Lauren is a journalist. I met her when she was working at French Elle. She was one of the first people to find interest in blogs, to find them fascinating and worthy of attention. We’ve always talked a lot about the media, the press, our roles in all of that. That’s why when she told me she was about to become a host for one of the most famous shows on French television, I thought it would be great, that she would be able to bring a fresh point of view to TV…
One year later, with all of that behind her, she has a whole new project, a whole new perspective, and I thought this would be the perfect moment to tell us a little bit about her year on-screen!!!
Lauren Bastide | Journalist
For an entire year, my face was on TV every night of the week, on a major French channel. Even when I say it now, it still seems weird and unreal. Just the thought of it used to keep me up at night, actually, the summer before my “television debut”. I can still see myself in August 2015, in my little Greek hotel in Tinos, sitting up in bed at 2am in a cold sweat with my hands on both cheeks (like the panic emoji): “Why in the world did I ever say yes to this!?”
What I said yes to was this crazy proposition to become a columnist on the Grand Journal — a news show on France’s Canal Plus channel. Everyone in France knows the show—it’s been on every single night at 7pm for over ten years, and I had been a journalist at ELLE for ten years. Ten years is a long time. And this opportunity to take a big leap into a completely new world was too amazing, too rare, to let it pass me by. But still. My face. On TV. Live. EVERY NIGHT. Crazy!
Suddenly I found myself perched on a stool around a big triangular table with lots of projectors shining on my face. Every night, I had people in front of me who had “made the news” as they say. There were definitely some “WOW” moments like the special show we did with Martin Scorsese, or the incredible time during the COP21 Summit when we had two of my biggest heroines on the show in the same week: Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva. There were also some “BOOOOO” moments like that night when a guy come on set, offering to train French people in commando fighting techniques in case there were terrorist attacks (WTF). Every night had its controversies, its little sentences—very little sentences, in fact, because on TV everything has to go very fast, so there’s not much room for complexity. I quickly realized that in all of that, I was just a woman on television. That my role was to be dressed as nicely as possible, to have my hair and makeup look as good as possible (the hair stylists and makeup artists for TV are magicians capable of making me look fresh and glowing even on days when I came in with a
hangover flu), and to smile. I had it in my head that maybe, with the audience I was reaching, I might be able to change the world a little bit, and share a message, especially on women’s rights. But no. No time for that. I had to laugh at the jokes and make sure my questions went in the right direction for the show. In the right direction for television in general. To be honest, I got really bored being on TV.
And don’t think people were stopping me in the street to take selfies with me. That never happened. People these days don’t really watch TV anymore. And in Paris, when you see a “celebrity”, especially a minor one, you’re certainly not going to go up and tap them on the shoulder. For example, I see Marina Fois at the café below my apartment all the time. And no, I’ve never gone over to tell her I thought she was great in Le Bal des Actrices (even though, wow, she really was). No, my life didn’t change, except that I had a comfortable salary deposited into my account each month, I didn’t see my children in the evenings anymore, and every time I was at a dinner, everyone wanted me to tell them “what it’s like on TV.”
It’s funny, because I’ve done quite a few cool things in my life. I wrote a historical book about the Kings of France when I was in college (#funfact). I’ve written tons of fascinating articles for ELLE. At one point, I was even Editor in Chief. But I was never so congratulated as when I was on TV. “Oh my goodness, that’s so amaaazing!!” It’s funny, even from a societal viewpoint, being under those lights is considered an accomplishment. But to me, deep down, it felt empty. The more layers of powder they plastered on my face, the more I felt void and useless.
Then one day, the spark came back. Since I didn’t have the space to speak, I was going to make a space for myself. A podcast. I was going to create my own podcast. A podcast where I could invite women, only women, that I admire, and I could ask them all the questions that have always inspired me: How did they become women? How do they experience their female bodies? What do they have in their stomachs and on their minds? Are they feminists? If so, how do they express that? Do they get along well with their uteruses? (Yeah, I have a little obsession with the uterus). I wanted to transmit a message to the women listening. It doesn’t matter where you were born, it doesn’t matter that you’ve got a vagina: you can be whoever you want to be. And above all, who cares about the bright lights, or having a well powdered nose and fresh blonde highlights. Your voice. Your voice is the thing that matters, the thing that can reach others, the thing that can change the world.
As soon as my podcast idea started taking root in my mind, my cheeks went pink again. I got an amazing energy back. I felt like I could do anything. Oh yeah, and I felt empty? Well I was going to fill up. I got it in my head to go back to school and enroll for a Master’s in Gender Studies at Université Paris 8. In the evenings, I smiled under all the powder and bright lights. At night, I filled out my enrollment paperwork online and started looking for sponsors for my podcast, which, funny thing, I was going to call La Poudre (“Powder” in French) because it’s cosmetic and corrosive, light and smoky, feminine and explosive (kind of like me, yeah, I know, thanks).
Today, one year and three months after my first appearance on TV, I feel proud, powerful, and completely fulfilled. Nah, just kidding. I’ve got too much on my plate, I still don’t see my kids enough, I’m not making any money and there’s no kidding around when I have to turn in a worksheet on American feminist philosopher Sandra Harding’s “Standpoint Theory” (don’t ask me about it, I’m still struggling with the second paragraph). But damn if it isn’t nice to be your own boss and to put some fucking meaning into what you do, goddamn it! (Pardon my French).
The people who used to say “OH WOW, TV, that’s so great!!!” now say to me: “ummm…a podcast? Are you sure?” Yes, I’m sure the podcast revolution – which you Garance Doré readers have already experienced thanks to Pardon My French – is about to hit France. Oh, and my associate Julien and I (yes, I have an associate, which is ultra-classy, you’ll agree) started a studio called Nouvelles Ecoutes and it’s going to produce the coolest podcasts that France has ever known (even though, sure, France hasn’t known very many). In the meantime, subscribe to La Poudre and let me know what you think. Here’s the scoop: In a few weeks, you’ll be able to hear the sweet voice – in French – of Garance Doré, who I thank from the bottom of my heart, since I’m here, for her precious, unconditional support through every step of my process. Because without my friends, I never would have been able to accomplish all of this.
Translated by Andrea Perdue