POPSUGAR’s Play/Ground Festival, which took place inside New York City’s Pier 94 June 9-10, 2018, celebrated and empowered women. The event was “a place where you can focus not on what you have to do, but on what you want to do.” The schedule and lineup included everything from fitness sessions to hair and makeup stylists, brands and products to engaging with and listening to talents such as Kate Hudson, Yara Shahidi, Tiffany Haddish and Mindy Kaling.
Kate Hudson’s panel, “Redefining the Pursuit of Happiness,” included insights to balancing life and discussing her business venture, Fabletics. Hudson spoke about what keeps her going and how multi-tasking is hard. She spoke about becoming a mother at 22 or 23 and having to be able to balance “motherhood with a budding career.” In order to keep her life balanced, she likes to stay organized. “It’s not about compartmentalizing, it’s about structure,” and she found that when she structured her life it allowed for more freedom, which is what she was afraid of losing.
Hudson also spoke about finding support in other women after being asked about women and competition. “We are not naturally competitive. We are programmed to be competitive with other women” because of society, she says. In discussing the struggle to find happiness, she addressed the losses of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain last week and said, “something that we have seen especially in the past week or week and a half, we have seen that unhappiness and feelings of hopelessness don’t discriminate. It is a subjective experience and it exists for people differently.” Hudson went on to say that “happiness is a discipline” and isn’t a feeling that is reached and maintained, but something you have to work at everyday.
Yara Shahidi’s panel, “Passion to Action,” was moderated by Essence’s Cori Murray. The actress was asked about her passion for activism, getting accepted into Harvard, and Zoe’s journey onto Grown-ish. Shahidi was happy that her character finally felt like a woman who didn’t have it together all of the time on the new series, which airs on Freeform, and that it was nice to see Zoe be uncertain at times. Shahidi got real regarding fighting for women’s rights and social issues. “Our very existence is politicized. The existence of our friends and family is politicized” and so she encouraged the women at the panel to be active in their communities even if they didn’t have a large platform in which to do so. Because “it’s not about the platform,” but the way in which you use what you have.
She also embraced the term “role model,” and that you should “wonder what you can learn from others who you admire. In the age of social media, you should be reaching out to people who you look up to but might not know.” She was also very passionate with regards to making sure all conversations remained intersectional and to “make sure you take on larger issues with every person in mind. Don’t force people to split their identity in order to support something good.”
Shahidi shared a story about how she’d been invited to be a part of an actor’s roundtable and magazine shoot. There were seven open slots for women and Shahidi found out she was the only woman of color to have been invited to participate. Displeased that there wasn’t more inclusivity, Shahidi had to explain why she was stepping back and not doing the shoot anymore. She felt her reasons were invalidated as a black woman because the people running the shoot weren’t understanding why she refused to do it and not taking “no” for an answer.
Ultimately, POPSUGAR’s Play/Ground event brought together some amazing women who were insightful, engaging, and empowering to listen to.