“The aim is to work together to make the world fairer for everyone without assuming that my struggle is the same as someone else’s.”
“Hi, where’s the cafe at the back?” I ask the barman at London’s BFI Southbank. I’m impressed by the magnitude of this building, which seems to go on forever as I march swiftly round dark corridors and into a vast open space with yet another bar, and finally a cafe. There are arty-types sat behind laptops dotted about the place; an air of productivity. Quiet conversation flows through the room.
And there she is. Headphones on and clearly in the zone, she looks up from her laptop and I’m immediately pulled into her whirlwind of sparkly energy. Wearing a fuchsia pink shirt and trouser combo, I’ve coveted this woman’s fantastically bold wardrobe for years.
Daisy Grant is a razor-sharp, fast-talking, admirably passionate young person. Our paths first crossed in the summer of 2017, during a month-long training with the National Youth Theatre. A natural performer, Grant’s enviable inherent confidence and witty personality made her instantly likeable. She also happens to be absolutely lovely.
Almost six years later, now the producer of chart-topping podcast Should I Delete That and host of her own podcast Doing the MAFS, Grant describes the road to starting her own business, what it means to be an intersectional feminist and how people could be more socially aware.
Born in Suffolk, Grant’s parents split when she was six; at twelve her family relocated to Perth, Australia. “I loved it, I was on the school council and head girl, obviously, so silly.” she says. Is there anything she’d tell her 15 year old self? “You’re a lesbian!” she proclaims.
After getting her degree in history and drama, performing comedy at the Perth Fringe and a term spent on exchange in Norwich, Grant set her mind to building a life in Edinburgh. “I was too scared to move to London, it was too big.”
Hugely drawn to the Edinburgh Fringe, she worked in hospitality, supervising the cafe bar of Bedlam theatre whilst writing comedy with a friend. “We put on a sketch comedy show which was really well received.”
Describing herself as “loud and energetic”, she says when it comes to performing, there’s always a heavy emphasis on collaboration. “I’m too scared to do it on my own, I’d love to, I don’t have the confidence.
“I’ve always wanted to do a bit of stand-up, maybe not as a career. I just loved being around funny people, the people around Bedlam, they had an improv comedy troupe that were amazing.”
Despite being a natural on stage, she doesn’t think she can do serious acing. “I don’t like it. I want to be funny, maybe because it’s less vulnerable. Because it’s better to be laughed at for being funny than laughed at for not being very good.”
I admire how fiercely independent she was at such a young age, and she shares what she thinks helped shape that self-belief. “I think I was expected to be an adult quite soon, I just had to kind of find my own way, and it made me confident in my decisions. I think I was born quite bossy, and that’s hard to shake.”
How has living in numerous places impacted the young creative? “You’re observing how different cultures live and act and why they do those things. Scotland, London, Norwich, Australia..they’re all so different and I have facets of all of those places in me.
“I have a really weird connection with identity and belonging,” she says, explaining she doesn’t have an attachment to nationality. “I think because I moved to Australia at a weird age, I was never fully English, never fully Australian, so identity doesn’t really mean much to me, I don’t feel like I fit in in either place, maybe that makes me more headstrong in my personality, because I don’t have a cultural identity to fall back on.”
After two years in Edinburgh, Grant decided it was time for a change and packed her bags for London, where her first podcast Project Harness was born. “A friend of mine, Róisín, wanted to do a podcast with me and we were like ‘okay lets f****** do it’.”
The driven pair hired a studio in South Wimbledon and began recording interviews with game-changers about digital ethics, online activism and social media. “It was about harnessing social media and its power in a way that is healthy and helpful, so that’s where that word came from.”
Using their platform to highlight the value of social media as a tool for education, Grant says she was blown away by some of the guests they interviewed. From feminist writer and speaker Clementine Ford (a woman The Guardian have referred to as ‘the most famous feminist in Australia’), to Ai-jen Poo, president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Meryl Streep’s date to the 2018 Golden Globes, the young podcast hosts weren’t afraid to get stuck into the grittier topics. “They were really exciting for us, Clementine’s obviously huge in Australia and such a ‘controversial figure’,”(she holds up quotation marks). “Its bullshit, she’s just a great feminist. We had her and that was amazing. Ai-jen Poo was so difficult to get, she’s a powerhouse.”
Project Harness went on to be featured in GQ and Apple’s new and noteworthy section but naturally the road to recognition came with its challenges. “When we first started the podcast I used to be crying by the end of the week because it’d take me a week to edit an episode, I didn’t know how to do it, there was so much learning. I was working full-time in a restaurant, it was exhausting.”
In March 2020, with the rest of the world in turmoil, Daisy Grant met writer and poet Daisy Flynn. The two became inseparable and spent a month living together in Wales whilst Grant was on furlough. “We just played games and went to the beach and had such a good time, I was like ‘this is what life is meant to feel like..’.”
Returning to work and frequently dealing with rude and ungrateful customers, she soon realised hospitality wasn’t for her anymore. “It was awful, but because I’d only worked in restaurants, I didn’t know how to get out, it was my livelihood.”
The final straw came the day a customer refused to wear his mask when it was still obligatory. “I told him to f*** off and get out basically, and then I was like ‘probably shouldn’t be working in a restaurant…’”. Grant quit her job and moved with her partner to a relative’s cabin in Kent. “All we had to do was feed ourselves and chop the wood, it was a very simple existence. That was the first time in my adult life I was eating three meals a day.”
It was in the cabin that Grant launched her podcasting business. Word spread fast and she soon had several clients, before connecting with Should I Delete That hosts Alex Light and Emily Clarkson, who happened to be looking for a producer. “Suddenly I was doing this weekly podcast with no end! Twice a week, every week since December 2021. We’ve literally not taken a week off, well I have now.
“I think I’m only really acknowledging now that starting my own business was a really hard thing to do.”
With a thriving business, she still manages to find time for her very own podcast, Doing the MAFS, which she co-hosts with partner Daisy Flynn. Reaching nearly 6000 listeners of all time, the couple discusses “the trashiest show on television”. “We got obsessed with Married at First Sight Australia during the pandemic and we were talking about the show in-depth anyway. It’s fun to dissect something so f****** ridiculous.”
Grant says she’d like to do more comedy podcasts and have more comedians on, citing Mae Martin and Hannah Gadsby as two dream guests.
“I’d love to host a radio show.” she replies, when asked about a dream job.
Though she clearly loves her work, the flexibility of being freelance and the variety of guests she gets to hear speak, she says she often misses being around people daily. “I like that it’s creative and I’m learning all the time, it’s a cool job to have. The best part is going into the studio and meeting people, I’m such a social person, I love talking to people. I don’t like working by myself at home, I need to work towards maybe finding a shared office.”
Of course I can’t not ask the podcast producer what her favourite podcasts are. “I listen to mainly news, politics or comedy. I’ve just started Cuddle Club with Lou Sanders. I prefer a podcast that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is more natural than scripted.
“It annoys me that I like a lot of podcasts by white men, it’s not on brand with me! I love Adam Buxton and Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster.”
A line from Grant’s ‘About Me’ page reads: “As an intersectional feminist, she finds fulfilment collaborating with people that share her values.” I ask for her personal definition of ‘intersectional feminism’: “It means acknowledging my place in the world as a white woman and how not all women experience the world in the same way as me. People from marginalised groups are more likely to experience prejudice, misogyny, misogynoir.
“The aim is to work together to make the world fairer for everyone without assuming that my struggle is the same as someone else’s, as a black or asian woman, I can’t assume anything because I don’t have that lived experience. I think it’s just being aware of other people’s struggles and how you can help to lift them up.”
The proactive feminist describes struggling to find a balance of speaking up for what she believes in and letting the haters be haters. While she used to engage in arguments online and defend herself, she’s come to realise some people just aren’t worth debating with. “I’ve learnt that if someone hates women that much, hates marginalised communities that much, hates black people that much, they’re not guna f****** listen to me, so it’s hard to work out when to speak out and when you’re preaching to the choir. Where is the right line?
“I think if you’re calling out when things are wrong, that’s a good place to start. I definitely haven’t found the balance. If you’re there, present, supporting in numbers for protests and listening to what’s happening, it’s really confronting.”
“Entitlement and men,” she responds without hesitation, when asked what makes her most angry in this world. “Anyone who expects something from someone else for no good reason, just because they think they deserve it, that f***s me off.” A certain political party also made the list. “Conservatism. The tories. There’s a bizarre selfishness and hatred towards people that aren’t them, that I just can’t wrap my head around. It does my head in! Just be kind and respectful to one another and then everyone can just go on with their f****** day!”.
Forthcoming with her politics and a proud activist, I pick Grant’s brain on how people could become more socially aware. “Reading, listening and following people of different experiences and perspectives to you. Having discussions and exploring things with groups of people who are like-minded, who you feel safe with and can trust.”
She outlines the problem of cancel culture and how consequently learning has become stifled. “There’s so much fear in conversations; fear of saying the wrong thing; fear of being cancelled. This is a massive problem; cancelling people when they’ve maybe been trying out an idea. I don’t think it means people should have the right to say anything anywhere. I don’t think ‘free-speech is a human right’, especially if you’re being hateful. I’m open to learning more but not when it’s coming from a place of hatred.”
We touch on the notion of failure and Grant describes her relationship with it. “I think I’ve failed all the time, I’m really hard on myself, I’m always learning from failures. I really beat myself up about things but I’m getting better.
“I’m learning to trust my gut more and now it’s paying off. I’ve been challenging myself to take on projects that I know I’m not that skilled in.”
What does she consider to be her greatest achievement thus far? “This is really cringe but..my relationship! I was very lucky with the person I found.” She speaks fondly of their life together. “When we’re free we make the most of it and have a nice time, I just want to do more of that. We’ve raised a good dog who I love, he brings a lot of joy to our life.”
Getting itchy feet once more, the couple are moving to Brighton later this year. “I want to live by the sea and go for a swim every day. Perhaps I’ll open a podcast studio that’s queer-friendly and welcoming and has a nice community.”
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