Meredith Walker is on a mission to create support for the younger generation to be their true authentic self. She is a Peabody award-winning journalist and producer who is the founder and co-executive producer of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Online Community and Digital Network. She worked with Amy at SNL, and that is where they came up with the idea to develop a community to support and encourage young women. Meredith and Amy have created a support group online that anyone can tap into, and helps highlight the part of them that they may otherwise have been teased for. She helps women remember it’s okay to “get your hair wet” in aspects of life, whether it’s jumping in the Barton Springs, unplugging from electronics for a day and going for a hike, or just having passion in your day to day life!
[2:04] Meredith grew up in Houston and spent her summer vacations here. In the 1990’s she worked for a show called Nick News and used Austin as her home base for a lot of shoots. She would intentionally shoot in Austin because she loved the vibe here so much, and couldn’t wait to move here!
[3:44] She came to live in Austin in 2006 when rent was still very affordable!
[5:48] Smart Girls originated when Amy and Meredith worked at SNL together. They would talk during their downtime about how tough adolescence was, and how no matter if you were the nerd or the popular girl, challenging moments arose for everyone.
[7:31] It started as an online series, then formed into an online clubhouse where everyone was welcome.
[9:07] Meredith has three or four women that she attributes to helping provide her a role of support and encouragement during her youth and transition into adulthood. She believes that along with family support, it is crucial for young women to also have role models outside the family and school system as well.
[11:38] Even though nerd culture has become popular again and social media provides pockets for groups, it still is very challenging for people growing up, and many girls feel misunderstood.
[12:29] When they started it they had adolescents in mind, but the online community grew quickly and welcomes people of all ages who still deal with things that hurt their feelings in their youth! Also mothers with children are on the forum to learn ways to support their child.
[14:48] Meredith mentors at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders here in Austin. It is a public school with no tuition fees, with a diverse student body. She loves it because it helps lift up the girls and it’s a win-win for both parties. Even just one hour a week makes a difference.
[16:06] Thank you to our Sponsor, the Papasan Properties Group.
[16:57] Meredith discusses her collaboration with Pam LeBlanc and the Barton Springs Conservancy. They share a similar philosophy of “get your hair wet.” We are allowed to get off the sidelines, get in and have fun! This resulted in everyone having to get in the Barton Springs during their “play date,” and play around instead of taking everything so seriously! This even inspired a woman to get out and go get her hair wet every day and break out of a slump.
[21:14] Their YouTube channel features girls that are passionate and enjoy what they are doing. They don’t have to be beauty pageant winners or the best in a certain area — just to exude joy in their field.
[22:05] They have a show, Girls of the World, as a newer version of PenPal, to show that it’s cool to accept those with different clothing, language, and look.
[23:00] They encourage girls to get off social media devices and get out — something like a hike in nature. This also fits the accepting vibe of Austin that allows you to discover more of your authentic self.
[29:10] Favorite Taco is: The Democrat Taco on Torchy’s on S. 1st Street!
[31:21] Next week we are joined by Rob Lynch, a local leadership mentor and business consultant.
Torchy’s Taco | The Democrat
*must be Torchy’s on S. 1st Street