As a writer – and heck, as a member of the female species – strong female characters in all forms of entertainment have always appealed to me.
From the Narrator who ran the entire show in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, to Joan Holloway-Harris and Betty Draper, to the latest happenings in the Kardashian world, there’s something about how women are written (and written about) that can invoke a strong gut reaction from other women.
Writers expose us to these ladies – some of them characters, some real humans – and whether they realize it or not, are able to band us together or tear us further apart. How many times have you cringed at the headline of US Weekly, or high fived yourself when your on-screen girl crush finally expresses herself eloquently and effectively? Whether they’re characters in a play or real-life women on the street, it’s the writers of the world who are able to convey their stories in a way that speaks to the rest of us.
When Kit Steinkellner gave me her answers to this WANT spotlight, I had to giggle (no pun intended, see two sentences from now). Because reading it, you’d never know the Grand-Canyon-wide breadth of success this woman has had and how much she is leading the way for the next wave of young artists – specifically, writers.
Kit is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, an editor at Hello Giggles (there it is), a webcomic author, and a writer on pretty much every site you probably already read and love. As a playwright/screenwriter, Kit has been applauded by New York Times, LA Times, LA Weekly, and Backstage for her work both Off-Broadway and here in Los Angeles – and as Hello Giggles’ weekend editor, she’s responsible for (what I believe to be) some of the most thought-provoking, girl-powered pieces on the site (saying a lot, since Hello Giggles is pretty much all women-are-awesome).
After a dozen-hundred times clicking on links that intrigued me and fist-pumping by the last line, I finally stopped being surprised by the fact that all my favorite pieces had Kit’s name in the byline; that it was Kit who giving the strong, positive voice to the issues we want to be talking about, as women and as humans. She’s looking at the world though a rose-colored lens, writing topically but never cynically, championing the women leading the way – and offering empathy towards the women who are just trying to figure it all out.
There are so many gems in this WANT Woman spotlight, but two in particular stood out to me: One, the genius negativity-busting tactic she and her husband use to crack a smile (I know I’ll be trying this one at home). Two, her unique take on judgement. I do think it’s in human nature to judge, even just a little, and we can’t ignore that impulse or berate ourselves for thinking we’re horrible people for doing so. But, as Kit so eloquently and succinctly expresses, we can take a solid look at exactly what we are judging in others and why. (there’s also the part about her booty, which is kind of the best side note ever.)
With every woman she writes or writes about, Kit speaks with a voice of aware compassion. She cheering the successes and pointing out role model material; she’s not ignoring the flaws and shortcomings but not tearing them down, either. Kit is telling the stories we want to hear, need to hear, and ultimately, are a little bit of our own, too.
Name: Kit Steinkellner
How you’d know me: Most people on the internet know me from Hello Giggles, where I am a staff writer and weekend editor.
What I love about myself: I try to be the things I most admire in other people: thoughtful, kind, driven, generous, daring, and resilient. I also think I have a pretty decent sense of humor, at least I make myself laugh. Plus, my butt belongs in a music video.
What is your definition of “positivity?” Believing that it’s possible to change your situation and that you are enough of a warrior princess to make it all happen for yourself. Reading inspirational quotes and going “Totally” instead of “Ugh.”
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When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love turning point? Oh man, I hate to say “It was a man” because that goes against a lot of what I– whatever, that’s what happened, I met my now-husband and he thought I was so great and I thought he was so smart, and if he was smart and he thought I was great… I just decided to go with the math and start thinking I was great.
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Basically what’ll happen is I’ll be with someone who’s insecure about their body/career/whatever, and they’ll start giving a voice to those freaked out monsters and rope me in and try to turn it into a self-loathing jamboree, because misery loves company. It’s usually someone looking for validation or a place to vent, which makes sense…but insecurity is so contagious. They really need to invent a flu shot for that.
When I talk negatively about myself it’s usually because… I think that’s what the outside world is thinking about me and I want to say it first so it doesn’t sound like I’m oblivious to my many failings.
It baffles me that women still: Undermine each other and look at one another as competition (if not outright enemies) as opposed to members of the same team. We’re a sisterhood! We have to act like it!
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I wish that more women… judged other women harshly for not being kind and generous instead of what we do judge women for: image stuff, relationship stuff, baby stuff. Can you imagine what it would be like if we put the peer pressure on other women to just be better people? We’d save the human race.
My top female role models: My mom and my sister, always and forever. And all the lady writers I’m obsessed with: Cheryl Strayed, Joan Didion, Anne Lamott, Mary Karr in print, Shonda Rhimes, Jenji Kohan, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling making it happen on TV.
Favorite negativity-busting activity: Sleep. No joke, EVERYTHING is better after a good night’s sleep or a nap. Also buying myself presents. Also making someone that loves me (usually my husband) say nice things to me; I’ll give him a number like 3 or 5 and he’ll have to say that many nice things about me (I totally do this for him, too). Not only is it really awesome hearing someone say nice things about you, but the whole idea of forcing someone to give you compliments is so ridiculous you just end up laughing about the whole thing for like an hour and then you’re like “Wait, what was I feeling bad about again? F—, I can’t remember. Oh well, what’s on Netflix?”
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Favorite self-love ritual: Going to a bookstore/the movies/ the theater, and giving myself the gift of great art.
Favorite movies to watch when I feel down: Anything I liked when I was, like, twelve years old: Never Been Kissed, Titanic, Ever After, 13 Going On 30 (that came out a little later, but whatevs)
Favorite empowering books: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed taught me everything I know. Also The Velveteen Rabbit.
Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: Someday you will grow up and then you will be able to eat all the cake batter you wish, so be patient, your time will come.
…14 year old self: All your future friends are having a really rough time right now soon, stay strong and wait a decade, your group is waiting for you.
…24 year old self: You don’t need to be a wunderkind. You need to be a good person. Stop stressing about your career and start stressing about being a worthy member of the human race.
5 things on my bucket list:
1.) Have a job where I get to be the boss and I employ all my friends
2.) Have lots of international adventures
3.) Make a big, splashy, worthy contribution to the world of art and storytelling
4.) Be a known art yente who makes lots of awesome creative-world matches (and I would be TOTALLY cool with being responsible for a couple of weddings to boot)
5.) Dye my hair more colors.
Right now I am most excited about: Art and adventures, always art and adventures.
My body is: so awesome, it is keeping me alive right now – thank you!
Three words to describe myself: fragile and unbreakable
Current mantra: “Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E, Plan F, Plan G…”
Find Kit on Twitter at @booksaremybfs
Who are the women, real or fictional, you admire but have only read about?
(or, in the case of characters in TV shows and movies, watched onscreen?)
What about the way they’ve been written, or written about, makes you love them?