Goodness, this is exciting! The one and only, Ella Hooper, musician, radio host and all round superstar, is joining Victorian Women’s Trust. She will also be speaking at #Breakthrough2016. We are over the moon about her appointment. Welcome to the team, Ella!
We had the happy task of interviewing Ella about her work, gender equality, and what this new role means to her.
You’ve had a illustrious and varied career in the music industry from your work as the lead singer of Killing Heidi to MC gigs, regular radio and TV spots. In that time have you noticed any changes to peoples’ perception of women in music?
Ella Hooper (EH): It seems to fluctuate. When I entered the scene it was incredibly light on in terms of there being women around, in rock and roll anyway. There were always a few more in the media world, but in the music industry there was a real and shocking division. I couldn’t believe how male dominated record company’s were, with women in PR and supporting roles only, never in charge — coffee getters, car drivers.
Though cutting to now HUGE advances have been made. I see so many strong women in positions of power. I don’t know if there’s any women heading up the major labels still, but there’s a real vibrant visible community of women. It’s being called out and addressed via industry initiatives and trailblazing individuals. There’s still a way to go, but I think young female artists entering the industry would be greeted by a far more gender balanced and wholesome beast, than I was.
As the Victorian Women’s Trust newest board member, what drew you to the role? What excites you about this new phase?
EH: It was an honour to be considered for this role. I’m a proud life long feminist, I’ve always flown the flag and worked in my own way to represent and communicate my ideals. I’ve always been drawn to being a mouthpiece for other women, or anyone feeling underrepresented or unheard. My job in high school, then later on in my music, for example was to champion misfits, as I somehow have the benefit of being able to move between worlds. Talking to the ‘sporties’ as easily as the ‘goths’, ‘plastics’, hippies or ‘nerds’ (I’m aware those terms are all limiting and outdated, but, high school speak!).
I love bringing people together. I have a healthy disdain for preaching to the choir and feel it’s far more important to open doors than close them. I guess I’m an inclusivity nut and I am excited to see what I might be able to bring to this amazing institution, in terms of breaking feminism down for young women who might not have the scoop on what it’s really all about or even be fearful of it.
I’m also so keen to learn from the VWT and continue my own feminist education working with some of the most inspiring, on the money individuals who are actioning incredible projects and real change everyday.
Gender equality seems to be a thread throughout your work. What has been the biggest influence on your take on gender equality?
EH: I know it’s a typical answer but my parents were the biggest influencers in my take on gender equality. My dad took time off after I was born to care for me and my mum went back to uni to get her teaching degree. He used to carry me around in a papoose thing while he worked too. My after school care in kinder and primary school was done by a bunch of dads in the country. Me and my friends would go to each others places after school, rotating houses throughout the week and a different dad would take care of this mob of 5 little girls. We had so much fun doing things on the farm, going on adventures, making exceptional hay stack cubbies and driving four wheelers. It was a special time. My friends and I talk about the freedom we felt and the emboldening effect of the encouragement of those mother duck dads.
My mum is an incredible role model. The way she raised my brother and I to be who ever we wanted/needed to be, even if that means being the odd one out, is still the most valuable set up I’ve had.
When I was growing up I felt somewhat ‘genderless’ at times, and I mean that in a good way. I’m a person first, a women second, and I feel that self perception has been of great benefit in my life.
You’ll be making an appearance at the upcoming Breakthrough event. Why is it important for us to ‘break through’ in Australia? Why now?
EH: We have a great opportunity here to lead the way in pushing forward with gender equality. As a country we are—generally—lucky. We are wealthy, we are educated and we are for the most part safe, but that automatically makes it our duty to push harder, to reach out and keep this conversation powerful and pertinent as we all know there is so much still to do and address.
There are massive gaps in equality all around (from wealth to personal safety) and the time to address them is NOW!
Hear Ella Hooper alongside over 100+ more passionate change makers like Rosie Batty, Tara Moss, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Leigh Sales, and Judith Lucy. Join us in shaping the future of equality. Tickets on sale now!