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The Conversation With Amanda De Cadenet Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Amanda De Cadenet

This is an interview with Amanda De Cadenet on April 19, 2012 about the show The Conversation With Amanda De Cadenet.

Question:
I see you have a very, very wide range of guests that you've had on so far. Of all of these people which was the most interesting for you?

Amanda De Cadenet:
I can't single out one woman because every single woman I left learning something about them and just feeling grateful to have interviewed them. So I can't single out one person I've got to say. If I can tell you that the only person I was nervous to interview because she's such a role model for me, personally is Jane Fonda. I was nervous, but she was, I must say, an incredible, incredible giving generous interview.

Question:
Of all the topics that you've talked about on the show which would you say has had the biggest reaction?

Amanda De Cadenet:
I will say that the sex question definitely has the biggest response. People either say, ???I'm not answering that,??? or they say, ???Really???? or they answer it. That's the one that people are the most surprised by, I guess.

Question:
Being a mother, how do you feel that you're interviewing technique differs when you're speaking to other mothers?

Amanda De Cadenet:
I have to say that I love moms. I've been a mom since I was 19 years old. I was very much a teen mom. I have the most compassion and time for women who are mothers. So I know what a joyful and often challenging combination of emotions it is being a mom. So when I meet someone who's a mother, they're automatically a kindred spirit because you know the plight of motherhood. I think I probably am a lot more patient and tolerant with women who are moms because I know that they're probably tired and a little stressed out. Their time is really valuable. A mom has so many things to do in her day. The last thing to do is something for herself.

So, I know that. I'm a working mom and I manage to shoot my show in the hours that my kids were at school. I shot it from my house so that I would available in case of emergencies for my kids. My life is very much built around my kids. So being a mother is a big deal for me. I have 5-year-old twins and I have a 20-year-old, so I loved my mom friends.

When I meet a woman who is a mom I always have questions because I'm curious how other moms are juggling it all, which is a big topic on The Conversation as well, actually. Is how do we take care of ourselves so that we're not cranky and stressed out and we're actually better mothers for our kids. One of the things that I realize it is actually taking a little bit of time for myself goes a long way in my ability to parent.

Question:
I did see a snippet of your conversation with Kelly. How hard was it to ask her the questions about her son's passing?

Amanda De Cadenet:
It was difficult. Kelly had not spoken publicly about her son Jett dying. Even down to choosing the words, like do you say passing? Do you say dying? What do you say? It was one of the most powerful experiences I've had interviewing anybody to sit with a woman who has experienced what as a mother is our ultimate fear. She's experienced it and to hear her story was???I'm forever changed. I was not the same woman when I got up from that interview. When you see the interview, you'll see what I'm talking about. It just gets you in your heart.

She came to my opening the other night. We had a launch party and she came. I feel like I know her in a very intimate way now because of sharing that experience with her. I have so much love for her. Again, I have so much love for her because of what she lived through. You cannot help but love that woman, as a mom, and this is a woman.

Question:
Who would you like to interview that you haven't interviewed thus far and why?

Amanda De Cadenet:
I'd like to interview Hillary Clinton. I'd like to interview Michelle Obama. I want to know how women in politics manage their lives. I think I'm scheduled. I think I'm juggling a lot with three kids and a job and a partner. I do not even know how women who are politicians do it. I'm really, really curious. So I would love to talk to them and find out like how they have time to do it all. Maybe they're not doing it all. I don't think any woman's doing it at all. I think we do what we can and the rest we get to tomorrow and the rest we get to the day after that, but I'd just love to know.

Question:
Being a mom, what's one thing that you would like to make sure that your children know about you?

Amanda De Cadenet:
I think there's a lot I want my kids to know about me. I think the most important thing is???I have five-year-old twins. I have a boy and a girl. I think it's really important that my boy learn how to treat women with respect and dignity and kindness. I think it's important that my daughter be able to see her mother as someone who is her mom and is???my primary role in life is I'm her mom, but second of all, as a woman who is a businesswoman.

I run my business. I'm self-supporting. My job is what contributes to paying for her school fees. I'm not reliant on her dad to pay for our house and buy her clothes. I hope that they see that I'm somebody who's a balanced woman, someone who's kind and thoughtful but also teaching them boundaries and teaching them alternatives when they go wrong. Of course, I don't know how to do this perfectly. I'm just winging it and learning as I go. Because anybody who fronts like they got it down is not get telling you the truth. Nobody does.

Question:
They have a staff.

Amanda De Cadenet:
By the way, even if you have a staff???right, because there's no way I could have made my show from my living room if I did not have childcare. There's no way. My crew would show up at 7 a.m. in the morning and my kids were in their PJs. They'd be sitting at the breakfast counter. I take them to school every day. I take them four days a week, let's say, because I can't pick them up necessarily because I might be working.

So if I didn't have childcare I could not have done that. I'm really grateful for the woman who takes care of my kids???picks them up from school???because I wouldn't be able to do my job otherwise. But even with having childcare, to be a present mom???you've got a do it. You've got to read them the stories. You have to bathe them. You've got to spend time with them. You've got to know them. You've got to hang out with them.

The biggest loss comes, for me, with working moms who have to choose whether to work???it's not a choice. You have to work to take care of your kids if you don't have anyone else giving you money. To me, the lack of childcare and the lack of support for working mothers???it just deeply saddens me.

Question:
I just watched a couple of your snippets of your conversations and I think that the way you connect with people is so wonderful. Do you do things in your community or with your children that help others to pay it forward?

Amanda De Cadenet:
Oh yes. Listen, I believe in a life of service. So actually, why I did this show in the first place is???I'm a photographer. I've been a photographer for 15 years. I love photography. That's what I was doing. Then, I realized that I couldn't find???after I had my kids and I had really bad postpartum depression, I couldn't find any role models that I could identify with. All I saw was women saying, ???Yes. I lost all my baby weight within two weeks and I make three meals a day and I have sex with my husband every day and I go to work every day and it's all great.??? And I was like wait a second; I could barely get out of bed here. I'm breastfeeding twins. I'm taking pictures. I'm not functioning. I'm just feeling I'm a terrible woman.

That's what why I came up with the show because I realized that if I was feeling like this that there had to be countless other women who were also comparing themselves to the role models we have in the media and feeling like they were failing. So, I felt like wait a second, I have to make this because I don't see it anywhere. I need to find women who will talk about the reality of being a woman today???honestly and openly and in a solutions format so that we're not comparing ourselves to the unrealistic. So, I honestly, feel like I made this thing because I really want other women to be able to look at it and say, ???Oh, thank God, me to.???

So I teach my kids a lot about gratitude. I'll tell you some of the practical things we do. Every time they get a toy, they have to give one away. So, the way I do that is we've given it to different places. We sponsored some children in Afghanistan???when the war in Afghanistan first started and my babies were months old and they had no idea, but I picked a girl to sponsor a girl in my daughter's name and a boy in my son's name. So they'd send pictures of the kids. I would show my kids and explain to them these kids live in a country where this is going on and they don't have parents. They're orphans and this is how it has happened to them. I would explain to them about these kids and so we would send toys. We would collect toys for each of these kids and send them.

I don't know if they ever got there. I doubt they did, but the important part is that, for me, I felt like I was teaching my kids from an early age that they are really lucky that they have a roof over their head and that they have toys and they have healthy food and that they have parents. So that's one of the things that I've continued to do. Then they do little things like they raise money. When there was a tsunami they gave their money to Japan and they opened their piggy banks. They raise money. They baked cookies and made some pretty bad tasting popsicles, but sold them nonetheless.

Question:
I think having a show where women can be honest and women that the normal person aspires to be like and they're sitting on your couch and their like, ???Yes. I'm totally not what you think I am. This is who I actually am,??? will do a lot for women in general. I think in society we currently have the prettiest, the best, the thinnest. Well there's like two of those women, right, in the world. So what about the rest of us?

Amanda De Cadenet:
Yes. I couldn't agree with you more. By the way, that's an issue that I address a lot. It's like why are women so competitive with one another? Unfortunately, we have media that trains us to compete. We have shows like The Bachelor where you've got one guy that most people wouldn't go out with in their right mind anyway and 100 women who are competing with one another. To go out with a guy that doesn't have the castle, as Sarah Silverman said, the producers rented the castle for him to pretend it's his.

Question:
Even if he had the castle would you date half of them, seriously?

Amanda De Cadenet:
No. Then you've got women???there's not room for only one of us, you know what I mean? We can all win. By the way, if we actually get together and say, ???Right. What have you got? What can you bring to the table? I can bring this. Okay, what can you do? I can bring this.??? If we actually get together and like support one another we're going to get so far. I think it scares people how much women could do if we actually got together and supported one another instead of pulling each other down. The Conversation is really about women supporting each other and that's what I truly believe has been the saving grace for me in my life.

Question:
How are you able to build a certain level of trust in order to get the women to talk to you candidly?

Amanda De Cadenet:
First of all, I'm a woman, so a woman talking to a woman is a certain kind of conversation. Second of all, I really collaborated with my guests. I ask people what it was they want to talk about. I said is there anything you don't want to talk about. I very much was there to create a space that allowed for these truthful stories.

Because I shot it at my home, I was able to control the environment so it was a very relaxed environment. This is a non-promotional show so nobody comes on the show to promote something. In fact, we don't let them come on if they want to promote something because that's not what it's about. So the person is coming there with the intention of taking part in something that they hope will be inspirational and give hope to somebody. That's a very different intention than going somewhere to plug something.

Question:
What did you learn about how women handle obstacles in their lives and what it takes to be emotionally strong in such a competitive industry?

Amanda De Cadenet:
Well, I don't even know if it's about being in a competitive industry. I interview woman who are not in any specific industry as well as women who are in the entertainment industry. I interview politicians and authors and then every day ladies, but what I will tell you is that women process life through conversation. That's how we deal. We talk about it.

Even when I watch my kids in the playground???like my boy will go off and bang the tree with a stick by himself. My girl will go and sit and talk with some kids, some girls, about something. Women process through conversation. We also do really well with community. A woman without a community is in trouble. I very much believe in, sort of, finding your tribe.

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