Her Campus Leeds International Women's Day Interview: Anna Duffell

There is something about sitting down and talking about our younger selves over a Zoom call that feels so calming and nostalgic. I had received a message a few days prior to the call informing me of my partner for the task - I saw the name Anna Duffell on my screen and having read some of her pieces before, I was all the more excited for this. I made sure that I prepared some questions written down that I planned to ask Anna, for I was rather nervous given the broadness of our theme: younger selves. The day is here - I join the call hoping for it to go well and the fact that the call starts with the both of us laughing over our little boiling water mishaps gives me a good indication that the call is surely to be a delightful one.


A rather common question but definitely one that carries a great deal of curiosity around is of the thing you’ve always wanted to do as a child, one you simply waited to do when you turned into an adult. Anna says that she has always wanted to be an actress and that when she turned 18, she made the decision to enrol to a drama school. Having been able to take a step and venture into the world of theatre and acting, the excitement and wonder that stemmed from her younger years was definitely sated. Though her dream had come true, Anna says that attending drama school brought her the realisation that, as nice as it was, she did not enjoy it as much as she thought she would. She feels that she gained valuable experience and it was all a form of self-satisfaction and she adds that “I owed it to my younger self to let myself experience it.”


Another thing I found incredibly interesting to find out was what would one look like now in the eyes of their younger self. I ask Anna, “Would little Anna think the Anna now is a cool adult?” to which she happily nodded. “My Year 7 self would definitely find me so cool now! I feel like I have grown to become the kind of person I looked up to, and I’m really glad.” Anna reveals that her younger self admired the feminist movement, and she is grateful that she decided to partake in it and become an active member despite the great amount of challenges and, unfortunately, ridicule that come in the way - “I’m proud to be a feminist and my young self would be glad to know that.” She also adds that over the years she has grown an affinity for old-fashioned stuff which is something her younger self found extremely interesting. It is wonderful to see that Anna has grown into such a bold force, one to definitely be reckoned with.


We then delve into a deeper subject of how experiences through the years would have caused any hurt to her younger self to which Anna claims there has been a great deal of. “I struggled a lot mentally, there was so much self-loathing that I put myself through.” She admits that there were a few years that were really hard, but she feels that she is in a much better place now albeit the hiccups that do come every now and then. I ask if there is something she did (and still does) that helps her when things get too overwhelming and she says, “Put a photo of your younger self. Talk to the young girl - you wouldn’t hurt her. So, keep going and don’t do it now.” That really resonated with me, it is a much-needed perspective and hopefully one that others can take away from this too.


To end my little interview with Anna, I ask her of the one advice she would give her younger self (the essential question). She laughs before saying she has in fact, two pieces of advice to give her younger self. On a lighter note, she wants to tell young Anna, “Stop shaving your legs all the time! It’s really too time consuming.” Then on a more serious side, she simply wants her younger self to know that being patient is important, for things will come to you when they are due to. Most importantly, she says, “Time will heal things. Always ask whether what is bothering you now will matter in a few years because more often than not, the answer is no.”

Talking to Anna about her younger self was a lovely experience and it definitely gave me insight on just how much our lives change and that despite all the changes, it is meaningful to reflect on our younger selves and see how far we’ve come.


Words By: Harsheni Maniarasan

Interviewee: Anna Duffell

Edited By: Hannah Martin