Skip to main content

Celebrating our "Old Bird* Role Models"

Inspiring women who've featured on The Shift podcast share the older women who motivate them (*That's Old Broad if you live in the States)

Clockwise from top left: Iris Apfel, Toni Morrison, Harriet Harman, Katharine Hepburn, Dolly Parton, Miriam Margolyes

Thank you for subscribing to The Shift. If you're already a paying member, thank you. Your support makes this newsletter and The Shift podcast possible. Paying members get weekly newsletters, culture round-ups, access to the community and the full archive, and more. All for less than the price of a (large) coffee a month. Prices will be going up at the end of April so, if you're interested, upgrade to paid now!

"My all-time role model, not just as an author but in life, was Toni Morrison. For me she's the most bad ass of bad ass women. I've sometimes compulsively watched interviews with her on Youtube because she handles people with such quick intelligence, but also there's a kind of confidence in herself that can't be feigned. She was supremely confident in herself and her abilities and who she was and she just did not suffer fools. She must have been incredibly special to have that when she did, at a time when there would have been no messages telling her that she was hot shit. That here was this black woman who was going to conquer the world of literature. It's a bit easier for black women now because we have Toni Morrison, but who did Toni Morrison have? She did it almost without example. And so I am in awe of and try to emulate that self-confidence that she had."
Sara Collins, author and scriptwriter of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

"Isabel Allende is my old bird, absolute queen, hero, who I wanna be when I get old. She changed my life. Interviewing her for Woman's Hour was one of the greatest gifts my career has given me. I was like, HELL YES! Her voice was ringing in the back of my head, speak your truth, nothing will change unless you tell it how it is. What did she say? 'Husbands are replaceable?' She's amazing."
Anita Rani, broadcaster and Chancellor of Bradford University

"I like Emma Thompson, she's just quietly subversive, she just says what she thinks and she seems to have a lot of humanity."
Kit de Waal, bestselling writer

"Joan Bakewell. She meant such a huge amount to me, growing up in the sixties and seeing a young woman, someone who was hosting intellectual programmes not cookery shows and more than holding her own. I met her recently and it was so lovely to be able to tell her that. I really meant it."
Caryn Franklin, fashion expert and diversity champion

To read the rest of this post you'll need to become a member of The Shift. Members help us fund our work to ensure we can stick around long-term.

become a member (Opens in a new window)

Topic long reads