In the panel “Breaking Barriers: Redefining the Status Quo of Your Industry,” retired gymnast and content creator Peng Peng Lee, actress Zyra Gorecki and DIY fashion influencer Mimi G discussed their careers, their identities and how each brought something new when they broke into their respective industries.
Journalist Charlotte Clymer moderated the conversation for TheWrap’s 2021 Power Women Summit, and started off by noting the challenges or obstacles the panelists overcame to achieve success.
“I’ve actually been homeless three times while I lived in Los Angeles,” Mimi G said. “I’ve been through a lot of trauma in my life as a kid and so sewing was always my safe place. It was therapy for me.”
She then explained how she found her niche. “I noticed that there were a lot of people still do sewing and blogging about crafts and you know home decor and children’s stuff but nobody was really doing like runway stuff like ‘Oh, I love Gucci but I can’t afford it but I can knock it off pretty good,’” Mimi G continued. “And so that’s sort of where I came in and I came in at a really good time. You know, I started really early in 2008 on YouTube, which really helped and it just really caught fire honestly and since then it’s just been one thing after the other.”
Clymer then turned to former Canadian Olympic gymnastic team captain, Peng Peng Lee, and asked her to recount her experience in gymnastics and beyond, particularly with a focus on mental health in sports. Lee explained that athletics is a tough space to talk about mental health because by nature, competition discourages anyone from showing weakness.
“I think when you’re out in the real world, you just got to listen to who you are,” she said. “And I think you being 100% yourself is what’s going to make you successful as a person and going to make you the happiest. … I definitely want to inspire young girls to just be, that they don’t have to be like me. I don’t have to be like anyone else as long as you are 100% true to yourself. Then that’s the best thing anyone could ask for.
Clymer asked Gorecki — who plays a leading role in the NBC sci fi drama “La Brea,” what it’s been like as a disabled person working in Hollywood.
“I never thought of myself as disabled,” she began.
“It was when I started doing interviews with everybody and they were like ‘Oh, did you know you were the first below knee amputee on a major network television show?’ and I was like, ‘I had no idea,’” she continued. “But it’s a really, really good feeling to be able to be the first one — not even the first one but to know that there’s going to be others after me — and to be able to, you know, be the test dummy basically and plow through, because I’m not afraid to talk about my leg, I’m not awkward about anything.”
Clymer, who is transgender, addressed the other side of the coin — which Mimi G later named as imposter syndrome — where the diversity of identity has not made itself as well known.
“I know that there are spaces I’m going to walk into where someone may not or may have never met a trans woman or they may not understand disability or they may not understand this, you know a woman from Central Texas,” Clymer said. “What is it like for y’all, right now? Do you still have those, I guess maybe brief moments of insecurity when you walk into certain spaces, and what do you do about that?”
“I grew up in a household of very strong women, and my mom has always taught us growing up ‘Everyone poops the same,’” Zyra answered. “It does not matter if you’re a millionaire. It does not matter what they have, what they don’t have. Doesn’t matter. They all poop the same. You’re just as good as them.”
The four women went on to discuss being role models, forging new paths in their professions, building confidence and more.
You can listen to the full conversation by clicking here.
The Power Women Summit is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The event aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s PWS provides three days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe – to promote this year’s theme, “Represent.”