The Women in the Online Video Industry panel took place on Friday at Summer in the City 2018 on the Fashion Stage. It featured Lucy Wood, Hannah Witton, and Lucy Chaloner. It was chaired by Rosianna Halse Rojas.
Rosianna Halse Rojas began the panel by asking what each of the panellists was currently excited about in the online space. Lucy Chaloner, Co-Founder and CEO of WEXU, said that because the industry is still comparably so new, “brands and industries are now more willing to learn more about online creators, more in the past six months than ever”. Lucy Wood commented on the shifting interest in squeaky-clean, polished content to more personal, authentic videos. Hannah Witton noted that, now that creators have gotten more comfortable with talking about YouTube as a career, recent conversations about “business and strategy” are increasingly exciting. “It’s those kinds of conversations that I’m especially interested in having with other creators.”
On the subject of the business side of YouTube, Rosianna asked if the panellists were comfortable with calling themselves businesswomen – emphatically, they all agreed. “It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve thought of it that way,” said Lucy Wood. “When you are self-employed and kind of doing your own thing, it can sometimes feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. But I think now that it’s started to become more second-nature, yes, hell yes, I’m a businesswoman!” Hannah actually feels more comfortable with the “businesswoman” label, identifying less as a “creative” than some of the musicians or artists on the platform. “I think recognising the work we’re doing is such a huge and important place to get to, and you have to keep getting to that place continuously,” added Rosianna.
When asked about strategies she uses for combatting internal doubt, Lucy Wood said that being more vulnerable and honest about her insecurities with her audience has helped lessen the impostor syndrome she feels when putting out fashion content. Hannah said that she struggles with impostor syndrome as well, especially when faced with questions that attack her credibility as an educator. “A lot of what helps is my viewers – people writing to me or tweeting me saying, ‘This thing you said really helped’, or, ‘I now understand this because of your content’.”
“There’s also a lot to be said about being honest with yourself,” added Lucy Chaloner.
When speaking about the best ways for women to support other women in the industry, Lucy Wood spoke to the importance of sharing and amplifying content you like. “If you enjoy content, share it!” she exclaimed. “I cannot tell you the difference it makes when videos are tweeted out or put on Facebook. Some of the biggest growth I’ve seen is just through people sharing my content.”
Rosianna then asked the panellists to share any business advice they’ve received over their careers. For Lucy Chaloner, the advice she most consciously refers back to is to not focus on specifics, like how much money you want to make. “You’ve just got to do what you love, and what you’re passionate about,” she said. “You can’t set those abstract goals without knowing you’re doing the thing you’re most passionate about.” Hannah’s personal turning point over the past year was accepting that she’s allowed to view her channel as a business, giving herself permission to want more money and be annoyed by some aspects of running a channel.
An audience question directed the panellists to the subject of further diversity within these types of panels, specifically regarding race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. “I’m very much of the camp of ‘using your platform for good if you have one’,” said Hannah, arguing that you have a responsibility to acknowledge the power you have “especially if you’re privileged”. Rosianna elaborated on the same idea, saying that if you are privileged, you have an obligation to take on issues and have hard conversations. “For me,” she said, “it’s been learning different ways to have these awkward conversations with, for example, event-runners, people giving grants… people who act as gatekeepers to kinds of special access and learning to access what their parameters.”
Another question from the audience turned the conversation to the concept of female-focused panels, asking whether or not continuing to have these panels undermined the equality they’re trying to achieve. Hannah agreed that, in order to actually solve anything, these panels need to be actively constructed with a narrower focus. Rosianna agreed, explaining that “if you’re going to continue to grow the conversation in a way that isn’t lip service, you do need to be continuously doing something different and not just relegating all the women at an event into a single panel.”
“Hopefully,” added Lucy Chaloner, “there will be a day where this doesn’t need to happen.”
Photos by George Yonge.
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