DARE TO BE YOU – Interview with Marianne Schnall

Author and activist Marianne Schnall has a new book out, DARE TO BE YOU. It’s a collection of motivational quotes from some of the amazing, trailblazing women she’s interviewed over the years …  an impressive list of people. I had a chance to interview Marianne recently about her book and her hopes for empowering young women coming into their own.

Dare to be You

Interview with Marianne Schnall

HMC: DARE TO BE YOU is such a lovely collection of quotes – almost like a daily affirmation book. Is that how you intended it to be used? If not, what was your vision?

MS: I love the idea that the book could be used as a daily affirmation book! It most certainly can be used that way – there are so many potent messages in the book that may resonate with readers for different reasons. My vision is that this book and its content would be used in whatever ways best serve those who read it – to find guidance, insight, encouragement and inspiration.

HMC: What’s the origin story for this book?

MS: I always knew I wanted to do a focused book for girls because so much of our sense of who we are, our self esteem, our development of our voice and our vision for ourselves happens early on. There are so  many harmful messages routinely hurled at girls from our society and the media, I wanted to help counteract those messages with some positive ones! More than ever we need women and girls to come into their true selves and power, to be emboldened to follow their dreams and callings, to be leaders and enact their influence and creativity in the world – both for their benefit and the benefit of the world around them.

Quotes from Personal Interviews

HMC: Do all of the quotes in this book come from women you’ve interview personally?

Yes, all of the quotes are from the wide range of incredible women I have had the good fortune to interview over the past two decades who span different backgrounds, industries, and perspectives. From Oprah to Melinda Gates, Natalie Portman to Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou to Anita Hill and so many more. I have spoken to so many amazing women who all have so much life wisdom to share – not only from their accomplishments, but in all the challenges and hurdles they had to overcome.

HMC: Any favorite stories from an interview you did for this book?

MS: There are so many it is hard to single any out! Gloria Steinem is someone I have learned a lot from through our many interviews, but she is also an important personal mentor to me. Whether reminding me to “ask for what I need,” or to take a pause now and then to acknowledge and own my accomplishments, Gloria has shared many wise insights with me in our conversations and interviews. She is someone who I have always admired for her trailblazing work, for her inclusive leadership, for her generosity of spirit, for her humor and curiosity, and for her tireless and fearless commitment to making the world a better place for all. And she is still doing it!

On Feminism

HMC: I loved the section on “Understanding Feminism.” It’s amazing to me that in this day and age, it’s such a loaded term. Are we still so embroiled in old stereotypes of the angry bra-burning woman that we can’t all embrace the concept without fear of reprisal?

MS: There are still so many misconceptions about what feminism is, but I do think the concept is being more widely embraced in a more mainstream way by women, and increasingly by men who realize that they too benefit from gender equality. It is hard to take issue with the dictionary definition of feminism which is quite simply, “the political, social and economic equality of the sexes.” I also think as the movement evolves to become more inclusive and intersectional with other identities and movements, more and more people are feeling like they can align with its objectives and values.

(For another look at evolving attitudes toward strong girls and the power of words to shape attitudes, read this post from MUF contributor Mike Hays)

Dare to be You

HMC: Your sections on women seeing themselves as leaders and resisting negative media messages is also a powerful statement in this election season. The idea of the “unlikeable” woman candidate is frustrating… were there any “outakes” you can share with us from your interviews that touched on this subject?

MS: Yes, a lot of people I interviewed talked about this – about the conundrum of powerful, confident, ambitious women being deemed as “unlikeable.”.This is certainly a sexist bias we need to watch for and change. But as Gloria Steinem reminded me in one of our conversations, women need to also not be as dependent on being liked. It is hard to be an effective leader if you worry too much about other people’s perceptions.

Finding Inspiration

HMC: Any other thoughts or hopes you have for this book you can share with our readers?

MS: My hope is that the book will encourage girls and women, and all those who read it, to fully embrace who they are, celebrate what it is that makes them unique and special rather than thinking they need to fit in or conform, and find the inspiration and support to follow their dreams, use their voices, and fulfill the vision they have for themselves and for the world.

HMC: What part of this book resonated most with you?

MS: I grew up as a very insecure teenage girl, and having two daughters of my own now, I see so much progress in their ability to know themselves and resist the disempowering influences they receive from society and the media. I feel very hopeful that we are living through a time where women and girls are rising up as a potent force to help transform the world in all kinds of necessary, beneficial and important ways. What resonates most for me is thinking about how the world would change if we unleash all of that untapped potential!

author marianne schnall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer whose work has appeared in a variety of media outlets including O, The Oprah Magazine, TIME.com, Forbes, CNN.com, Refinery29, the Women’s Media Center, HuffPost, and many others. Schnall is the founder of Feminist.com, a leading women’s website and nonprofit organization and WhatWillItTake.com, a media and event platform that engages women everywhere to advance in all levels of leadership and take action. She is the author of What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?, Daring to Be Ourselves, Leading the Way, and Dare to Be You.

Connect with Marianne

Find Marianne here: www.marianneschnall.com ▪ feminist.com ▪ whatwillittake.com

And here: @marianneschnall

To buy a copy of Marianne’s book, click here.

Heather Murphy Capps
Heather Murphy Capps has always had a deep appreciation for comfort and elegance. She and Claudia would have run out of money quickly together but would absolutely have been on the same page about taxis and nice restaurants. And of course, solving mysteries about beautiful art. That said, Heather also appreciates Jamie’s love of complication, which is why she spent several years living in rural Kenya and then became a television news reporter, which involved standing for hours in the middle of hurricanes and political battles. Now she’s raising middle-grade readers and writing for them. She loves to read and write books with lots of great science, magic, mystery, and adventure. Heather is the communications coordinator for Mixed-Up Files, as well as creator/curator for our We Need Diverse MG series. She is committed to creating more diversity in publishing.