People 30 July 2017
When I headed out the door of my East Village apartment to meet Mandy Moore at the Crosby Hotel in late June, I took two important items with me: my headphones and a picture of my "aura." After reading about Moore having her aura read, I couldn't wait to talk to her about my own adventures in new-age discoveries (spoiler: she's into crystals right now), especially since my mom is an astrologer.
As for the headphones? I hate to admit it, but I listened to "Candy" on the way to the interview, relishing singing along to one of my favorite songs from my middle school era. Needless to say, though, after chatting with Moore, it's evident how far she's come since those pop ballad days. In fact, I was thoroughly impressed with how openly and unapologetically optimistic she is, as well as how intelligent she was.
As her career continues to flourish with her title role in the Golden Globe-nominated show, This is Us, Moore talked to SWAAY about what she's learned over her multi-decade show, and what's next for this inspiring female:
On What She Wish She Had Done When She Was Younger
Moore has always known one thing for certain: she was meant for the stage. She's often credited her British grandmother, who was a professional ballerina in London, for opening her eyes to the life of performance. She told Billboard magazine that her parents thought she'd outgrow the desire to be an actress or singer, like most young girls do, but she stuck with it. Her big break was delivered quite serendipitously when she was 13, when a FedEx delivery man heard her singing while she was at a studio in Orlando, Florida. He was so enthralled with her vocals that he personally delivered her unfinished demo to a friend at A&R at Epic Records. Fate was on her side - she signed with the label shortly after and her first hit song, "Candy," became my go-to pre-teen jam.
Since then, Moore has explored everything from acting in romantic comedies to even briefly running her own fashion label, Mblem, from 2005 to 2009. But while she's kept busy and unarguably built an inspiring, successful career for herself, when she looks back, she's grateful, but also sees some of the fun she missed along the way.
“I wish that I had really taken advantage of being young. I think that I said 'no' too often, whether it was being in a new city or [saying] 'Nah, I'm just going to get some sleep and not go out with my friends to see a band or explore" she says.
“I think I sometimes took my life a little too seriously, so I would tell my younger version of Mandy to just take a deep breath and enjoy how life is unfolding in front of you."
Even though she might have missed out on some beers abroad or getting lost in a new city at night, Moore's life has unfolded in many unexpectedly beautiful ways. As she's continued to explore different roles, even playing a wife and mother for the first time on This Is Us, she's aligned herself with causes and campaigns that speak to her interest, beliefs and of course, for this heartfelt powerhouse, to her soul.
On Why This Campaign Means Something to Her
While Moore wants to become a mother one day, right now she's focusing more on her career and exploring those avenues before diving diaper-first into motherhood. Because she's aware of her own timeline and the important choices she's lucky to have for her own health, she wants other women to feel empowered to make the same choices, for wherever they happen to be in their lives.That's why she recently joined the "Her Life. Her Adventures" campaign, which is shedding much-needed attention on breaking the stereotypes on birth control, fertility and family planning. “Every woman has her own unique story. She has her own unique journey. She has her own sense of adventure, and what adventure means to her," she shares. “[This campaign] is all encompassing women's health, and specifically around family planning and birth control but the educational awareness component of this campaign really resonates with me. I think it's an important conversation worth having and highlighting. I'm super excited to use this platform that I have to continue this dialogue."
On Allowing Herself to Feel Deeply
Even for female entrepreneurs who breathe, live and devour every second of their budding businesses, being on top of your game every day is an unreasonable demand. With Moore's hectic schedule, she's learned to accept that not every day will feel sunny side up, and instead, she gives herself breathing room to feel whatever she's feeling, sans judgement. “I try to look at the bigger picture and take each day one day at a time. Also, to allow myself to feel my feelings and not get down on myself for having a bad day or feeling blue about something. It's part of the human condition," she says. “I try to remind myself to not get down on myself and that tomorrow's a new day and you're not going to live in an endless cycle of feeling down."
On Therapy and Why It's Important
Ask any famed entrepreneur and they will likely credit soul searching as a key detour on their path to profitability or funding. Not only is being self-aware an important lesson in becoming an adult, but it can help you value the sheer strength that comes from asking for help when you need it. For Moore, who has been in and out of talk therapy for more than a decade, giving herself permission to chat it out has been a pivotal routine of her continued career. “The sessions where I don't go in with something in mind, like this is something I'm going to tackle in therapy today, are usually the most beneficial sessions. Something comes to light that I had no idea I was thinking about or that was a problem or something that's so packed away or compartmentalized," she explains. “I know it's something I'll continue to do in perpetuity, in fits and spurts."
On the Female Entrepreneurs She Champions
Though Moore did run her own fashion label for a few years, she has no future plans of starting another company and instead says she's “happy being a consumer and a fan of a lot of things out there in the marketplace." That doesn't mean she's not still paying attention to the smart female entrepreneurs who are making waves in her local community, though. One of her friends owns a group of nail salons in Los Angeles called Olive and June, where Moore is a frequent, supportive customer. She's also impressed with Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power, who founded WhoWhatWear, or what's now CMG Clique Media Group Inc. In fact, she calls them "total badasses."
She also continues to keep a pulse on style, commenting, “There are a lot of incredible women out there doing remarkable things and changing the machine of the fashion world."
Mandy Moore at DGA Awards
On How There Was Never a Plan B
So what would Moore be doing if she wasn't an actress? A good question, according to Moore, who says she doesn't have the skillset to do anything else. She laughed, saying she'd probably be unemployed. “I used to think I would want to go into journalism but now that I've been on the other side of it, it's a really daunting job. I don't know if I would be cut out for that. It's too high stress for me. I may have gone into the blogosphere and become a blogger," she shares.
But since she's been in the game for so long, the thought of another industry hasn't crossed her mind. “From the age of six, I knew I wanted to do this in some capacity and I always thought I would end up on Broadway. I've had a one-track mind and there's been no plan b."
On The Best Career Advice She Was Given
Over the years, everyone from mentors and fellow colleagues have given their words of wisdom, shaping her viewpoint along the way. And while Moore has admired many actors and professionals throughout her career, it was her father who made the greatest impact on her decision-making skills. “My dad has always told me, 'If there's any doubt, don't.' I try to think about that, because the few times that I've ignored my gut in life, it's gotten me into trouble or landed me in an uncomfortable position. Respect my intuition and trust that," she explains.
On Taking a Leap Of Faith
When you take that first step off the ledge into the unknown, giving up your job and sinking your savings into a business idea you're not sure will stand the test of the market, it's an exciting yet daunting experience. While Moore says there isn't a single moment that stands out as her "leap of faith" - she argues that really, all of it was risky. And that blind ambition and unparalleled courage is something she wishes she could bottle up again.
“I think back now and there's no way that if I had the fear I have at 33, I'd have the guts to do this as a 15-year-old. Not to pat myself on the back, but there's clarity and wisdom that comes with age. I can't imagine the guts I had as a kid to get on stage in front of 20,000 people. I didn't even think about it. It didn't even register. I was just like, 'Great, Cool. Where do I go? Where's my microphone?' I was hosting MTV shows. The fearlessness that came along with being a young person, I don't know if I have that same level of fearlessness now. I try to tap into it when need be," she says.
Even so, on the good and bad days, and every kind of day in-between, it's that same optimistic courage that keeps her going. “I try to have perspective and think about the bigger picture, and realize I'm really lucky to have a job that I'm passionate about 99 percent of the time. The 1 percent is okay. I'll take the good with the bad."
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.