Sarah Cooper and Michelle Buteau aren’t sisters but they might as well be. During BlogHer’s Winning Women Black History Month series, the multi-hyphenates discovered they have a scary amount of things in common. Besides their nearly identical headshots, both ladies are Jamaican (and exhausted with the “you don’t look Jamaican” comments), published authors, and stars of their respective Netflix specials. Many would also agree that they’re doing groundbreaking work as creatives.
“Creating content…always comes from if you don’t see yourself, make space for yourself,” said Buteau. “I didn’t see myself in a lot of places. I wanted to be an entertainment reporter. I had a professor tell me I was too fat to be on-camera…Realizing I’m enough, just sitting here and being myself, is a huge thing I have to remind myself of every single day.”
Similarly, Cooper was also told by she didn’t have an acceptable Hollywood “look.” And though she’s nurtured a bevy of talents over the years—cartooning, blogging, and improv, to name a few—it was the motivation behind her now-iconic Trump impersonations that led to her biggest professional breakthrough.
“Sometimes the loudest people who have the most confidence don’t actually have anything to back it up…I wish I could get away with that,” she said. “This idea that you can be just brash and loud and say absolutely nothing and have absolutely no expertise whatsoever; no talent and just through sheer force of will, get this huge platform. I want people who are actually talented to have that kind of confidence.”
“The thing that really made me put myself out there was that question of, if I don’t do this, then there won’t be someone like me up there. Sometimes if you don’t see yourself, maybe it has to be you. You need to take that chance and you can inspire someone else.”
If you missed this meeting of two brilliant (and hilarious!) minds, replay the inspiring convo above and remember that no matter your purpose, getting started is the most important part!
This month, we’re hosting Winning Women, a weekly virtual celebration of groundbreaking Black female creators you know and love. Register for free admission.
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Sarah Cooper on the Easiest and Hardest Parts of Content Creation
“I have so many ideas. Doing them is what’s hard. I think eventually I do wanna just be a producer because I have so many things I want to see done but I don’t have the energy to do them…I think the reason [Everything’s Fine] came out well was because of the sheer force of will of Natasha Lyonne and Maya Rudolph because they are so amazing to work with. But I was writing and throwing things out right until the last second. That’s not a way to shoot a special at all. I wanted it to be a lot bigger than it ended up being so I learned a lot from that experience.”
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Michelle Buteau on Confidence
“It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done. Some of my most talented friends will just talk themselves into a corner and never show anything they’ve done. There are basic people walking around here getting deals, making money. I used to produce those people thinking, ‘why am I giving my shine away?'”
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