explain why I do not agree with them, or why that kind of view is not welcome in this space. But I think anything can be political, and anything can be relevant: we need to step away from this ‘its not that deep’ culture.

Who is your podcast aimed at?

So its full title is ‘Lightbulb Moments — Conversations Millennials should be having’, so I do tend the conversations towards millennials. We try to keep it accessible and relaxed in its approach, but also I try and talk about things that are relevant to our futures, and how we think about our futures. I have a lot more hope in young people; we’re still at a very formative stage, I have a lot of hope in how we can change. That’s also why I have a lot of different guests because everyone’s different experience of a topic is relevant. But also, my mum absolutely loves it and keeps telling all her friends about what she’s learning, which is really cute. So although it’s aimed at young people, it really is for anyone.

Speaking of guests, who would your absolute dream guest be?

The Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo. I’m giving myself two years and by then I have to make it happen. He is one of my favourite people in terms of how we share very similar views in terms of what Nigeria’s future could look like. He’s incredibly clever; he’s not giving up on Nigeria, and he’s one of the people who give me hope about Nigeria. When I was a child he was also a pastor at my church, so I also look up to him spiritually.

Which podcast are you most proud of so far, and which are you most excited still to do?

The one I’m most proud of so far is my most popular one, on Patriarchy and Capitalism. I had a lot of people message me about that episode just because they had not thought about the extent to which patriarchy is embedded in capitalism. Also because my guest was someone who I had contributed to his journey to becoming a feminist, and he acknowledges he’s still learning.

I’m most looking forward to the one I’m actually recording next weekend, which is on corruption. It’s something I’m really passionate about. I went to an Africa summit at LSE and learnt a lot about the way we conceptualise corruption and the way we use it to cripple how we view African countries. Without giving too much away, I think it’s really problematic the way that we see corruption as being endemic in some countries, while in other countries we’ll call it something different. We need to get rid of these tropes that some countries are just destined to be corrupt forever when that’s a lie.

Speaking of the future, what is your plan for yourself?

So I have a little summer job with the BBC, which is exciting, and hopefully, a media outlet will just keep me, because then what if Lightbulb Moments ended up on the radio? That would be incredible. I’ve also applied to do a masters in journalism in New York, which I would really like because broadcast journalism is something I’m really interested in. Just some kind of platform where I could talk about politics, and these kinds of topics. It’s all about deconstructing false narratives and changing the narratives for some of the world’s most oppressed people, who just don’t tend to have a fair say in popular discourse.

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The kind of magic you can expect on Ore’s instagram

A final question for our readers: your Instagram is amazing. Can you share your wisdom on creating the perfect insta?

So I kind of get a cheat on the follower count, because I have my uni friends, my friends in Nigeria, my friends from school in England, so I’m kind of living this triple life. In terms of the perfect shot, I would say:
–  Lighting
–  Don’t overdo the hashtags
– Peak times — Sunday afternoon is very underrated, everyone’s hungover from Saturday night.
That’s the secret recipe.

Lightbulb Moments is available for free download here, and the next episode will be available this Saturday. Applications for the ACS committee open soon!

Grad Talk: Framing the Future with Izzy Kent

Izzy Kent graduated last year, having studied History of Art at Trinity, and has already found herself in her ‘dream’ role at the Wallace Collection. Her job varies hugely, from giving last-minute lectures to working in the conservation of the museum’s collection. Here she talks about applying for positions you don’t think you’ll get, the surprising things you learn on the job and the joy of turning the lights on. 

Interview by Xanthe Fuller

So, what do you do now? 

I’ve just started as the ‘Enriqueta Harris Frankfort curatorial assistant’ at the Wallace Collection. The Wallace Collection is a national museum in the heart of London. It’s relatively small but is up there with the heavy weights (National Gallery, British Museum etc.) in terms of quality. My job is a new position funded by the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispanica. As this suggests I specialize in the Spanish art at the museum including some sublime paintings by Velazquez, Alonzo Cano and Murillo.

How did you get there?

There’s a short answer and a long answer to this:

The short of it is I saw the job advert during my revision for finals and decided to apply. I really didn’t expect to get it as they wanted someone with a MA and fluent Spanish but it was such a dream position I thought I might as well. Then I went for interview and a couple of days later received a phone call saying I’d got the job.

The longer answer is a little more sentimental. I am incredibly lucky to have something that I am really passionate about, which is art and culture. There was never a moment, a lecture, book or exhibition where it all clicked and I knew it was what I wanted to do; I just can’t remember a time when I didn’t love it. So really, I’ve just been following my nose and trying to learn as much as I can wherever I can. I’ve done a lot of internships in different areas of the arts so by the time it came to applying for this job I was ready and knew, to an extent, what to expect.

Describe a typical day.

It sounds cliché but there isn’t really a typical day. It’s a small number of people looking after a large collection so I end up doing all sorts of jobs. I generally start off the day by doing a ‘gallery check’, going round all the rooms in the museum and checking that nothing is damaged. I’m usually the first one in each morning, which means I turn on all the lights to reveal the amazing art works – it may seem mundane but honestly it never gets old! After that it really depends. Currently I’m doing a lot with the conservation department, deciding which pictures need treatment and organising a major conference on Murillo happening in May, and giving tours and lectures. I’m also rewriting the gallery books (basically object labels), making audio guide recordings and researching our Spanish paintings.

 

What do you like about it? 

I love the diversity of the work. I’ll be handling a 400-year-old Mughal dagger one day, and researching a Velazquez painting the next, or visiting a conservator and seeing our paintings under the microscope. My colleagues have also been so supportive, teaching me about their areas of expertise and what it takes to look after the collection. Continue reading Grad Talk: Framing the Future with Izzy Kent

Who’s that girl? In conversation with Tamara Hill-Norton, founder of Sweaty Betty

Tamara Hill-Norton is the founder of the women’s sports brand, Sweaty BettyIt’s the ultimate active-wear brand, battling against Nike, Adidas and Puma. But Sweaty Betty is different: founded in 1998, the focus has always been on women’s activewear, rather than it being a twenty-first century after-thought. Since its launch it has gone from strength to strength, winning countless awards (one for healthiest employees!) and opening shops on both sides of the Atlantic. Here Tamara talks about the empowering effect of exercise, the endorphin-filled day-to-day of a CEO, and why she went for the name Sweaty Betty.

Interview by Xanthe Fuller 

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. First things first: how are you?

I’m really well, thank you!

To start a business is always a courageous move, but a brand exclusively for women’s activewear, that’s bold. What’s the story and how did you get there? 

I started Sweaty Betty in 1998 after spotting a gap in the women’s activewear market. At the time I was working as a buyer for Knickerbox. We started to do a little bit of sportswear, and I discovered some amazing female sportswear brands, which you couldn’t find anything like on the high street. Activewear for women was very bleak and dark at the time, there were just big, male-oriented sportswear stores. So, then, I thought, ‘Right, this is a proper gap in the market.’ After being made redundant. I took the opportunity to evolve the concept to create beautiful clothes for women who live active lifestyles.

How important is it for you that it’s a brand for women? And why? 

Incredibly important, we aim to empower women through fitness and beyond and achieving this is definitely the most rewarding aspect of my job. I love that we help women find their confidence and that we support them in their journey to becoming fitter and stronger.

Continue reading Who’s that girl? In conversation with Tamara Hill-Norton, founder of Sweaty Betty

In conversation with Caitlyn Jenner: ‘I like being on this team’

Interview by Kitty Grady and Alina Khakoo

Awaiting our interview with the world’s most famous trans woman, Olympian, reality TV star and outspoken Republican, we concur that Caitlyn Jenner is a contradictory and divisive figure. When we first catch sight of her at the Cambridge Union Society, wrapped in a Tom Ford bodycon dress and strategically lit by a photographer’s floor lamp, she fuels our cynicism. Perhaps sensing our apprehension, she ushers us into armchairs, pulling our voice recorder towards her before sharing her experience of transitioning. She makes us feel at ease, inspiring an unexpected sense of camaraderie as we collectively nod and high-five. In her own words, Jenner is happy to be ‘on this team’, and on this matter we find it easy to agree.

We’ve read that you consider yourself to be a spokesperson for women’s and LGBT+ rights. How did living sixty-five years under the name of Bruce inform this?

I have lived a very interesting life. Not many people can say they’re a men’s Olympic decathlon champion and Glamour’s Woman of the Year. I’ve seen the world from both sides.

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Jenner winning the gold medal for men’s decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Photo credit: Instagram @caitlynjenner, http://bit.ly/2hRxaSo.

You have a very unique perspective.

I think women are generally brought up differently to men. They are brought up as the so-called ‘weaker sex’, physically and emotionally, told to be in the background rather than out in front, and I think that’s engrained in them at a very young age. It’s very difficult for them to get away from that. My journey into womanhood was very different, so I see the world very differently. I don’t think women realise the amount of power they should have in all areas of society. I want to encourage them to stand up for themselves.

Continue reading In conversation with Caitlyn Jenner: ‘I like being on this team’

Who’s that girl? In conversation with Stephanie Childress

In an interview with Alina Khakoo, co-founder of Girl Talk, Stephanie Childress talks about her abandoned ice-skating career, being at one with her (bloody old) violin and working out her next move. Stephanie is a third-year music student at John’s and President of the St John’s Music Society. She plays the violin and has a passion for conducting. Having participated in countless concerts and competitions, including BBC’s Young Musician, she plays an active part in the Cambridge music scene. On Friday 27th October, she is conducting Beethoven 9 in St John’s College Chapel.

How old are you?

18.

Are people funny about your age?

Yeah definitely, I think when they first speak to me they don’t really notice. When I first came here I thought no one was going to know, but then somehow people did, and it affects them in different ways. It comes up in conversation a lot, but I don’t have any issues with it. I jumped a class in primary school and then I dropped out of school when I was 15 to do my A-Levels in a year, so that meant that I’ve just ended up being a bit younger than everybody else. I was in a French system, and it’s quite normal to have people jump classes or redo a year there, certainly more common than in England. But ending up here after dropping out was probably what surprised people most.

Continue reading Who’s that girl? In conversation with Stephanie Childress