Grls I Know - Leah

Describe yourself without mentioning work.

I am creative, impatient, passionate, and dedicated to the people that I care about and the causes that I care about. I’m also more sensitive than I lead on. As a Libra, you always want to keep things in balance. No conflict. Keep everyone on an even keel. Some of it does affect me in ways that I don’t necessarily want to let on.

Where did you grow up?

Fremont, California which is the epitome of the suburbs. Boring AF, which made it a great, safe place to grow up but one that I was determined to leave as soon as possible.

How long have you lived in New York City?

I moved here two weeks before 9/11. So, since 2001. Just over 15 years. Wow, I’ve lived here almost as long as I’ve lived in my hometown. I had never been to New York really, before I moved here for school. I just did one campus visit before I moved. So I don’t really know a pre-9/11 New York, but I know that afterwards it was this amazing coming together and immediate support system. It actually feels similar to New York today, after the election: just an immediate sense of shock and despair, and then almost as immediate, this sense of ‘What do we do now?’ which is, banding together, galvanizing, and remaining active.

Tell me what it's like living in New York.

I love it. I love it so much because no matter what my mood is or where my interests lie at any time, I can find an outlet for it. I can find someone who shares that passion or interest or mood. And I can find someone or something to feed that energy.

IN LIGHT OF THE RECENT ELECTION, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A WOMAN IN THE UNITED STATES right now?  

It feels terrifying. It feels terrifying for a lot of people, not just women. I feel angry and ready to wield some power - ready to show Trump and his goons, hell hath no fury, boy. And he just scorned a shit ton of females. 

DID YOU HAVE ANY STRONG FEMALE INFLUENCES GROWING UP?

My mom, for sure. My dad left just before my fifteenth birthday. My mom almost simultaneously had a double aneurysm. So there she

 

 was having very serious brain surgery with no support from this guy that just left her after fifteen years. She got through that first, then went back and finished college, and then she rejoined the workforce. She became a legal assistant and the breadwinner for our family all of a sudden, while my brother and I were in high school being shitty human beings. I didn’t appreciate her at the time, for sure, but looking back at how I’ve made relationships and friendships and professional choices, that strength that my mom exhibited is the biggest influence for me.

Does ‘being a woman’ feel like an active always-present part of your life, or is it not necessarily something that influences your day to day? Or, neither?

I think it ebbs and flows (period joke alert!). I’ve absolutely become more aware of being a woman as I’ve gotten older and more politically aware. I’ve opened my mind to political and societal issues that affect me as as woman. So yeah, when we’re talking about defunding Planned Parenthood or street harassment, I’m definitely aware that I am a woman and that I have some obligation to make the country a safer space for women.

What’s your experience with female friendships? I have some girlfriends who come from big girl gangs and others who have single close friends all over the place.

I have two really close friends that I met freshman year in college and we’re still very, very close. And I have one friend from elementary school that I became really close with in high school. Beyond that, I have friends that are more general... broader acquaintances that I love to hang out with and who I have tons in common with, but it’s not the same as with my three closest friends that I can l always go to.

Does it feel easier or harder to make female friendships as you get older?

I guess harder because I haven’t made any. Ha! At least, not any super tight ones. I'd say I have two or three other really close friend that I’ve made since college.

Is there anything you wish women would talk about more with each other?

Salaries. That's a big one.

Tell me about your first job.

My first paying job was as a file clerk for a law firm. My mom worked there too, it was the first law firm she worked for when she reentered the workforce. I got a summer job as a file clerk. It's 100% a job that doesn’t exist any more because files don’t exist anymore. But in the summer of 2002, there were files. There was a file room. And you had to file things properly otherwise really bigwig, hot-shot attorneys would turn purple yelling at you.

What is your job now?

I'm the director of branded content and strategy at a media company. I concept and produce content for a variety of brands. I know that sounds kind of dry, but I love the ideation process. In my spare time, I throw immersive movie parties with a group called BBQ Films. We basically bring you inside your - and our - favorite films. We've thrown the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance from Back to the Future in a high-school gym; rained "blood" on people at the Blood Rave from Blade while The Crystal Method DJ'd; threw an epic 80s birthday party for Patrick Bateman of American Psycho; and recreated Empire Records at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, with some help from Ethan Embry and GWAR, just to name a few. I get to work with some of the most incredible, creative people in NYC, and it's so much fun. It's so rewarding to see our crazy ideas come to life.

What motivates you to work hard?

I really love to travel. My husband has never been to Europe and I really want to take him. That's our next big trip and what we’re saving for. But also, just doing cool shit. I want whatever I’m doing to be the best. Who doesn't? I want to be proud of what I do.

What advice would you give to young women starting out in your field (or any field) - or maybe even to your younger self?

You’re worth more than you think. There are resources and there are people, women, that will support you and help you. And you just have to ask for it.

 

 

WHAT (OR WHO?) IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?

Tina Fey, or Liz Lemon to be more specific. For the night cheese. For challenging the patriarchy. For working in a predominantly male-lead field, and still bringing spirit and creativity.

Dinner with any celebrity (living or dead)?

Right now, Obama. But my go-to answer for this question has historically been David Bowie.

What was your first concert?

The first concert I got to go to by myself was the BFD- Live 105 at Shoreline Amphitheater. Topping that bill and the reason I was there? Sugar Ray. Those frosted tips get me every time. It remains the only time I’ve waited in an autograph line. I bought a t-shirt and he signed it.

What was your most recent concert?

I haven't been to a concert in a while. I've kind of traded live music for live comedy; maybe 'cause you get to sit down at comedy shows and I'm old now! But the last musical thing I went to was during the NY Comedy Fest. I saw Tim Minchin at the Beacon. If you don't know him, oh my god, prepare to be delighted. He's an Australian musical comic that sings nerdy songs at the piano. But the thing is, he's not just a funny dude, he's a brilliant fucking musician, too. He wrote the songs for Mathilda on Broadway. He's currently writing Groundhog Day, the musical, if you can believe it. He previewed a song from that at the show. God I love him.

Guiltiest pleasure?

Bailing on friends and ordering Seamless and watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in my pajamas.

I LIKE TO THINK OF ALL MY GIRLFRIENDS AS BEING PART OF A MAGICAL COVEN OF STRONG, INDEPENDENT WITCHES. AS A WITCH, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST POWER?

My power is that I’m really good at creative celebrations. Whether you’re celebrating a specific person, or a cult movie, or women in general, I love a good theme party. I will celebrate the shit out of you.

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'GIRLS I KNOW' IS A COLLECTIONS OF CONVERSATIONS WITH SOME OF THE GREATEST WOMEN I KNOW. 

INTERVIEWS ARE PUBLISHED EVERY MONDAY. 

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