When Beyoncé released her self-titled fifth studio album, it was not only the Beyhive community that cheered. Nigerians, who may not be fans of the singer, also did the same.
Why? Well, one of our most celebrated authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s TED Talk about feminism was featured on in a song titled Flawless.
Since the release, in almost every interview, reporters always ask her how it feels that her TED Talk was sampled in the track. And although she is grateful for it, the writer is apparently tired of the question.
In a phone conversation with American Vogue, she talks about feminism, politics, and that famous song.
On her ideas of feminism going viral: “It felt strange and surprising. I had done one TED Talk and I felt that I had already said what I could, in fact, say, and I didn’t think I had anything else worth talking about. But then I also realized the one thing I cared about is gender, feminism. So I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” But I thought, This is not going to be popular, because it’s obvious that feminism for many people is a bad word, even if you believe in it, the word is off-putting. I thought seven people would care. I was surprised, but pleasantly so.”
On if it is important that gender should be discussed with men as much as women: “Yes, absolutely. When I think about gender, I think it’s a shame that it’s thought of as women’s business. Why aren’t men interested? It concerns both. The ideas are harmful to women, but to accept them also reduces men, the ability, the intelligence, the way so many people would be so much happier if we raised boys differently. I really do believe that men and women should all be feminists.”
On her first thoughts when Beyoncé asked if she could sample the song: “I’m so bored by this question, but I will say that I’m happy that my thirteen-year-old niece calls herself a feminist—not because I made the speech, but because of Beyoncé. Having attained the status of “cool” to my niece is wonderful.”
On if Hollywood exposure frightens her: “I don’t really think very much about it. I’m just sitting here trying to write a good sentence. The kind of fiction I write isn’t the kind of fiction that Angelina Jolie or George Clooney seem likely to make into a movie, so you don’t think it’s going to happen. Particularly with Americanah, I was writing the book I was trying to write and having fun, and I never thought it would translate into a movie. But also, I just think that books are much more interesting than films, and there’s a part of me that resents that the world is much more interested in movies. People say, “Congratulations, you have a film!” But I think, What about the book?
I will say, particularly because it’s Lupita, who I admire very much, I’m excited. I love the space that she occupies. I love that she exists. So I’m quite happy. But it’s not for me a measure of success.”
On the measure for success: “Being read. Being read by people who get it. For me, success is that I have a book out and maybe I get an email from a friend of a friend who I don’t really know that speaks to what the book is about. That people get it: That can keep me depression-free for a month. That it means something to someone else, particularly in a positive way. A woman said to me, ‘Your book made me feel less alone.’ That is success.”