Every other Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!
So without further delay, let me introduce the wonderful Julianna Yau…
Julianna Yau is an artist, advocate, tech enthusiast, film fan and “general overachiever.” After completing a Bachelor of Independent Studies from the University of Waterloo, she decided to persue her first true love - sculpting. Julianna is active in the arts community, working with various arts organizations and acting as an independent advocate for the arts. In 2008, she started the company 2Picas with her friend Adriana Alarcón to provide affordable, professional website and media design for the arts community.
What drives you to do what you do?
I do many things, so this is a difficult question to answer! I started 2Picas because the arts sector was in need of affordable, professional solutions. I sculpt because I am driven to, and the creative process is enriching and challenging. I advocate for the things I believe in, because belief without action gets us nowhere.
Basically, finding personal happiness and peace drives me to do much of what I do.
How does being a woman empower / challenge you?
I’d like to quote artist Tamy Ben-Tor, who said “I don’t think about feminism at all.” Our female predecessors have done amazing things to level human rights for what used to be minority groups, whether based on gender, ethnicity, physical traits, income, or a whole host of other things which used to hold people back.
At this point, I don’t treat my being a woman as either a challenge or a benefit. To give myself the same opportunities as “everyone else,” I act on the very basis that I already have them. I keep pushing myself to do the best I can, and work on improving myself rather than trying to prove my worth — a subtle but critical difference in how equal rights are handled.
What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
Challenge yourself and do what is important to you because, in the end, you’re the one who has to live with your decisions. The wisdom, guidance and advice of your friends, mentors and family are invaluable, but remember that what you choose to do with their input is ultimately your decision. If you find yourself without support for what you want to do, you have to be honest with yourself and ask why that is — whether you need to rethink your path or whether you’ll have to go it alone or build a stronger support network.
Pettiness, insecurity and jealousy manifest differently in different people, and having a close circle of friends without these characteristics is the most important thing you could ever give yourself. And remember, a little grace and professionalism will take you further than you can ever imagine.
Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about.
I think young women should know that Audrey Hepburn was more than just an actress. Not only was she a beautiful and graceful woman, but she became an important goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. She made several tours of countries such as Ethiopia, South America, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Somalia. In 1992, she even received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with UNICEF. Hepburn is an excellent example of a woman who embraces her beauty to make a difference in the world and neither abuses or downplays it.
What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?
Never give up on what you believe in. I know that’s cliché, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. In order for change to happen, the people who want the change have to hold onto their beliefs and act on them. If you find yourself against a wall and too tired to break it down, try another tactic instead — climb over or around it, or simply try another path. Changing the world isn’t easy and won’t happen quickly. It’s the persistent people who are able to adapt who can effect the most change.