Serena Williams, Cara Delevingne & Other Girl Bosses Empowered At Teen Vogue Summit 2018

On December 1st, Her Campus at UCLA had the opportunity to attend Teen Vogue Summit. With panels of stacked celebrity lineups and interactive workshops, the event aimed to connect guests with influential figures of various industries such as entertainment, fashion, health/wellness and activism. Tennis prodigy, fashion designer and new mom, Serena Williams was one of the keynote speakers, alongside model and actress Cara Delevingne. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before star, Lana Condor, was another highly-anticipated guest. And YouTube influencer, Eva Gutowski, also made an appearance. The event was filled with well-spoken leaders, all role models in their own ways. Pursuing your passion while remembering the importance of self-care emerged as a major theme and Teen Vogue did a wonderful job in creating a space where guests could feel inspired, loved and ardent for positive change. 

The first keynote was with Cara Delevingne and several members of Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21 list. On using social media as a platform, Cara advised, “Keep grounded, stay level-headed and be honest with who you are and how you feel. We’re not perfect, but we should each focus on being a better person.” She commented about the pressure we sometimes place on ourselves, to be successful even from a young age, “We have so much more pressure to do things when we’re young. But once we feel obliged to do some things, we forget why we’re doing them.” She encouraged the audience members to not compare themselves with their peers. And she endorsed the act of crying, “Never put a time limit on tears. Cry as long as you want because it’s good for you.”

One breakout that I attended was, “Social Cues: Social Media Discussion with Top Influencers” with panelists, Nicolette Mason, Patrick Starrr, Jenn Im, Claudia Sulewski and Eva Gutowski. When asked about how he is able to balance everything going on in his life, Patrick Starr shared about the importance of surrounding yourself with the right team, “When you find people that love what you do, while also acknowledging your weaknesses, that’s when you have the right team. And that’s when you grow.” Eva added, “Building a team is great but when you are at your early stages, just having a team of friends that are like-minded as you and just have similar goals is really important. Friends that understand life the way that you want to live your life. I’ve been through stages on YouTube where I’ve had such close friends that inspired me so much, and then I met people that dimmed the sparkle of the things that I loved to do and finding friends that coincide with what I love to do is what has inspired me to keep going. Make content with them, explore ideas, having plans like camping. Make friends in this industry.” 

On social media leveraging her platform for more acting opportunities, Claudia Sulewski shared, “The greatest thing about the Internet is that you can share your voice, create original content and let anyone see it. And I think that’s the most empowering aspect of it, to be able to encourage girls to speak their minds, share their ideas and not just sit in the shadows.” She later emphasized, “You totally are what you surround yourself with. And when it comes to friendships, they are people that you are talking to everyday. So you completely have power in who you want to share your precious time with.”

Eva Gutowski spoke about her experience with being honest to her followers and the general public. She told us, “When it comes to me for sharing things, there’s nothing I put off-limits. When I put out my sexual assault experience video, I was so scared. But I saw a girl going through the same situation as me and it was all over the news, but no one believed her story. And I felt like in that moment, this is my note to speak up and say something. And that was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever put out to millions of people. I’ve just learned that nothing is off-limits for me to share, but I only share it if it’s genuinely coming from my belief that my story can help someone.” A huge highlight of the event was seeing Serena Williams and hearing her speak. A legend among athletes, Serena has paved her name into the ranks as one of the greatest athletes of all time. She recently began her own clothing line, titled Serena. And a little over a year ago, the star gave birth to a beautiful daughter named Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Loving the new mom life, she gushed, “I’ve been with her everyday of her life, I haven’t missed a day. And I love that she gives me that love back. I love that when I walk into the room and she’s with her dad, she runs to me. *Laughs* It makes me feel really good. Which is sad. But I am a competitor at heart. I never thought I would be a mom that would be so hands on. I always thought I would do this or do that. My life is built around my daughter now. I love that.” 

When asked about supporting other women of color, Serena noted, “I always like to say that the success of one woman should be the inspiration for the next. And if we look at it that way, there’d be so much more that we could accomplish.”

The final breakout session I attended was, “The Rise of Hollywood’s Women of Color” featuring Storm Reid, Lana Condor and Indya Moore. To Lana's delight, Anna Cathcart made a surprise appearance and it was a Lara Jean and Kitty sister reunion. Upon the success of the teen romance film, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix, Lana spoke about her experience being an Asian-American with a lead role. “You don’t usually see Asian-Americans as the love interest. But the joke there is, everyone falls in love. Asian-Americans fall in love too. At the end of the day, all you can do is love yourself and love the people you feel are pushing you down.” Later on she voiced out, “We’re normalizing seeing Asians on-screen. I’m going to continue to be optimistic, because I do think that there is a world where we can harbor on our negativity and anger too long, that we lose hope and then there can never be a change.”   

The abundance of female empowerment projected by many of the speakers at Teen Vogue Summit was truly remarkable. The environment was uplifting and it was so encouraging to see the positivity and energy radiating all around. Thank you Teen Vogue for this amazing opportunity!