Looking back at 2021: Our top Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews

The diverse group of people, entrepreneurs, or office workers isolated on white background. Multinational company.

In the third and final installments of looking back at 2021, we delve into our favourite and fascinating Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews of the year.

Our Inspirational Women series of interviews aims to highlight amazing women across the globe, showcase their achievements and raise their profiles. Over the years, we have interviewed so many amazing women such as Angie Greaves, Paula Radcliffe, Bianca Miller-Cole, Caprice Bourret, Sara Davies MBE and many more.

Our HeForShe interviews celebrate men who promote and support women in the workplace, whether it is through campaigning, mentoring or giving opportunities to women.

Anna Saccone Joly, Photo Credit Dan Kennedy

Anna Saccone Joly | Youtuber

Anna Saccone Joly is part of UK’s most influential family who this year celebrated ten years of online success. Together with husband Jonathon, the Saccone Joly’s have over 6.8 million combined social media followers and were listed as Sunday Times’ most influential family in 2019.

Initially vlogging privately for the friends and family she missed when she and husband Jonathan moved to England from Ireland, the couple began documenting important things going on in their lives – ‘hobby’ which eventually evolved into the juggernaut that is ‘Saccone Joly’.

Anna has led a pretty extraordinary life – born in America (she maintains a loyal following across the pond), almost every day of the last 10 years have played out for millions of viewers online. At just 31 years old, she is the mother of four children, all of whom feature heavily on both her YouTube and Instagram channels where she has a combined following over 3.2million.

Charlie Webster featured

Charlie Webster | Broadcaster & Sports Journalist

Charlie is an experienced broadcaster, journalist, writer and documentary maker across both TV and Radio. She has worked globally for major TV networks, events, and brands from the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, FIFA World Cup’s to premiere in-depth interviews ranging from superstars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

She made history in the early days of her career becoming the first woman to present football in Asia at just 23 and later the first female globally to anchor a Heavyweight World Title Fight and present the sport of boxing. She has just released her documentary Nowhere to Run on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, Charlie developed her idea behind the scenes from the moment she put pen to paper right through to the edit. Charlie led from behind the camera as well as in front. Her journalistic and storytelling skills have been widely distinguished. Earlier in 2021 Charlie helped produce Ian Wright’s documentary Home Truths as well as featuring in the film.

Ayanna Witter-Johnson featured

Ayanna Witter-Johnson | Singer-Songwriter & Cellist

Ayanna Witter-Johnson is THE definition of eclectic soul, she is a singer, songwriter, cellist who is a rare exception to the rule that classical and alternative R&B music cannot successfully coexist.

This is down to her musical prowess, mesmerising vocals, uncompromising lyrics and mastery for reinterpreting songs on her cello.

The British-born musician graduated from London’s prestigious Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and New York’s Manhattan School of Music with firsts. Since releasing her EPs Truthfully and Black Panther in 2011Ayanna has extensively toured the UK and Europe, composed for The Planets, gaining a MOBO award nomination along the way.

Dhruti Shah featured

Dhruti Shah | Award-winning Journalist

Dhruti Shah is an award-winning journalist with experience in fields as diverse as business, user generated content, development, news, natural history and history and science.

She has  been working on coronavirus pandemic storytelling following a recent stint in Washington DC as a specialist social writer for the BBC.

She was selected as Ochberg Fellow at the Dart Centre for Trauma Journalism at Columbia University, New York and a Rotary International Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. She is a member of the Clore Cultural Leaders Network and the Women of the Future Network.

 

Jackie Weaver

Jackie Weaver | Chief Officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, Author & Internet Sensation

I have worked in the Parish and Town Council sector for 25 years having occupied various posts – Councillor; Clerk and for the greatest time – Chief Officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils.

My job includes providing guidance, support, training and representation for the 230 Councils in Cheshire and enabling them in turn to support their communities and deliver services on their behalf.

In recent months I have made numerous TV appearances on a diverse range of fora; The Last Leg, Steph’s Packed Lunch, Good Morning Britain and have done interviews on radio on a range of subjects; Governance; Diversity; Equality and Bullying.

I have a Twitter following of over 33k,  a popular podcast with diverse guests such as Anton du Beke; Rev Kate Botley and Jack Whitehall and have recently published ‘You do have the authority here’.

Debbie Tembo featured

Debbie Tempo | Managing Director, The Black British Business Awards

Debbie Tembo joined the BBBAwards in January 2021. Since 2016, she has worked with FTSE100 clients, Top 100 Law Firms and one of the Big Four as Client Relationship Director & Board Member at Obelisk Legal Support Solutions.

During her tenure, she was a key driving force behind the successful running and operations of the business, in particular the client and sales function, with critical input into long-term strategic development and goals. Debbie has always had a very strong interest in diversity and inclusion (D&I) having extensively advised FTSE100 and professional services firms about the strategic importance of D&I and its position as a critical enabler of long-term sustainability, from a people and profit perspective. Consistently recognised as a stand-out performer, she was the youngest member of the first international innovations approach in a global HQ and first female manager appointed to a previously male-dominated Africa and Middle East team. Debbie is a member of the 30% Club Race Equity Group Steering Committee.

Gabby Edlin

Gabby Edlin | Founder & CEO, Bloody Good Period

Gabby Edlin is an activist campaigning for menstrual equity, and the CEO and Founder of Bloody Good Period.

She started Bloody Good Period in 2016 when she was volunteering at the New London Synagogue asylum-seekers’ drop-in centre, and discovered that period products were only provided ‘in emergencies’. A whip around for donations of pad and tampons on Facebook turned into a full-blown operation to collect and distribute toiletries and period supplies for asylum seekers all around the UK.

Bloody Good Period has distributed 170,000 packs of period products since the start of UK lockdown in March 2020. Products have gone to refugees and asylum-seekers, food banks, community response groups, shelters for the homeless, those fleeing domestic violence, and in the early days of the pandemic, NHS frontline workers.

With the pandemic continuing to push people into financial hardship and poverty, more and more people are forced to make impossible choices between these essentials and other items. The level of demand is six times higher than pre-pandemic. Gabby has a Masters in Applied Imagination from Central St Martins (Distinction) specialising in feminism and comedy. She is originally from Manchester, and is now based in London.

Lucy Kay (credit Stewart Williams) 10

Lucy Kay | Singer & Britain’s Got Talent Finalist

Since graduating from the Royal Conservatoire Lucy auditioned for TV talent show, Britain’s Got Talent, which she came runner up in 2014 and was immediately snapped up by Record Label Sony Classical.

Her debut album ‘Fantasia’ went straight to Number 1 in the Classical album charts, Number18 in the UK top 40 and record of the week on Classic FM.

Her performances include a private dinner held at Windsor Castle, in aid of Children in Crisis in front of Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson and their two daughters along with a long list of A-listers, recording Flower of Scotland with the band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Royal Navy, with her live performance on ITV’s This Morning. She appeared as a guest on a UK Arena Tour with one of the most iconic and influential performers of Classical Crossover music, Andrea Bocelli and to top it off had been personally invited by Samuel L. Jackson to perform at his charity event ‘One for the Boys’.

Since then Lucy has made her Musical Theatre debut as the role of The Narrator in Bill Kenwright’s UK touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in 2016 and reprised the role again in 2017 and finally Lucy made her WestEnd debut with a new show TriOperas. Lucy’s forthcoming album explores different genres of music from rock to pop.

Keshia East | Founder, No Knot Co

My name is Keshia East, and I’m the founder of No Knot Co – a hair tools and accessories brand specifically targeted to wavy, curly and Afro hair types.

I’m half Ghanaian and half English. I studied history at university and after graduating, I went straight into the beauty world! I started my business in September 2020.

Alice Williams featured

Alice Williams | Founder & CEO, Luminary Bakery

Alice Williams is the founder & CEO of Luminary Bakery, an award winning social enterprise supporting the UK’s most disadvantaged women to reach their potential by providing training, employment & community. Luminary runs two bakeries in London, their most recent store in Camden was opened by HRH The Duchess of Sussex. They have been featured in Vogue, TimeOut, The Telegraph & Vanity Fair.

Capri Cafaro featured

Capri Cafaro | TV Host, Cook, Author & Female Equality Rights Activist

Capri Cafaro is a TV Host, cookbook author, culinary podcast host, and TV commentator.

Previously, Capri was a state senator in her native Ohio for a decade prior to her term ending due to mandated limits. During her tenure as a lawmaker, she also served as Minority Leader for almost 4 years. She graduated with a degree in American Studies from Stanford University at age 19 and holds two master’s degrees as well.

Ruby Raut | CEO & Founder, WUKA

Growing up in Nepal, Ruby Raut traditionally used old sari rags while on her period, which were very sustainable but uncomfortable and often caused embarrassing leaks.

Arriving to the UK in 2010, Ruby was overwhelmed by the wide range of menstrual products available, however none were reusable. While studying for her Environmental Science degree, Ruby decided to create the UK’s first period pants – WUKA are now stocked in over 400 UK stores, including Sainsbury’s and Superdrug, and in over 20 countries. Ruby also launched a campaign calling on the government to remove the tax on period pants. 

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE | Founder, The Black Farmer

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE is a British businessman, farmer, and founder of “The Black Farmer” range of food products.

Born in Jamaica, Wilfred travelled with his parents to the UK in the 1950s and was raised in inner-city Birmingham.

For a number of years, Wilfred worked as a chef before pursuing a career in television. Unqualified and dyslexic, but ambitious and persistent, he talked his way into working in television, rising to become a producer/director for the BBC.

In 1994 he founded a food and drink marketing agency in London which went on to run successful marketing campaigns for Loyd Grossman sauces, KETTLE Chips, Plymouth Gin, Cobra Beer and other challenger brands.

In 2000, Wilfred fulfilled a lifelong ambition and bought a small farm in Devon. This inspired him to develop and launch his own food brand – the now very successful ‘The Black Farmer’ brand of gluten-free foods.

Georgina Calvert-Lee

Georgina Calvert-Lee | Equality & Employment Lawyer, Head of UK Practice, McAllister Olivarius

Georgina Calvert-Lee is Head of UK Practice and Senior Counsel at transatlantic law firm McAllister Olivarius. Her expertise lies in discrimination, harassment and sexual violence law in employment and elsewhere. 

She has represented individuals with employment claims in many industries, with a particular focus on those working in the City.  Her clients’ roles span the work hierarchy, from entry level to the chief executive, and she has navigated successful outcomes in discrimination, equal pay, sexual harassment/assault, victimisation and whistle-blowing claims.

Georgina’s work against online abuse has been punctuated by two high profile successes:  the payment of substantial damages to YouTube star, Chrissy Chambers, in the first (publicized) civil claim for intimate image abuse; and the settlement of a discrimination claim against Warwick University brought by the female students targeted in a Facebook chat.  More recently, she won a claim, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, on behalf of a British Sikh couple denied the opportunity to adopt a white child, with far-reaching implications.

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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