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The Guilty Feminist's Deborah Frances-White praises Dame Emma Thompson's acts of kindness

Deborah Frances-White also champions how to be an effective ally at work

deborah frances white
8 March 2023
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Host of the award-winning podcast, The Guilty Feminist, comedian and writer Deborah France-White has an incredibly inclusive and no-holds-bar approach to discussing the nuances of modern feminism.

Citing the likes of Emma Thompson and Lizzo as her favourite inspirational women, the star exclusively chatted with HELLO! to discuss the importance of her female friendships, how to effectively be an ally at work as well as her own exciting projects, including her upcoming play Never Have I Ever.

deborah frances white and emma thompson

Emma has been a guest on The Guilty Feminist 

Deborah is dedicated to creating a space for women to feel validated as well as being an ambassador for charities Choose Love and Amnesty International, therefore she is the perfect candidate to give her thoughts and advice as International Women's Day approaches…

Who are the most inspirational women in your life?

"I would say the most inspirational women in my life are Emma Thompson, Susan Wokoma, Juliet Stevenson, Josie Naughton and Sindhu Vee.

"Emma Thompson really cares about women and she's Dame Emma Thompson, she's incredible. I don't need to tell you how incredible Emma Thompson but she really cares behind the scenes.

"She does a lot of stuff that no one would ever know about, because she really does care about women who are trying to do something. She worries that you might be too tired.

"When you interview her on stage or if she is offstage, she is pretty identical and there's an authenticity there, she's been successful for so long. That's her onstage offstage persona in terms of herself, obviously, she's a brilliant comedian actress, but she brings an authenticity to whatever she does.

deborah frances white susan wokoma

Susan has starred in Enola Holmes 2 and Channel 4's Chewing Gum

"She has been on The Guilty Feminist a few times with me and each time it has been a joy and a wonder, she's an absolute phenomenon. 

"Josie Naughton runs to Choose Love, which has saved countless lives across the world for refugees.

"Juliet Stevenson is a fellow Amnesty International ambassador. If I'm gonna get a  petition at two o'clock in the morning for something urgent, it's going be from Juliet Stevenson who apparently never stops. She's an incredible actress, her projects seem to all have a point, but she really does care, she's really hands on about her activism."


Lizzo is passionate about self-love 

"Susan Wokoma is an inspiration, she does a lot of co-hosting on The Guilty Feminist with me, she's a brilliant actress, she also writes her own stuff and she's just got a light and a charisma and energy and a drive about her.

"She's a very particular embodiment of womanhood that I think is something special and she's also in my play at Chichester, which I'm very excited about called Never Have I Ever in September.

never have I ever

Deborah's first play Never Have I Ever will feature at the Chichester Festival Theatre in September

"Sindhu Vee went back into comedy in midlife, she was in my independent film, that was her first acting role and she's now a movie star,  whatever she turns her hand to, she just is able to do. An example of a very devoted mother to three children while also being an absolute powerhouse in her career. There is this whole thing about women and we have to have it all, but it's more that she intertwines those two, in a very interesting, iconic way. Lizzo certainly stands out for me now."

How important are your female friendships?

They are extremely important to me and without my close female friendships I would not be able to continue The Guilty Feminist, I would not be able to do the things that I do in my emotional and personal life or in my public and professional life. Plugging into my female friendships and both giving and receiving in terms of energy, advice, emotional support, fun, play, laughter is the fuel that keeps me going.

deborah presenting guilty feminst

Deborah also hosts the podcast Global Pillage 

So what is your advice to nurturing those relationships?

"Everyone's so busy now and it does need time and I think we tend to be very reactive now, it's like what's on our phone? So what have I just seen what can I respond to? I think limiting yourself to an hour a day to react to things and then whatever you decide your limit per day and [ask yourself], what proactively would I like to do? Who haven't I seen for a while? Who haven't I reached out to who can I send a card to?

deborah frances white microhpone

The star also wrote 2018 comedy film Say My Name 

"Reaching out to somebody you haven't heard from for a while and checking in with them inviting them to meet up for no reason except I want to connect, I want to engage and I want to hear how you are. We're all so busy that were so that we get into this role of responding and I think I don't want to be on my deathbed thinking I responded really well, I got back to everyone, I reacted. I want to be there thinking there are the connections I've made, this is what I created. We think of creating as screenplays and jars of jam, but it's also the connections we have made over the years.

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"I don't have children and sometimes doing something with a friend's child or children that I know I mean a lot to that child because they will remember that forever and it might be a small thing, but it will mean a lot to that child. It's formative, and where there are girls in my life who are not yet women, taking that time to find out who they are and what they might like to do I think can just be a wonderful thing.

deborah frances white on stage

The star is also an author and a screenwriter 

"So I think there's all sorts of ways of investing in our friends and their children and it's sometimes it can be half an hour, it can be five minutes. It can be a text checking in, but I think those are the things that yield really incredible fruit as we go over."

What are your tips on empowering yourself and other women in the workplace?

"Include yourself and include others. Assume inclusion. Walk into rooms as if you're meant to be there and, notice start to be curious as to the way you physical eyes when you're with your closest friends, you see your friends in the pub and look at, look at how open your body language is. Look at how often you speak.

View post on Instagram

The star is currently amid a string of live shows with The Guilty Feminist

"Look at how much you smile and then try and replicate those physical behaviours in a work environment. You send your brain a message if you're open, if you're smiling, if you're contributing, if you're leaning forward, if you're happy to listen to others and really listen to what they're saying rather than sitting there panicking, thinking I've got to say something, is what I'm saying clever enough? Which is something you don't sit there and think about when you're with your close friends, if you take on those behaviours, your brain gets the message, 'Oh, I'm happy and comfortable here.'

"The other thing to do is to say, 'Okay, who's not speaking up in this meeting? Who haven't been heard from and include them?' And get that person talking because once you're the includer you will seem included."

How can people become good allies?

"Ask questions and listen, it's always useful to check in and see what support is needed but I would think support rather than help and ask questions and engage. Also see if that information is already out there as that person spoken about it before, is there stuff online?"

"But the rule is to offer support and engagement rather than help. Can you support and is your support wanted or needed? And if it isn't, where could it be better directed rather than kind of slipping and going, 'Oh, I'll help here because it may be that that's not what I wanted or required.'"

Deborah's first-ever play Never Have I Ever is playing at Chichester Festival Theatre in September. The plot follows four friends as they tackle themes of cash, class, identity, and infidelity in an "explosive, savagely funny" production. Book tickets here.


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You can also catch Deborah and a host of sensational guests at the King's Theatre for The Guilty Feminist Live. Book tickets here.

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