Meet Emelia Symington Fedy
Happy Feminist Wednesday! This week we chatted with Emelia Symington Fedy about vulnerability, the power of sharing your story, her audio-memoir and much more.
Introduce yourself to our Betty's!
I’m Emelia Symington Fedy, a writer, theatre-maker and radio producer. I’m also an uncomfortable mama and a loud feminist. I’m the artistic director of the award-winning creation-based theatre company thechoptheatre.com and I created the popular website and radio show tryingtobegood.com (talking about the dark to shed some light). I’ve just released my greatest and proudest creation to date Trying to be Good…the healing powers of lying, cheating, stealing and drugs. An audio-memoir about searching for happiness at all costs and when life breaks me - for good.
How did you get started?
I started in theatre twenty years ago, making shows that were personal and satirical in form. I built a company that began touring internationally but after about a decade I wanted to reach more people faster and I wanted to get closer and more personal. So I started a website where I wrote about mental health, addictions, my own darkness and basically tried to challenge the “flourecent light” culture I was seeing around me.
I wrote weekly for 7 years and got to be known for my rants on “Spiritual Capitalism” and essays challenging men to do better. I’m not afraid to point out the Emperor/Empress wearing no clothes and I’m confident doing so because I too candidly share my own imperfections with the world.
Because of the sucess of tryingtobegood.com I was offered my own radio show - where every single night I interviewed one guest for an hour about the darkest time of their life- this of course was very intimate and vulnerable work and people flocked to it. Enough with the “search for happiness” all the time, let’s talk about pain. That is what truly connects us immediately.
If I were to distill all the creative work I do into one word - I’m a storyteller. This is the most ancient of all art forms and it’s the simplist and hardest thing to do - to be really, truly ourselves - publicly. There is no mask, just vulnerability and the desire to connect. In my storytelling, whether it be a personal radio documentary about my home town, or a solo-show satirizing yoga culture or an essay about how hard it is learning to be a mother - I choose to ruthlessly investigative my own eff ups. I think this is a feminist act of resistance - to examine and publicly show my imperfections; and then you can laugh/be horrified and relate- and then we all feel closer.
How does feminism influencer your work?
As a sexual assault survivor and child of a single mother I’ve only ever seen women as powerful and resilient. I also know that the only chance we have to save the planet is through feminist leadership. I’m not scared of men, their gaze or what they think of me. Actually…bring it on. I feel like a little pitbull sometimes who doesn’t know her “size” but doesn’t give a shit.
My #1 feminist action is to make friends with women. To build spaces online and in the world for women to be creative, and get the resources and support to do so. For me, the division of women by the patriarchy is the main road block to so many of our systemic issues. And time again I’ve seen us be our own worst enemies. So I show you my belly and I share with you my ridiculousness, and you laugh and feel safe and now we are allies and stronger together.
I try to make art that is specifically not for the male gaze. I use bold language in my writing that is “crass” and “harsh” to intentionally try and change the mold of what “women’s writing” is.When writing or creating I really try to focus on the phrase “no man will ever hear or see this” to free me up to be bolder and wilder. I also candidly talk about my traumas, addictions, mental health and mothering struggles. The more relaxed I can be in my “darkness” lights a bit of a way for women on the path too.
I also am terrified but I do it anyway. In this memoir I share the story of my fathers verbal abuse and I knew it might mean being disowned or assaulted again. It was very scary for me. I spoke the truth about male violence in my home. He hated it. He freaked the fuck out. My worst nightmare came true. I’m still here. Good job, Em!
When making a theatre show, a radio doc or simply telling a story - the question I always return to is “if you were lying in a ditch dying what would you most need to say?” and the answer is always #thefutureisfemale. My career is dedicated to women’s stories, women’s voices and learning from women how to be a better woman myself. I do this in thanks to the women behind me who paved the way and in support of the women ahead of me…blazing bright.
You do such intense and personal work. How do you keep inspired and take care of yourself?
When I’m alone I regenerate so much faster so I lock the bedroom door, light a candle, put a stone on my chest, pull the covers up and ask for some love from the great mother.
- I lie in hot water.
- I make something creative every single day, before what everyone elses needs. I call it “Radical Inconvienience” and with 2 toddlers it takes a lot of discipline, but it keeps me sane.
- I call my best friend and freak the fuck out. That works wonders.
Any final advice for our Betty's?
It’s never going to get easy. It’s never going to pay you what you deserve. It’s never going to make you famous. Now do you still want to do it? Then it’s all yours.
Support Emelia's work:
@EmeliaSF on twit and insta tryingtobegood.com/memoir