As Me with Sinéad — 7: Adwoa Aboah

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As Me with Sinéad — Adwoa Aboah transcript


[00:57] Sinéad Burke: On this week’s episode of As Me with Sinéad, I’m genuinely so thrilled to share an incredible conversation that I had with Adwoa Aboah — the one and only. I’ve long admired Adwoa, not just for her boundary-breaking work and fashion as a model and challenging the stereotypical definitions of beauty, but also the ways in which she uses her voice for advocacy to lift others, sit them at the table, and facilitate different but important conversations through Girls Talk. Most particularly, I’ve really admired her openness about the struggles she shares with so many. 


[01:34] Adwoa Aboah: I’m always trial and testing my environments to what, you know, can trigger me and what makes me feel good and what doesn’t make me feel good. And that’s exhausting. Because sometimes I just want to wake up and not have to think about what might send me over the edge. 


[01:48] Sinéad Burke: The thing you should know this week is extra special. We’ll be releasing multiple episodes per week as a special gift for the holidays starting next week on every Tuesday and Thursday. Yes, you can have me in your ears every Tuesday and Thursday during the holidays. There’s just so many conversations that I want to get into your earbuds. And I know I’m biased, but they really are incredible. Are you ready for this week’s episode? Let’s go!


[02:21] Sinéad Burke: Welcome to As Me with Sinéad. I am in a small studio in London that’s very blue. But actually I’m speaking to somebody who is really quite extraordinary in that they use the enormous platform that they have to ensure that none of us feel alone. And they work in an industry where exclusion is the currency. But actually, they have leveraged that and twisted it on its head to make it about inclusion, and realize that we all have a part in a place in this world, and that we should celebrate that and rejoice in our whole selves. I’m sitting across from the model and activist and all round stellar human being, and best voice in the industry, Adwoa Aboah! 


[03:07] Adwoa Aboah: Well, thank you, Sinéad, for having me. 


[03:09] Sinéad Burke: It’s such a treat. 


[03:10] Adwoa Aboah: That was such a — that was a mega introduction. 


[03:12] Sinéad Burke: Your mother would be so proud and so pleased.


[03:16] Adwoa Aboah: It was a really, really good introduction. Thank you. 


[03:20] Sinéad Burke: How do you describe yourself personally and professionally? 


[03:25] Adwoa Aboah: Personally and professionally. Professionally, activists, founder of Girls Talk, and model. There are other things, but that’s probably professionally what I go for. And then personally, I just want to be a truth teller, always. I want to be known as a truth teller and one that kind of sets good examples and is really themselves, like, wholeheartedly. Think that’s why I like. 


[03:56] Sinéad Burke: Have you always been that way? 


[03:57] Adwoa Aboah: No, not at all. I think it was like — I think that’s why it’s so important. I think I was just alive most of the time, to be honest. 


[04:03] Sinéad Burke: What were you like as a kid? 


[04:05] Adwoa Aboah: As a kid I was so shy. I was that girl at school that was like really shy and like a bit geeky, but had quite cool friends. I was friends with like the coolest girls in school. But I was like the mute one. And I have a really good friend called Guyla Gordon, and she always said I was always around but I could hardly, like, say a word. I was just like mute. And I was just too frightened to ever say anything. But I was really shy, really quiet, a bit scared of everything. But as it went on in life, I think I — when I say liar, I just became very good hider of feelings. And I was really good at like putting up a mask and all sorts of things. 


[04:47] Sinéad Burke: Was it a defense mechanism? 


[04:48] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah. A complete defense mechanism, because — I always say this, but there was like an age where I was like probably about 14, and I remember just being like, ‘nah, basta to emotions, basta to feelings.’ No more, not going to feel anything. Obviously, I can’t stop myself from feeling anything, but how can I make sure that no one ever knows how I really feel? Because they’re just not listening. And if they’re not listening, it makes it all the more worse because I feel even more rejected and alone. So best thing to do is just keep everyone at arm’s length and just go, I’m just fine. I’m fine. I can do it all. 


[05:25] Sinéad Burke: What that moment? 


[05:27] Adwoa Aboah: Boarding school. I just was really bored of telling my parents specifically that I just hated it. I was bored of kind of not really being listened to at school in terms of like the emotions that I felt. And I didn’t think it was really being taken seriously. So I was just, like, nah.


[05:45] Sinéad Burke: I’m done. 


[05:46] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah, I’m done. 


[05:47] Sinéad Burke: So, you know, my background is being a teacher. So I think that’s really intriguing because being a disabled woman, I think I was really conscious of always living in a world that wasn’t built for me. And it’s like if a child comes to you and says, ‘I feel alone’ or ‘I don’t feel like I belong here.’ How do you manage that conversation? And that’s not to say that people are blameless. But how do we change that?


[06:13] Adwoa Aboah: I mean, we spoke about this on text message the other day and I just got back from all my back to school with Girls Talk road trip. And it was just that. I was like, I haven’t even been given the language to speak to some of these kids about their family situations and their upbringings. I don’t even know how to even gauge that conversation with someone who comes from absolutely nothing but wants for everything. That was my best way of describing it. I was around all of these kids who you could feel it in them. They wanted so much. They wanted to be here and there and doing all sorts of things. They had aspirations. But by age 14, they’d already told themselves that that was never gonna be part of that journey. That was never going to be a reality for them. Saying nah, definitely not going to be a singer. Age 14. It really woke me up. I already, you know, I’m a sensitive human. I’m aware of other people’s situations and the ideas and realities that not everyone can do the same things. But when you’re face-to-face with that and someone’s not even talking about what’s going on, you can just feel it in the room, the energy. This sad and awful energy of people who are completely forgotten about and fucked by celebrity culture, and social media, and society in general. You’re like, oh my god, I don’t even know where to start. 


[07:41] Sinéad Burke: But where do we start? So you just came off, as you said, the school tour for Girls Talk. You’ve been off just a couple of days. How have you spent those few days? 


[07:51] Adwoa Aboah: I’ve been exhausted, but very happy. I’ve spent the whole weekend being very happy and content. But I’ve caught myself many times, like, you know, doing the same things that I spoke about the school — checking my Instagram, you know, going into these dark holes and judging myself up against other people. Because I took a season off Fashion Week this year. And, you know, it’s really tickled my ego and made me feel slightly uncomfortable, but I was very content being away from it. But it’s interesting when I’ve come back and I’ve had time where my head takes me to who I start comparing myself against then and all sorts of things. 


[08:32] Sinéad Burke: What’s the monologue in your head at the moment? 


[08:34] Adwoa Aboah: The monologue is — OK, this is what the monologue is like — it’s not that I should be there, because I’m very actually grateful that I made the decision not to be there. The monologue that goes through my head — I’m going to be really honest — is she’s changed herself — I’m talking about other people — she’s changed herself. She looks thinner. She’s had more work done. And the industry has even has celebrated her even more. And should I do that? That’s the monologue that goes through my head.


[09:03] Sinéad Burke: And what’s your answer? 


[09:04] Adwoa Aboah: No. But I have to really go — I know I won’t because it’s a full-blown no. But it is one that definitely, you know, comes into my mind every so often. 


[09:19] Sinéad Burke: And it’s interesting that you now describe yourself as a very sensitive person, considering where we started this conversation with you at 14 going, I’d rather not have emotions, thank you very much. How have you got from there to there? 


[09:31] Adwoa Aboah: Because I’ve always been sensitive — it’s not necessarily about getting — well, part of the journey was getting there. Because now I have to be kind of — I’m very respectful of my sensitivity. I was talking to someone about it last night I was driving them home. And I was just like — she was telling me about this therapy that you can do where they look in your iris and they can tell all sorts of things. They were like, well, it’s very interesting that your iris is like that because it shows that people’s energies attach themselves to you, and you take on a lot of everyone’s stuff, and you’re always feeling stuff. And she was, like, it made me feel so much better because that’s exactly how I feel. And I was like I’m definitely gonna go and do that because that is how I feel 100 percent of the time. 


[10:12] Sinéad Burke: Three of my siblings are optometrists and I’m hearing about this from you for the first time. There are going to be eruptions in the Burke household. Three of them are optometrists.


[10:23] Adwoa Aboah: That’s so cool. 


[10:25] Sinéad Burke: I know more about cataract than any one ordinary human being without cataract should ever know. So the idea that they could look into my eyes and tell me that I’m an empathetic person —


[10:34] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah, isn’t that amazing? 


[10:36] Sinéad Burke: It’s incredible. 


[10:37] Adwoa Aboah: And I was, like, that is how I feel 100 percent of the time. I’ve always been sensitive. My mum said that I like literally came out of the womb — she was like, you were full of fear. You’re a full of fear kind of person. I’m just I’m a worrier. And that used to be — I used to resent that, that I couldn’t just go with the flow. And I wasn’t just an easy, breezy type of person. And that everything made me feel a certain way, and everything, kind of like — I could be in a crowd of people and there could be an off energy and I’d walk home with that off energy. It would stay with me for the entire week.


[11:14] Sinéad Burke: And how have you learned to respect your own self within that? 


[11:18] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah. Now I celebrate my sensitivity because it’s the only reason — and my empathy — because it’s the only reason I could do things like Girls Talk. I use it as a tool to meet people halfway. And I think that’s the reason why people find it quite easy to talk to me. Because I also meet them in the middle with sensitivity and empathy for what they might tell me. But I’ve learned how to protect it because of my other side of my life, which is the fashion industry, and the parties, and being in the public eye, which isn’t always the best environment to be when you’re taking on everyone else’s share. So sometimes I just stay inside. 


[12:00] Sinéad Burke: But how do you extract yourself then from that? How do you mind yourself coming away from those moments, having given so much? 


[12:10] Adwoa Aboah: I definitely give too much in all situations. I think I have really no medium, like middle ground. I get situations in my life where I’m like, OK, stop. Everything has to stop. And I can’t see anyone and I can’t do anything. And I don’t think it has to get to that point where I’m like — you’re on the verge of a kind of burnout. I just find people quite complicated. I find that people’s energy a lot. And it can be anyone from my best friend to a complete stranger who honks me while I’m driving. Doing anything can like kind of send me over the edge. I’m not sure where that happened. But my mom’s definitely a worrier, I think. So maybe it came from her. 


[12:52] Sinéad Burke: Thanks, mom. 


[12:53] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah. Thanks so much. 


[12:56] Sinéad Burke: You have a sister, right? 


[12:57] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah. 


[12:58] Sinéad Burke: Is she similar? 


[12:59] Adwoa Aboah: No! She was always — I mean, she definitely probably worries a bit more, but I think that comes with age. But before that, she was always the first one, you know, to ride down the big kill on the bike, or to jump in the cold river, or to like kind of go over to random family friends kids and like go for a sleepover with them. Complete, like, strangers. I was like, absolutely not. No way. Staying at home. I don’t want to do anything like that. I didn’t want to put myself in any situation that might make me feel uncomfortable. 


[13:31] Sinéad Burke: What were you afraid of? 


[13:32] Adwoa Aboah: Just the unknown, I think. I still hate staying at people’s houses. I still hate it. I can’t do it.  I can’t even stay at my boyfriend’s house. 


[13:43] Sinéad Burke: Well, I’m so glad you’re lowering the lights switches in your house so that I can come see you. 


[13:36] Adwoa Aboah: You can come stay the whole time. ButI don’t know, Kesewa was always just a lot more carefree. 


[13:57] Sinéad Burke: I’m quite calculating in terms of — I’m the eldest of five — and I’m the only little person among my siblings. And my siblings would’ve been quite similar to your sister in that, you know, they would be on the slide. My parents used to, I think, question whether or not I was afraid to do things because I was a little person, or because I was Sinéad. And it was this duplicity. People would say to me, oh, you must be so disappointed that you’re not tall enough to go on roller coasters in Disneyland. And of course, to their face, I’d be like, yes, absolutely. Whereas internally I’m thrilled. The idea of not going on Space Mountain gives me joy. But at the same time, I think I was afraid of getting hurt, physically. But I’m also comfortable, I think having had to be, at the top of the classroom, or admitting my vulnerabilities, because I think I relied on other people making that empathetic connection to me in order to, like, help me? Something as simple as reaching the handlebar on a door and not being able to pull it open and saying to somebody, I’m really sorry, but actually I can’t do that. Will you help? And it’s trying to mind yourself within that. When did you realize that you wanted to be a model, or you were going to be a model? 


[15:12] Adwoa Aboah: I wanted to be a model because I — not because I felt that I could be a model. That’s the crazy thing. It was nothing in me, that ego hadn’t formed yet. I definitely didn’t think I could be a model. I just knew that, OK, there’s a few people around me — I’d been scouted a few times, so someone out there thinks I could be in models. So I might as well jump on this because the idea of being financially independent from my parents was so like, oh, it’s all I wanted was to be able to do and whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. So that’s when I kind of went for it. But that was like age 18. 


[15:54] Sinéad Burke: What was your backup plan before then? What were you going to be in your own mind? 


[15:58] Adwoa Aboah: Oh, I just always have been obsessed with theater and drama, so I always wanted to act.

[16:05] Sinéad Burke: Really? As an introvert? I find that beguiling. 


[16:10] Adwoa Aboah: I know, it’s so mad. Another mad story — so when I went to boarding school, the only reason why I made friends — and they’re probably the only friends I still have from boarding school — is because my friend, Zoe — she would see me every day crying on school campus. And there was one day she said, I have had enough. This girl, she’s crying. She’s so unhappy. So she was like, you know, there’s school auditions for the play. And I went — I don’t know where I was able to muster up that courage from, but I decided to go and audition for the school play. I got in. And ever since then, that was my first love. That was like the only thing I was interested in.


[16:46] Sinéad Burke: What was the play? 


[16:47] Adwoa Aboah: It was a devized piece that one of our drama teachers had written and was called Dream On. And it was about a dream within a dream within a dream. And it was just like the most fun I’ve ever had. And it was the only time — soon as I stepped out of drama class, or stepped out of like that area of school campus, as I was back to being mute and shy. And when I was in the drama class, I was like having the best time. 


[17:17] Sinéad Burke: Why?


[17:18] Adwoa Aboah: I think it’s hard when you’re at — boarding school is a complicated one because you go there because you’re good at — well, when I went to boarding school, I went in there because I was good at something, and that was sports. When I got there wasn’t the best anymore from when I was at my school. And the thing is, I think, I’ve found — I’ve spoken to a lot of people who’ve gone to like private boarding schools is you can fall under the cracks when you’re not necessarily like really academic, or really sporty, or like a scholarship of some sort of thing. And I think it was the first time I was I’m not going to be the best at athletics. Definitely not going to be the best at academics, but I may be quite good at this. And I really like it. I’m trying to work out because I’ve never really thought about it. I think that was it. I think it was just like, maybe I’m quite good at this. And if so, like, I’m just going to go for it. 


[18:09] Sinéad Burke: And have you acted much since? 


[18:12] I have. So I went to university, I did a degree in drama. And I don’t think anyone knows I went to university. I think rehab overshadowed it. I think my parents forget sometimes. And then I decided I got an agent. I was going to, you know, go to auditions and stuff. But like, my head was somewhere else. I was, like, so not taking anything in my life seriously at that point. Like literally just taking drugs and drinking was like my main priority. So obviously nothing came about it. And I didn’t really ever put my all into any audition that kind of came my way, to be honest. And then obviously, modeling got in the way and that took over. And now — I’m not shouting about it because it’s my thing at the moment. 


[19:05] Sinéad Burke: Until you’re in Chateau Marmont with a cigarette in your hand surrounded by six Emmys. 


[19:12] Adwoa Aboah: So I’m just like at the moment it’s my thing, and I’m doing my classes, and I have an agent again, and I’m putting my all into it. Because I will never know then, you know, who knows what could happen? It might not work out. But I think most drug addicts will say this like — I do life as seriously as I took drugs. Like it’s like all or nothing for me. So like anything I do in my life is done with such like full-force attention and dedication that it is exhausting all of the time. And, you know, I spend a lot of time thinking about — I want to make sure that with the acting, I do this with everything. I want — and that’s an uncomfortable space to be in. Although it’s exciting, it’s again, the unknown. And I’m kind of taking a backseat in certain other things that have kind of prioritized my life. But I can’t have everything, so if I’m going to — if I have to make way for other things at the moment, that’s acting. 


[20:19] Sinéad Burke: As someone who said some minutes ago that they are constantly terrified of the unknown. You have just uttered the phrase. And not to be a therapist about it — acting might not work. But I’m going to try it.


[20:28] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah, but that’s how my life has changed. That’s how I’ve changed. I mean, it’s mad, isn’t it? No, now I jump into challenges. I don’t know where that came from. Like anything that’s scary or might make me feel uncomfortable — I get this like this adrenaline rush. And I’m not saying — people or like social situations, maybe not. That’s still something I probably have to deal with. But like, you know, meetings with like top directors, and auditions, and school assemblies with 300 kids, and talks where I have to kind of make sure I don’t ‘um’ and don’t swear and I kind of, you know, get the point across to an audience that might not know about Girls Talk — I love it. Nothing makes me happier than doing something that, like, kind of challenges me. I realized I was so uncool at school when I went back this week. But I loved it. I loved it. I wish I’d been that comfortable with being whatever when I was age. Because I’m now 27 I can go back and I’m like hanging with the students, and I’m being my most geeky self, and I love it and I’m so happy. But it brings a sort of kind of like nostalgic sadness because you’re like, fuck, I was so not like that at that age. I was so uncomfortable. Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had come in who was a bit like similar age, or I don’t know. 


[21:59] Sinéad Burke: Just that you could connect. 


[22:00] Adwoa Aboah: That I could connect. Yeah, exactly. 


[22:02] Sinéad Burke: I always wanted a teacher who looked like me. 


[22:03] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah. That would have been so important. 


[22:05] Sinéad Burke: What’s it like to live in your body now?


[22:08] Adwoa Aboah: To live in my body now. Let’s do the negatives first, which would be my own negatives. I’m a perfectionist, so that means I battle with myself like probably like quite a few hours of the day. Like how well I’ve done, or have I done it good enough. Or everything I do I have to like do perfectly, which isn’t ever going to you know — what is perfect anyway? But it’s like I think I just don’t want to waste any time. I’m just like those years where I was so unhappy and — it wasn’t a waste of time, I obviously can use all of that information now, but it felt like a waste of time. And so now it’s just like — I just don’t believe we have all the time in the world. I don’t believe that saying. I just try and do as much as possible. But it works as a constant argument between self in my head. Take it easy. Keep on going. Slow down. See friends. Don’t see friends. Sit home. Do work. And there’s this whole thing. 


[23:12] Sinéad Burke: Watch Love Island. 


[23:12] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah, exactly. And I feel uncomfortable. Mental health, as well — it’s like, I don’t think about drugs or alcohol at all. I’m very comfortable being sober. I live a better life sober. I’m happier sober. I can still go out and dance all night and just drink water and I celebrate that. But mental health is — it’s an uncomfortable feeling because I’m always — you know, it’s like about trying to get the right concoction. I never know — like sometimes, you know, full blown exercise. It really works. Medication. Yes. No. I’m always trial and testing my environments to what, you know, can trigger me and what makes me feel good and what doesn’t make me feel good. And that’s exhausting because sometimes I just want to wake up and not have to think about what might send me over the edge. And the mental health thing is just this thing I’m still educating myself on. And, you know, it’s sometimes it’s still hard. It’s like, you know, people can’t see my anxiety. And I think there’s part of me that’s still that — they can be that line. He’s very good at putting up a front because no one wants the anxiety on a shoot. No one wants that on set. So I’ve just learned how to, you know, leave at home sometimes. So I can get the job done. But in general, I’m happy. And I’m really happy. You know what? I really like grown-up life. I like all the responsibilities. I love routine. I love the mundane. I think I’ve always been like working my way towards a life that wasn’t so kind of chaotic. And like when you’re younger and a teenager. 


[24:47] Sinéad Burke: Do you ever regret sharing so much about yourself?


[24:51] Adwoa Aboah: I don’t ever regret sharing about my mental — someone to share — I regret sharing about my like the addictions I had to my life, because I just think it’s — whatever happens, even though there’s not part of me that wants to have a drink or do anything like that again, I just think it is added pressure that’s not needed. Because there is part of my job that’s always — the kind of flawed woman. I think there’s an energy still out there that’s waiting for certain people to fall and to make mistakes so that we can catch them out. So sometimes I wish I hadn’t spoken about my addiction, but — not really. I never made a plan to ever speak about it. So — 


[25:36] Sinéad Burke: Why did you? 


[25:37] Adwoa Aboah: It just felt right. I was asked the right questions for the first time. I was asked questions that organically led me to speaking honestly about what had been going on in my life. There was no way around me getting around it and to kind of masking it with other kind of sentences, or kind of talking about something else. It was like these were proper questions that I had to answer. And I think I’d been told I had to start doing things differently just before that interview, I did for What’s Underneath. So I was like, yeah, I just gotta tell the truth.


[26:12] Sinéad Burke: But I think it’s challenging when you give yourself publicly in the hope that you can educate and advocate and others don’t feel so alone. It’s hard to then protect some of yourself for you and for your friends and for your family. And for me, the whole idea with this show was about giving people license to share as much humanity of themselves that they were willing to do so. And it came from experiences of me being a little person and me feeling like, due to my physicality, I had to educate the world. But it was always through someone else’s lens. And I think I remember being 18 and doing an interview. And the first question was, hey, when did you realize you weren’t normal? And I said, what does that mean? And I panicked and I said, I don’t know what the correct language was, or being asked questions through the guise of advocacy. Like, what do you say to a guy at a bar? I don’t know how that’s relevant. Well, people will want to know because they they don’t know what it’s like to be you. They don’t know what someone like you is. And it’s that balance of giving people some of yourself, but not all of yourself. When I was excited and interested in speaking with you, I’d force that questions. I was like, let’s see what Adwoa wants to talk. About giving people agency over their own narratives, which I think is what Girls Talk is.


[27:38] Adwoa Aboah: You start talking about your life and people immediately think they can ask you anything they want any time. It’s like, no, you know, mental health has nothing to do with like my favorite lip shade. Or, no, suicide has nothing to do with what’s my favorite 24 hours of the day. I mean, it’s like I’m not going to glamorize it like that. So sometimes that’s exhausting. But there are parts of my life, you know, I’m quite private on my Instagram. You never like — you don’t know about my love life. I’m not quite big on like, saying where I am 24/7. So I do it in my own sort of way where I keep my life my life. 


[28:12] Sinéad Burke: Mm-hmm. I’m interested — both of us — it feels weird for me to say the sentence that I worked in fashion. But both of us are part of an industry that is the vehicle by which many people feel excluded. And both of us are trying to systemically change it, but it’s hard. And I wonder — I don’t know if I see myself working in fashion forever. I kind of want myself to be unemployed as quickly as possible because the changes that I need to be made will be made. But I often wrestle with my relationship with fashion because I think sometimes it can be seen as facetious. But it’s a very important industry. We all legally wear clothes, but yet it’s also an industry that has now, thankfully, a wider definition of beauty, but still, it’s quite narrow from a global context and it’s trying to almost code-switch between those two spaces.


[29:04] Adwoa Aboah: Do you feel included? 


[29:08] Sinéad Burke: I feel more included now, but I’m consciously all the time trying to make sure that my inclusion is not the solution, because I didn’t get into this industry for me to wear beautiful clothes. I began working in this industry because I wanted change. So I wanted more people to feel included. And the idea that people could walk into a department store and buy something that they loved, or even if they couldn’t reach it and the access wasn’t great, that at least people had training and empathy to understand how to instigate that transaction. I wanted more than me to be seen on the cover of British Vogue. And it’s that idea of not being complacent with the privileges that you’re now afforded, and the spaces you get to occupy, but actually using that to leverage it open for more people. So it’s how much flexibility is there within a system and within an industry that has existed and been profitable in this way forever to actually create that change? 


[30:02] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah, I feel included, and I have a job, and I’m able to do great things because of my place in the fashion industry. And I had never felt included before. So I have no idea why I ever thought that I could be a model, because there is no one out there that was like, you know, you look like me, you can do. So it’s kind of mad that I ever thought that was gonna ever be a possibility. But it is and I have a place within it. I have a voice and I have used my platform. But I’m just like, I don’t know if it’s enough sometimes. 


[30:36] Sinéad Burke: What would you encourage people to do? 


[30:37] I would encourage people to — I think it’s so easy now to act like you care because it’s like a trend, or you don’t want to be left out of what’s important. Whether that be the Amazon rainforest or plastic straws or mental health or inclusion, all sorts of things. But like, if you could just take that and put it into everyday life, I think that’s where it would make a difference. That needs to be, you know, sometimes I have to catch myself when I’m doing things that are so un what I’m about, what I say I’m about. Those are when I have to really catch myself and be like, no no, where’s that judgment come from? Why are you being a hater? Let’s step back and look at why you’re doing that. And not really helps me because it just sets me up for like success in all other areas. And I meet relationships in different ways and I go into situations in different ways. But it’s hard, I know. But I think that would be what I would say to everyone is like, whatever your passions, or whatever you stand behind, it has to be more than just a hashtag. It has to be like something that you do every single second of every single day. And it’s difficult. But I think that’s where we’ll see some of the like the great changes. You know, we just have to see it — look at Greta Thunberg and her obsession and her passion for the environment. She’s unstoppable, but she’s obsessed. And I think that’s — it’s always something I found very attractive in all people is an obsession with something. And I think your cause has to be your obsession. 


[32:18] Sinéad Burke: And that it’s contagious. 


[32:19] Adwoa Aboah: Yeah, 


[32:20] Sinéad Burke: But the idea that if you feel so impassioned to do something, so will those around you. And I think part of not feeling alone is that often we feel like our own ability to make a difference is limited. But if we’ve seen from anything — if we’ve seen from you, if we’ve seen from Greta, if we have seen from, you know, the women of color who were talking about what was happening in Flint — that one person’s potential is not limited. That if you care deeply about something to make a difference, you can infect those around you in a very beautiful way. What gives you hope? 


[32:52] Adwoa Aboah: What gives me hope is that I believe that although we’re in a tricky, tricky period, there’s a lot of things that need to be sorted out, what gives me hope is meeting — not even my community, because some of them, you know, now maybe they’re part of the community — but like meeting others who are so aware of what’s not right. And their willingness to kind of change it. And not just watch it kind of do its damage. And that gives me hope, because I’m not — OK, well if it’s not gonna happen while I’m on this planet, it’ll definitely happen for those younger kids. It will definitely happen for them because they can smell it. They know what’s wrong. It’s just hard. It’s hard for all of us to kind of be the person to put your hand up and be like, I don’t want to do it this way anymore. So that gives me hope. What gives me hope is my perfectionism, because I know that I won’t stop until I’ve really made my mark on the world. And I’ve really done what I’ve said I would do.


[33:59] Sinéad Burke: Adwoa, this has been an amazing conversation. 


[34:03] Adwoa Aboah: I’ve loved it! Thank you. I really love that we ended it on a positive. 


[34:06] Sinéad Burke: We did.


[34:07] Adwoa Aboah: Oh, Sinéad. I love you. It’s always great speaking to you.


[34:11] Sinéad Burke: I think you’re amazing. Thank you.


[34:16] Sinéad Burke: What a joy to sit with Adwoa this week and hear more about how she positions herself in an industry like fashion. How can you change something whilst also having questions about how the very system produces, manufacturers and works as an ecosystem? This week’s person you should know is Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. I had the great privilege of meeting Dr. Johnson a couple of years ago when she was on residency at TED. Her TED talk about marine biology and the importance of looking after our oceans changed how I view the world. And if you’re not already following her on Instagram, you should do so pretty immediately. She’s @AyanaEliza. Tell her I said hi. Next week — on Tuesday, remember, more episodes — you’re going to hear from Glenda Jackson, the extraordinary stage actress. I spoke to her moments before she stepped on the boards of Broadway. And as somebody who has lived very different lives in many different arenas, it was a real treat to speak with her. That’s next Tuesday, As Glenda Jackson.


[35:27] Sinéad Burke: As Me with Sinéad is a Lemonada Media original and is executive produced by Jessica Cordova Kramer, assistant produced by Claire Jones and edited by Ivan Kuraev. Music is by Jerome Rankin. Our sales and distribution partner is Westwood One. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard, don’t be shy. Tell your friends or listen and subscribe on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you like to listen, and rate and review as well. To continue the conversation, find me on Instagram and Twitter @thesineadburke, and find Lemonada Media on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @LemonadaMedia.

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