Former intern and now the youngest black Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue, Lindsay Peoples Wagner had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of the most exalted figures in history, Serena Williams, and 12-year-old activist, Naomi Wadler for her first cover issue at a major publication.
The three amazing young women, generations apart, all sat down to talk about how they could use their voices for positive change in order to create #blackgirlmagic. Check out an excerpt of their interview below.
Lindsay Peoples Wagner:There are so many things I want to ask both of you, but one of the immediate things that comes to mind is how you’ve both taken a lot of risks in your personal and professional lives. Why have you been so willing to take risks and speak out, whether about activism or being a woman of color?
Naomi Wadler: Okay, so I want to do all of the events that I do right until I am about to go onstage, because that is when I am like —
LPW: You nervous?
NW: It’s just great to be able to have the platform that I have, and that Serena has, and that you have, because not everybody has those platforms, and so part of that is being able to lift up other voices, and so that it’s not just somebody who is famous, or well known, or just a public figure.
Serena Williams: You put that really well. We’re in a position where we have the opportunity to use our status and our social network, and to use different platforms that we are on and that we can talk about it, ’cause a lot of people see what we post and see the things that we write. And although it’s so fun to have the opportunity to post lots of fun things, I also find it really important to post and talk about real items that affect us on a day-to-day basis.
LPW: Both of you have a lot of participation in different organizations, and, Serena, you have a clothing line now. How do you manage all of those different things? Naomi, you can start.
NW: Okay, so I am managing it pretty horribly, but I mean —
LPW: I’m sure you’re not.
NW: I am. But the key is just to keep going and to recognize that it can only get better from here. Just keeping that mindset of, I’m going to keep going, I’m going to trudge on. It does matter, because it’s important work, but it also is just… what’s the word I’m looking for? OK, there’s not a word for what I’m trying to say, but I want you all to try and imagine.
LPW: I want to talk about confidence. You both are so public, I’m sure you have days where you either get nervous or don’t feel great. How do you pick it back up on those days when you don’t feel so confident that you’re doing the right things or you don’t feel like things are going in that direction?
SW: I think it’s really important to realize that no day is going to be perfect. For me, that’s really hard because I strive for perfection, and I feel like everything I do has to be great and has to be perfect, because I am a true perfectionist. But that’s impossible. That’s not reasonable. Then I realize that, OK, I had a rough day today, let’s do something to make it better tomorrow. I think it’s important to expect to have some really rough times when you’re going through something, but always know that you can overcome it.
NW: I’m going to use my “I don’t know” card right now. It’s just… it’s amazing, seeing all the faces here and seeing everybody who shows up for all these different kinds of protests. And I think that that’s what keeps me motivated, knowing that people care and that I’m not alone, and that we’re not alone, and that we’re all together, and there’s power in numbers. I think about that and I can continue on.
To read the remainder of the Teen Vogue interview, click here.