Gelila Bekele

Model, Humanitarian, Activist, Filmmaker

Whether Gelila Bekele is in front of the lens or behind it, she firmly believes that the future is female. Throughout all her documentary work Gelila's primary focus is showcasing and strengthening girls voices through her creative platforms. 

Q: Where is home?

A: Home is...Different places.

Q: Mantra you live by?

A: To be in the moment. whatever I am, be all there.

Q: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

A: I like to think of my self as Funny, Curious and Adventurous.

Q: Favorite song of all time? 

A: Anchi Bale Game by Mahamoud Ahmed.

Q: Complete the sentence: I got my big break when…

A: When I became a model  (everything changed).

Q: Last album you listened to? 

A: Cold Play,  A Head Full of Dreams.

Q: A woman you admire?

A: It’s not just one particular woman,  I am inspired by women who never lose hope in the darkest times; women that constantly put themselves on the line to better other lives; women who are fighting for social justice, and dedicating  time and energy to spin the wheel of positive change.

Q: ‘Other’ is about loving what makes you different. It’s about being yourself. What’s ‘other’ about you?

A: I love making content that tells the untold human stories.  I am dedicated to fighting for young girls in rural parts of the world, their right to have education and a platform to dream.  I love how modeling and the life I had in front of the camera for 15 years has thought me to be a better camera operator.  And I am loving motherhood, which has thought me unconditional love, and made me look at the world in a different lens.

Q: Complete the sentence. When I wake up in the morning I...

A: When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is kiss my 2 year old son.

Q: Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

A: “Be the person you needed when you where a child.”

Q: One thing that not many people know about you? 

A: I was Pre-Med  in college.

Q: Your advice to an emerging maker?

A: Start with what you love and never give up until you are happy with your self/result. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.

Q: The time I nearly gave up…explain.

A: Between 2007/ 2008.  I was on the road constantly, living in village huts for months while filming which was physically and mentally exhausted. Thank God I didn’t give up. Documentary filmmaking can be physically consuming, especially when you are exposed to extreme living conditions but I learned to love the process of making a film, and that goes back to truly loving what you do.


Q: Complete this sentence: The future is female because…

A: The future is female because women are constantly facing misogynistic, patriarchal, cultural walls. When we say the future is female,  to me at least  it means encouraging and validating young girls to dream about becoming a president, astronaut, politician, scientist, filmmakers..…. with no limits.  It gives women the chance and the voice to have a strong presence in making decisions in all aspects of human existence. It gives us room to create our own narrative. It can be misunderstood as anti-male at times, but it’s actually an echo of the time we are in; it's against the biased and completely one-sided world  controlled by men and their idea of how a woman should look, act and think.  The future is female because we can’t keep living in a willful denial of history.

Jasmine Solano

DJ, TV Host, International Music Influencer

Jasmine Solano has two world tours under her belt in addition to a show on MTV titled "Scratch the Surface." Most recently, Jasmine launched a non-profit photography series, Unity In Color - which stands for solidarity in Women's Rights - and has since spread to over 10+ cities worldwide. 

Q: Where is home?

A: Right now it’s both NYC and Los Angeles!

Q: Last album you listened to.

A: This isn’t a new release, but I just discovered Y’akato’s “Baby Blues” album and it’s so magical – it’s been on repeat.

Q: A woman you admire?

A: Besides my mother (who will always be #1) – a woman I totally admire right now is Morgan Rhodes. She’s a Music Supervisor and long time DJ. She was the Music Supervisor for Ava DuVernay’s “Selma”, “Queen Sugar”, “The Door” and most recently the new Netflix series “Dear White People”. I’ve had a chance to sit down with Morgan and hear about her life story & deep love for music. The way she’s carved out her own lane in the cross section of music & film is beyond inspiring!

Q: One thing not many people know about you?

A: At one point in college when I was DJing on the radio, I almost got my Feng Shui Practicing Certificate – but decided to focus on music solely. But the principles of feng shui & home design are still my passions!

Q: Complete this sentence: The future is female because…

A: It has to be - to even the playing field. The future needs to celebrate the feminine, be inclusive of women of color, LGBTQ women, women of different backgrounds & faiths. Women have to be seen as necessary decision makers within the work place, the household, the media and the government.

Q: Your advice to an emerging maker?

A: Do your research. Study your craft. Learn about business. Prepare your mind & spirit such that you are confident enough to take the risks required. Longevity comes when you build substance in your brand. Failure is necessary for growth, welcome the journey with a smile and a wink ;)

 

Melissa Battifarano

Creative, Visionary, Designer Darling of American Fashion.

Melissa Battifarano has been an American fashion designer for over 10 years and since graduating from FIT where she studied knitwear, she has risen through the ranks of established brands from Tommy Hilifiger and Ralph Lauren to launching Tory Sport. Additionally, she was the senior designer for Sean Jean (where the brand won the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award) and most recently, Melissa served as design director for Rhianna's line FentyxPuma. Melissa believes with strong conviction that it is time for women to be in charge of their own destinies. 

Q: Where is home? 

A: I've live in the LES for the past 15 years

Q: How would you describe yourself in 3 words? 

A: Loyal, confident, strong willed.

Q: Favorite song of all time?

A: Frank Sinatra "My way," it reminds me of my father.

Q: Complete the sentence: I got my big break when…

A: I was finally hired as a director at Ralph Lauren. I interviewed there four times! It was my favorite American brand for so long. To finally get hired there, and walk into those offices uptown… I said it out loud, “I made it”. I still hold onto my business cards from that job seven years ago. 

Q: Last album you listened to

A: R Kelly Tp2

Q: A woman you admire? 

A: There are a lot of women I admire, the first being my mother. She passed away when I was 5, and I admire her for her quiet strength. I admire Jackie O for her fortitude, and grace and style through all the adversity.

Q: Complete the sentence. When I wake up in the morning I... 

A: I give my dog Rocco belly rubs for a good 5 minutes.

Q: Best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Always overdress and you will never be underdressed

Q: One thing not many people know about you?

A: I am fiendish about making to do lists on my phone. Nothing Is more rewarding than checking off a to do list!

Q: Your advice to an emerging maker?

A: My advice would be to always be prepared for the worst, because inevitably, the garment will rip, the presentation will get coffee spilled on it, the laptop battery will die, there will be an accident on the BQE, etc. You must think of absolutely everything, so you can really focus on the task at hand, and not the “what if” something goes wrong, because it always does and that can NOT be the end of story.

Q: The time I nearly gave up…explain.

A: Never gave up because there is nothing else I can do but design and create.

Q: Complete this sentence: The future is female because…

A: It is time we were in charge of our own destinies, and stopped letting men dictate our opinions and lives. We need to empower our girls to have the confidence to speak their minds and let their opinions be heard from a young age.

Jody Levy

Entrepreneur, artist, designer, director, producer, educator and writer.

Jody Levy has always been a passionate and purposeful woman, not to mention persistent. When Levy has a vision, she sees it through. Founder of Stitch Experience Design + Assembly and most recently World Waters, which launched its first product WTRMLN WTR in 2013, both ventures focus on intention. And with investors such as Beyoncé behind her latest venture, you can be sure World Waters is intended for success.  A down-to-earth, woman maker and creator Levy is helping pave the way for a more sustainable and socially conscious future.

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Q: Where is home?

A: I am a global nomad. Home is in New York City but I flow through Detroit, Denver, LA and more.

Q: Mantra you live by?

A: Only This Moment Is Life.

Q: Favorite song of all time?

A: Carly Simon’s Let The River Run – from Working Girl. I know funny right.

Q: Last album you listened to

A: I listen to a lot of underground DJ sets. Right now I am into Satori, Be Svedson, Goldcap and more.  

Q: A woman you admire?

A: So many women I admire!! My sister Melissa Levy, Beyonce Knowles-Carter, Maya Angelou, Yoko Ono, Mary Wells Lawrence, the list goes on and on and on.

Q: ‘Other’ is about loving what makes you different.  It’s about being yourself. What’s ‘other’ about you?

A: I flow by my intuition and I trust that the universe provides. This keeps me in the realm of other in every possible way.

Q: Complete the sentence. When I wake up in the morning I -----

A: Try to see the sun rise, meditate and dip into gratitude. Then I drink my Bulletproof coffee and dive in!

Q: Best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Sometimes the best deals are those you walk away from. My dad John Levy.

Q: One thing not many people know about you? 

A: I am the softest most sensitive person you have ever met. ☺

Q: Your advice to an emerging maker?

A: Follow the things that make you feel like you can’t wait to wake up in the morning with ideas dripping from your fingertips!

Q: The time I nearly gave up…explain.

A: When I have too many plates spinning at once I fantasy about moving to a farm and living off the land. But I don’t give up.

Elena Brower

Yogi, spiritual speaker, mindful mama and author of "The Art of Attention"

Elena Brower is known internationally for her expertise in practices that help people approach the world in a more reverent way. Giving up has never been in her vocabulary and after overcoming addiction, Brower has channeled all her energy into helping everyone become their best self, through both meditation and yoga.

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Q: Where is home?

A: NYC but a piece of my heart is in Australia.

Q: Mantra you live by?

A: Forgive yourself again.

Q: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

A: Earnest. Caring. Studious.

Q: Favorite song of all time?

A: Right now it's Guru Ram Das by Guru Vir Kaur. Haunting and soothing all at once.

Q: Complete the sentence: I got my big break when…

A: Early on, my Mama told me I was beautiful and talented.

Q: Last album you listened to?

A: Ritual Mystical by East Forest and MC Yogi

Q: A woman you admire?

My best friend Ally Bogard.

Q: ‘Other’ is about loving what makes you different. It’s about being yourself. What’s ‘other’ about you?

A: I'm unafraid to share my journey in recovery.

Q: Complete the sentence. When I wake up in the morning I...

A: Snuggle up to my boys, move my body, then meditate.

Q: Best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Save at minimum 10% of everything you make.

Q: One thing not many people know about you?

A: I love tidying up public bathrooms.

Q: Your advice to an emerging maker?

A: Never stop making your art, your mark, your path.

Q: The time I nearly gave up?

A: I don't think that's ever happened.

Q: Complete this sentence: The future is female because…

A: Females are needed to have the dialogues, the babies and the circles.

Yasmin Green

Thinker, Doer, Head of Research & Development at Google's think tank "Jigsaw"

With one goal in mind - to make the internet a safer place around the world, Yasmin Green is eternally hopeful. Growing up in the age of trailblazing women, such as Margaret Thatcher, Yasmin Green was able to see women in power while becoming a powerful woman herself.

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Q: Where is home?
A: Where my husband is. When he's not on tour, that place is Brooklyn.

Q: Mantra you live by:
A: "Give a damn." (My friend Tennessee Thomas wrote the message on a shirt last year; perfect timing).

Q: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
A: Hopeful, compassionate, audacious.  

Q: Favorite song of all time
A: "I Love Trash" by Oscar The Grouch.

Q: Complete the sentence: I got my big break when…
A: I moved to New York to build the part of Google that builds technology to make people around the world safer.

Q: Last album you listened to
A: "Ape in Pink Marble" by Devendra Banhart

Q: A woman you admire?
A: Margaret Thatcher. Though she was not universally liked during her near decade-long reign as the Prime Minister of the UK, she was a female powerhouse in a field filled with deep prejudice. Because of her, I grew up seeing the highest office and strongest voice in the country be that of a woman.

Q: ‘Other’ is about loving what makes you different. It’s about being yourself. What’s ‘other’ about you?
A: I'm an Iranian British geopolitical techie raising a family with an American Jewish indie rocker husband. So I guess that.

Q: Complete the sentence. When I wake up in the morning I -- -- -
A: Yell back at my wailing progeny -- "I'm COOOOOOOMIING Zeba!!!" -- in the hope that she'll pipe down while I orient myself and behold a bold new day.

Q: Best advice you’ve ever been given
A: Gain credibility from direct experience. One recent example: If you're going to be an expert on online radicalization -- go to Iraq and interview ISIS.

Q: One thing not many people know about you
A: I was a shooting guard for the English Junior National Basketball Squad at 16.

Q: Your advice to an emerging maker
A: Don't ever say that you don't have time to do something. Don't think of time as something that escapes you or shortchanges you. Everyone's day contains the same amount of time. The only true reflection of your priorities is how you decide to spend your time.

Q: Complete this sentence: The future is female because…
A: The future won't be gendered.

Chelsea Leyland

DJ,  Actress,  Advocate and Influencer

Chelsea Leyland does it all.  Chelsea is just as strong as she is insightful,  attributing her heightened sense of empathy to her battle with epilepsy.  She discusses everything from staying grounded and surrounding herself with good people, to her morning ritual and advice for makers.  Read more about Chelsea below.

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Q: Where is home?
A: Brooklyn NY & London, England

Q: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
A: Passionate Fruit Cake

Q: Favorite song of all time?
A: “Bad Girl” by Lee Moses

Q: A woman you admire?
A: My female friends. Lily Kwong, Fernanda de la Puente and Tali Lennox. My girls inspire me through their creative work and how they support and ground me.

Q: What’s ‘other’ about you?
A: I have a heightened sensitivity which is both a blessing and a curse. I think it probably comes from having epilepsy and also having a sister who suffers from a very severe type of epilepsy. It has always been this struggle that makes me feel ‘other’ and ‘different’. I couldn’t have felt more out of place growing up, but with age I have realized it’s given me an easier path to empathy. I feel different but grateful for this.

Q: Complete the sentence. When I wake up in the morning...
A: I dance naked...

Q: Best advice you’ve ever been given
A: Go towards wise people, they don’t necessarily have to be intellectually intelligent, successful or famous but if they feel wise and grounded and nurture you, then those are the people who you want to surround yourself with. It’s about heading towards people who make you a better version of yourself, support you, and make you feel good.

Also try not to compare yourself physically, emotionally, career wise, or in any other way to others...we’re all on our own path. Let others inspire us.

Q: Your advice to an emerging maker.
A: Stay in your truth. Always follow your gut...this is your intuition. Try to stay grounded and surround yourself with good people, it's easy to get lost.

Q: Complete this sentence: The future is female because…
A: I believe that the future is everyone. The future is genderless. We need to stop separating ourselves from one another and see that we are all in fact one.