Fiona Grey | Singer/Songwriter
Being a female in the music industry was something I never thought about early in my career. I realized the sexism in our society, but still had an optimistic viewpoint on it -- especially getting perspective on how women in other countries live. There were three things that surprised me early on in my career and quickly gave me an understanding of the elements that sucked about being a woman in the entertainment industry.
1. You get called a bitch if you are a confident and powerful woman in this industry. Coming from a family where strong, confident women were such a normality, this was shocking to me. I was so confused as to why I kept getting these “we need to work on your personality” conversations. I don’t want to smile and giggle when I’m working all the time. Just because I look young doesn’t mean I'm not serious about my work. Men in the workplace don’t skip around giggling and complimenting everyone’s sub par work - why should I have to? Compliment when you mean it, smile only when you want to, don’t work with people that expect you to kiss their ass and never apologize for being strong.
2. Another big reality shock was discovering that people will want to work with you only because they want to sleep with you. They might have NO actual interest in you as an artist. Innocence is bliss, until you’re 18 years old at Chateau Marmont having a meeting at 9pm over drinks, working your hardest to continue to steer the conversation back to your career and then dodging the “tour” of their hotel room. Before this, I thought it was some LA cliché, and that only certain opportunists would fall into this situation. I wish this was the only situation; but for me it’s not about bitching about how hard it is, it's about not feeling pressured to do whatever powerful people (men) want.
3. I remember when I started playing shows at 16, girls not that much older than I am now would complain about getting “too old.” The LA version of “biological clock” is this idea that you only have a short amount of time to break into the industry. After this period, you’re no longer a hot commodity. The idea is held upon the mentality that we are only worthy of the success we want when we are young and hot. While growing older could account for better songwriting and increased creativity, our “youth centered industry” weighs so strongly on women that it becomes their main focus. The only way to stop the problem is to stop focusing on it. It sounds so cliché, but we all have our own journey, and the quicker we realize this and stop comparing ourselves to other artists, the happier we will be. This is advice I have to remind myself of… nearly every day.
What I realized once I came to terms with my green ideals surrounding this industry, is that we as women need to continue encouraging change. I write a lot of music about pop culture and the ways these media trends fulfill and destroy us, as women and as human beings. Living in a society where there is such pressure on women to achieve perfection, it’s crucial for us to constantly fight not against men, but for each other. I think, as women, we can create a revolution by working together, and this will ultimately help us achieve recognition for artistry, rather than youth and appearance.
I’m really inspired by women like Madame Ganhdi and Liz from HOLYCHILD, because I watch these talented women campaigning for other artists in a non-competitive way - whether it’s collaborating with other female artists, speaking on panels or championing for their community. I think it’s important that we release our anger with this industry through our art, and not project it onto our fellow women in the business. If we continue to hold each other up and encourage each other as artists, we can work to overcome the injustices and challenges forced on us.