In her first ever interview, Ms. Philip speaks exclusively with Beauty & Brains as she discusses being a woman in a male-driven industry, why she spoke with us first before all and why Caribana is a fun time to be had by all.
Beauty & Brains: What would you say is the hardest thing about being a woman in the entertainment industry?
Shawna Philip: I really think that women have always been the underdog in this business. They do call it a manís world, for a reason, but you have women who have exceeded any male or female expectations. You have an Oprah, a Hilary Clinton, you have something, so the ability to handle this business, or any business for that matter, when youíre a woman is underestimated. Right off the bat, a femaleís abilities are looked at differently. If a man and a woman were up for an interview, the female would have to prove herself that much more valuable, going into the meeting. Overall, women compared to men, arenít going into it on an equal playing field. Hell, in Canada, weíve had to fight for a lot of the rights that men have naturally. Itís unfair to think that that would go on, but it does and it makes me and others all the stronger for it!
B&B: Would you say that itís harder working with men who work the business or is it hard to associate with the women who help fuel it?
SP: I wouldnít say that the problem is working with either/or. As long as you can keep it on a professional level and hold your own then I have no problem working with anyone, you know? No one likes a slacker on their team, right? Even though you can have a personality conflict with a male or female, you can work alongside them and get the job done. Realistically, I canít say which is harder. Although, I get along with men better [laughs], I know that everyone plays their part and itís always good for me to show respect to everyone.
B&B: Another Canadian, Ms. Melyssa Ford, had immense success and popularity from appearing in videos. Can women in the business still have that same achievement?
SP: Yeah, I think that they can have that same achievement. One must take the time to learn who they are and know what they want out of the business. I believe in setting your goals and with those in place, you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. Ultimately, it comes down to your initiative. As long as you implement the steps in your plan, youíll be able to make it through because youíll always know what youíre getting yourself into.
B&B: Now, you have a lot of offers coming in from other magazines and whatnot. Why are you so selective about what you align yourself with?
SP: I guess the reason why I can give you that last answer is because I took the time to figure out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to present myself to the people out there. At the same time, everyone has to go through growing pains and I know I wasnít able to give my all to modeling. It was something that I enjoyed doing. But now, Iím willing to act on it and try to see where it will take me. This is the first exclusive interview that Iíve given to any website, any magazine or anything like that. This is my initiative. This is me getting started on accomplishing my goals. Doing this Beauty & Brains interview is the first step and Iím glad to be able to speak with you, Kevin. Iíve managed to set up some photo shoots in Atlanta and Iím slated to meet up with some casting directors. Iím trying to put myself out there now. So, with the word out, Iím excited to see whatís next!
B&B: Are there any differences in the perks in Canada with models versus in America?
SP: Me. [Laughs] Honestly, the Canadian models have just as much to offer as women in America. Iím not taking anything away from the girls in America. I enjoy looking at their pictures. If theyíre making their money at the same time that theyíre doing it, itís cool. I appreciate women doing for themselves, you know?
B&B: I saw on your MySpace that you took a trip to New York. Itís not a place for the timid, you know? What was one thing that you learned when walking around the Big Apple?
SP: One thing that I learned was that itís a lot busier than it ever looked in any movie or on any television screen. Itís truly a city that doesnít sleep. I love it! Itís so very active and itís fresh. You can sense the history that New York has. From its sights and sounds to the people who you see constantly walking around in awe, New York is truly a place to be. I love it a lot. Just being able to go there and experience it was a blessing. I was able to see whatís going on in New York and learned a lot from what I saw.
B&B: Howíd you handle all the fellas checking you out?
SP: Oh, boy! Thatís another thing. [Laughs] That was different in a sense because some guys take it to heart and become rude. Others were cool. Iím a polite person, though. If you say, ďHi,Ē to me, Iíll say it back to you. Iím not rude at all. But, at the same time, it was overwhelming at times. You just have to listen to it, laugh, and smile and overlook it. If you let it get you down, then I donít know how youíd be able to stay on your path without getting knocked off course. Iím dead set on staying on my path.
B&B: When black men come up to Canada for Caribana do they get the same type of response that you get in the States?
SP: Yeah, in Toronto, especially around Caribana time. Itís just a fun time. Everyone goes out to have fun. If you see something or someone that you like, they ainít going to be afraid to holla at you. You get a lot of people from the States who come and celebrate it.
B&B: How do you differentiate a fan of yours from a stalker?
SP: A fan just gives a compliment. A stalkerÖ they kind ofÖ I donít know. Itís kind of a hard question because I donít think Iíve ever had a stalker. My interpretation is thisÖ if someone gives you a compliment on a frequent basis, thereís nothing wrong with it. But if youíre a peeping tom, youíre going to get put on blast, period! Those type of individuals do instill some fear in you because theyíre unpredictable and thatís not a variable that I want to deal with.
B&B: Where do you think that this career path will ultimately take you?
SP: Ultimately, I donít like counting my chickens before they hatch. I have things in the pocket and a few things that have yet to come to fruition. Iíd like to do some videos and print work, but all that comes down to setting it up and getting it done. Where it leads from thereÖ only time can tell. I would love to do more work within the fashion industry. I absolutely love fashion, you know, dressing up and all [laughs]. If I can get myself well educated enough to put out my own line, then thatís what I would be doing.
B&B: With the 2008 Elections going on here with Obama and Clinton running, who would you like to see run America for the next four years?
SP: Even though Iím in Canada, I believe that Barack Obama can make a significant difference in America. I have had a chance to check out his book and he has the right type of ideas. Itís just up to America to put him in a position to implement a change. He would make it such a beautiful place. Youíve already had a Clinton in office; Bush has had his chance, as well. Itís time for a new and fresh beginning.
Interested in the beautiful Shawna Philip? Be sure to check her out at her MySpace page Ė http://www.myspace.com/smphilip.