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TGt Meets...Laura James from Swindon Theatres - IWD

March 8th is International Women’s Day – and the theme this year is #BreakTheBias. Laura James breaks the bias and answers some interesting IWD questions...

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Laura James, Theatre Director at Swindon Theatres (the Wyvern Theatre and Swindon Arts Centre).

If you are a woman in business – has your gender worked positively or negatively for you? 

Generally in my industry I’ve been lucky and not felt overly disadvantaged by my gender, but well supported and encouraged. However I can think of several situations that I’ve been in where I have felt overlooked or underestimated because of being female or perhaps because of how I look or dress. Board meetings or new introductions come to mind where I have been the only female in the room and have felt pressure to prove myself or ‘hold my own’ so that I have an equal voice.

Can you share details of three women – famous, alive or not – who inspire you?

Helena Bonham-Carter – sensational and versatile actress who is unapologetically quirky, eccentric and unique. She had a tough upbringing and spent many years caring for her Mother. As well as being an incredible actress, she isn’t afraid to speak up about political issues and commits a lot of time to charity.

J.K.Rowling – For the phenomenal creation of Harry Potter, which has had a huge impact on me and inspired generations of readers, but also for her incredible work for and donations to charity.

Rupi Kaur – Canadian poet, illustrator, photographer, and author. She writes beautiful and inspiring poetry which is hugely influencing the modern literary scene and a new generation of poets. Her writing about her own personal trauma is particularly inspiring for women and is elevating diversity in the world of writing.

‘i stand

on the sacrifices

of a million women before me

thinking

what can i do

to make this mountain taller

so that the women after me

can see farther’

legacy – rupi kaur

Can you share details of three women in business in your circles who inspire you?

Rachael Matwiejczyk-Booth (Total Swindon) – I have known Rachael for many years now and I am always in awe of her confidence and energy. She has so much drive, ambition and passion for what she does and she is impossible to say no to! She is also incredibly kind and generous and just bloody great at what she does.

Fiona Da Silver-Adams (Revolution Performing Arts) – Fi is an incredible lady who is leading and inspiring whole new generations of young people through her work with RPA. Her and the company’s ethos of allowing children and young people to express themselves freely in a creative environment that is fully supportive of their mental and emotional wellbeing and letting them be themselves is just wonderful.

All of my wonderful Swindon Theatres colleagues – I know this is cheating but I am honestly surrounded by so many amazing women I couldn’t possibly pick just one. It is a privilege for me to work alongside people of all ages and backgrounds who make Swindon Theatres the business that it is. They are talented, passionate, fearless, committed, adaptable, kind beyond words and so much more. I wouldn’t still be here after almost 14 years if it wasn’t for the people that I get to call colleagues and friends.

Can you share details of three women close to you who inspire you?

My Mum has always been an inspiration to me. She was a fierce leader during her career in Hotel Management and always put absolutely everything into her work as well as being a brilliant Mum. Over the years she has been my rock and the one to support me through the darkest of times. Recently she has fought cancer and won and I couldn’t be more proud of her strength and resilience.

My Auntie Rosie, who I have looked up to and admired since about the age of 4. Rosie has always been a cross between a best friend and a second Mum to me, and just the coolest Auntie alive. She is an incredible mother, career woman, charity worker, writer, director, community advocate, runner and friend to literally hundreds of people. I am very lucky to have her in my life.

Both of my Grandmothers, Jaqueline and Christine who are sadly no longer with us. They inspire me every day and I only hope I am making them proud.

What do you think can be done to really #breakthebias?

Women need to recognise and be reminded of their own power so that we can use it to educate and inspire as well as continue to fight the bias together in every aspect of our lives.

Are you doing anything at all to mark IWD 2022? 

Attending the Total Swindon International Women’s Day networking event.

Find out more about Swindon Theatres HERE!

Wyvern Theatre Swindon

Wyvern Theatre Swindon

Wyvern Theatre Swindon offers an excellent mixed programme of concerts, comedy, dance, drama, musical theatre and local amateur productions.

Theatre Square, Swindon, SN1 1QN

Swindon Arts Centre

Swindon Arts Centre

The cultural hub of Swindon, the Swindon Arts Centre plays host to exhibitions, live music, theatre productions, film screenings and much more.

6 Devizes Road, Swindon, SN1 4BJ

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