Soprano opera singer Laura Wright answers our ‘what it means to be a woman in 2018’ Q&A, to mark 100 years of suffrage; the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed on 6 February 1918.
Opera Singer Laura Wright’s Q&A
It’s been 100 years since (some) women were granted the right to vote in the UK – how far do you think women have come in the last century?
I don’t think you want to say we haven’t come as far as we can. But I do believe there’s a lot more that can happen and should change. It was only the 90th Oscars the other night and there was that pay difference between Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg – I think you look at that and it looks so stark, but then we have to keep in perspective just how far we’ve come in terms of female directors in the creative industry. Female artists like my mum who are in their sixties, killing it in the art world. When I was at school we had the first female headmistress and that was so unusual only 15, 20 years ago. I think now we’re in this incredibly free space for men and women, and anyone in between, and that is amazing that everyone has this space to say what they want to say and speak their mind.
What does it mean to be a woman in 2018?
Its full of opportunity. And that’s been the past few years, but I think this year is full of promise because of the openness we have on an almost level playing field. And we’ve got women writing compositions with true meaning and I find that really exciting as a composer and performer. For me being a woman is about strength, determination, passion. But there’s half of me that’s – not scared, but aware of the fact that there’s quite a lot of negativity with social media, quite a lot of danger with it and I find that hard to navigate sometimes.
What do women still need to achieve?
Well, equal pay. And it’s weird actually because in terms of funding, you look at athletics and women’s sports that have the least funding, yet I think there are more female role models in that space.
Your personal proudest achievement?
I think getting a first from the Royal College of Music because I really struggled there. I was singing professionally at the same time, so I was really trying to juggle everything. In terms of performing, I’m most proud of singing at Covent Garden Opera House for the Royal Ballet and writing the song for Invictus.
If you could teach young women one thing about being it woman it would be…
Respect your body. I find myself every so often thinking, ‘Why am I hating my body? Why am I beating myself up?’. I think we have to respect the amount that our bodies go through as women and all the changes.
And if you could teach young men one thing…
Oh my goodness, where do you start? I think the best thing we can do from any side of the conversation is to always start with a clean slate and remove stigma attached to certain things. It’s the language that men use when talking about women – and I don’t mean in the sense that pierce Morgan goes ‘Oh those lovely ladies’ and everyone goes, ‘You can’t call ladies lovely!’. Actually, you can call anybody lovely, but there must be an awareness of the line between genuine and condescending.
Complete the following:
In the next 100 years, I hope women will…Be kind. Be kind to one another. And stand on an equal platform to men.
Since winning BBC Radio 4 Chorister of the year in 2005, Laura has been awarded a PPL Classical Music Award from Nordoff Robbin and is now an Ambassador for the charity. In Laura Wright’s career as a soprano, she is proud to have performed ‘Stronger As One’ for her majesty in Westminster – The piece was commissioned for the Commonwealth in her majesty’s Jubilee year. A more recent performance at the Abbey saw Laura perform Handel’s ‘Let The Bright Seraphim’ for her Majesty and Duke of Edinburgh, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. In 2016, Laura proudly performed a special version of the National Anthem for her Majesty’s 90th birthday on Pall Mall with the entire Royal Family watching. Laura is proud to be the England Rugby team’s first ever official anthem singer, performing at the mens and womens rugby matches at Twickenham Stadium.