“When I was in high school, I was obsessed with Mary Wollstonecraft; she was one of the very first feminists ever. My friend and I were always making videos, and we made this movie called Mary Wollstonecraft and the Renaissance Rangers. It was like a Power Rangers spoof, taking all these historical characters out of context. Mary Wollstonecraft, Robespierre, and Marie Curie—they would all fight crime together. This is the kind of stuff I used to do.”
On Sep 13, 1944, a princess from India lay dead at Dachau concentration camp. She had been tortured by the Nazis, then shot in the head. Her name was Noor Inayat Khan. The Germans knew her only as Nora Baker, a British spy who had gone into occupied France using the code name Madeline. She carried her transmitter from safe house to safe house with the Gestapo trailing her, providing communications for her Resistance unit.
Oh my God, yes. Let’s talk about Noor Inayat Khan.
Wireless operators in France had a life expectancy of six weeks. Noor was actively transmitting for over three times as long.
While she was in France, every other wireless operator in her network was slowly picked off until she was the last radio link between London and Paris. It was “the most dangerous and important post in France”.
She was offered a way back to Britain and refused.
In fact, in her transmissions to London, she once said that she was having the time of her life, and thanked them for giving her the opportunity to do this.
She was captured by the Gestapo, but never gave up: she made three attempt escapes. One involved asking to take a bath, insisting on being allowed to close the door to preserve her modesty, and then clambering onto the roof of the Gestapo HQ in Paris.
Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. And by doing it, they’re proven right. Because, I think there’s something inside of you, and inside of all of us, when we see something and we think, “I think I can do it, I think I can do it. But I’m afraid to.” Bridging that gap, doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that, that is what life is.
“Men aren’t asked about age. Men aren’t asked about their children. Not that these things aren’t important, but I do feel like it becomes reductive when a woman’s life becomes, ‘Talk to me about your kids and how you feel about plastic surgery.’” —Julianne Moore, by Will Davidson for DuJour Magazine, June 2013.
“When I started my musical career I was a maid, I used to clean houses and the girls I used to clean houses with used to always beg me to sing while we cleaned. I lived in a boarding house with five other girls and I would sell my $5 CD out of my room. My mother was a proud janitor, my step-father who raised me worked at the post office, and my father was a trash man. They all wore a uniform and that’s why I wear my uniform to honor them. I have work to do. I have people to uplift. I have people to inspire. And today I wear my uniform proudly.”
“My relationship with my mom is really the single most profound relationship that I’ve ever had in my life,” she tells me. “By the way, it seems like I’m … I’m just blowing my nose. It’s not because I’m sad.” She has allergies and a cold, she promises. But her voice breaks when she starts talking about how she sat down with a pen and paper and asked her mother to give her all the advice she could possibly give her before she died, and Kaling realized she’d never be able to ask her mother for advice again. “I said to her, ‘Mom, I’m going to be so lonely without you.’” She’s crying now but keeps going. “And she just said, ‘You have to be your own best friend. If you always remember that, you will always have someone there with you.’”
“I think people sometimes get the wrong impression when they’re like, ‘Oh, well, so-and-so was straight and then she was gay, and now she’s straight again’, you know? But it’s like, how many times do I have to kiss a woman before I’m gay? Everybody wants to label people. Sometimes you just fall in love with somebody, and you’re really not thinking about what gender or whatever they happen to be. It think that if I happen to fall in love with a woman, everyone’s going to make a big deal out of it. But if I happen to fall in love with a man, nobody cares.”