Just when you’re convinced the world is a dark place with an uncertain future, along comes Hannah Alper. It’s not that Hannah’s a foolish optimist. She is, as Gloria Steinem calls it, a “hopeaholic”. Hannah has been an activist for social and environmental change since she was 9 years old - and that wasn’t that long ago! She’s a motivational speaker, a blogger, an author and budding journalist. She’s also a second year university student, and yes, she assures us that she’s also hanging out and having fun. Just listening to her puts a smile on our face. Come be inspired. The kids are alright.
Hannah Alper was born in Toronto in this century. In July 2012, at the age of 9, Alper launched a blog called Call Me Hannah, speaking out about causes important to her: animal welfare, habitat destruction, and the natural environment. With a social media following in the tens of thousands, Hannah has emerged as an author, a motivational speaker, an ambassador for Free the Children, co-president of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization in Ontario, a TedX talker, and a budding journalist. In 2018, Bloomberg Businessweek named her one of 18 people to watch, so watch her! She’s also a student at Western University, where she assures us she’s having as much fun as she should.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:00:02
Hey, Maureen, I know you care about a lot of things, but you have, like, an actual cause.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:00:13
Like a cause?
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:00:16
It's like a fundraiser. Like, you used to do stuff for breast cancer. We both had that. Like something that you throw your support behind.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:00:22
I totally support breast cancer.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:00:25
Yeah, me too. The more the merrier. Everyone's going to get it.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:00:30
Yeah. I support cancer research. And I know saving the whales or helping Ukrainian refugees. I know you're involved in helping Afghani refugees. Climate change, I think, is probably the most important cause, because if we don't look after that, nothing else matters.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:00:47
I would definitely agree. Climate change really important. Also, after Roe versus Wade and that whole thing, protecting women's reproductive rights.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:00:57
Antibullying is a big thing. Poverty, I'm against it.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:01:01
Racism, I'm kind of against that, too.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:06
I think you're totally against it.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:07
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:08
Gender inequality is a big one.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:01:10
Misinformation. I mean, some people say I should talk, being immediate, but misinformation try and tell the truth.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:16
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:01:18
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:19
That's the hard one. Mental health, I'm for that. Mental health. I'm against substance abuse.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:01:27
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:01:28
Well, the abuse part. The substance part, yes.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:30
The substance isn't funless. I hear you.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:01:34
There's more, but there's so little time. I'm against all those things, but honestly, it's kind of overwhelming. I wonder how much can one person do?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:45
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:01:46
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:01:46
Okay. Well, there's Gandhi. He was one person.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:01:51
So are you Gandhi? No. Martin Luther King. He was one guy. Nelson Mandela?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:02:01
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:02:01
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:02:02
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:02:03
To do a lot of things. Greta Thunberg on the environment, I think.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:02:09
That almost without fail, all of these activists, the people that have changed the world, started young. Like Hannah alper.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:02:19
Well, hannah Alper is amazing. She started at nine. Part of it is her parents being an only kid, but she's also, like, really committed, and she was going to change the world, which we're all going to do at nine. But she actually started a blog. Other kids followed it. She encouraged them to step up, join the fight. She started with animal welfare, protecting the environment. Now it's kind of like everything. But she's a big deal.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:02:43
She is a big deal. And she's got thousands and thousands of followers, very adept at social media now. She's giving motivational speeches, she's giving Ted Talks. She interviewed a lot of her inspirations, including Malala, and then she wrote a book. And then the next thing, people are calling her Canada's Greta Thunberg, but with a sense of humor.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:03:04
And she's all grown up now. She's at the advanced age of 1919. Yeah. And she's going to university, where hopes she's drinking and doing all those other things. She's studying journalism, which I think is a really great thing. She probably looks at us as a couple of veterans, but we are. I think she's got to be our youngest guest, but is she too young to be a woman of ill repute?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:03:32
Well, you know what? I don't think you're too young, but I don't even know if she knows what that means, so let's find out. Welcome, Hannah Alpha.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:03:46
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:03:48
Hello. I'm so excited to be here.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:03:50
We are too. We were trying to think of, like when some people think of the women of Ill review, they think of prostitutes or sex workers, as they're called these days. But you're obviously not that. I guess the interesting thing is to try and figure to us, you're a fighter. That's why we wanted to talk to you. But how do you see when you saw the title of the show, how do you see us?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:04:13
Honestly, I had no idea what it even meant. I'll be completely honest. I thought that it sounded really interesting. But I think that it's definitely a woman that kind of fights for what she believes in. I think that it can really it's kind of like I've been an activist since I was nine years old, and something that I talk about a lot is that really activism and finding and pursuing your passion, that can mean whatever you want, and that can mean whatever you're passionate about. And that word passionate, it can mean so many things. It's about asking yourself, what do you love? What do you deeply care about? What do you want to tell the world? But making a difference or changing the world or fighting for something. It doesn't have to mean you standing on a stage like. I've done talking to people. Because that can be really because as we know. That can be really frightening. And that might not be someone's thing. But I think that being a woman of repute. I think that it can just mean that you're fighting for what you believe in and you're standing up. Whether it's for yourself. Whether it's for other people in your community. Whether it's for animals. Wildlife. Whether it's for the world. Different issues. People that you do know. Or people that you don't know that are being affected by an issue locally or globally. So I think that it can mean so many things, but I'd love to hear what it means to both of you.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:05:27
It's exactly that. You probably defined it better than we could. We just thought it was a sort of sassy, provocative title, so we went along with that. At the age of nine, I would not have had any I mean, how did you even know what activism was? What woke you up?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:05:43
Oh, I definitely didn't. I think that the best kind of activist or anything like that. They don't even know what they're doing until it kind of gets something, until it kind of almost becomes something bigger than themselves. And that's sort of what happened with me. I started a blog with me, and my parents had gone to this digital media summit in philadelphia. And as you know, my dad, Eric Alper, has a blog, so I thought that I would just tag along. I was nine. I couldn't walk around by myself, so I started a blog, but I had no idea what I wanted it to be about. On the ride home, my mom told me that I can write about how much I loved myself. And my dad told me that I couldn't write about how much that I love Justin Bieber.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:06:22
Oh. Do you still love Justin Bieber?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:06:26
Yeah, I'm still a believer always. I had to find something that going back to that word that I was passionate about, and I didn't even know what that word meant. So we talked through and we literally asked ourselves, or I asked myself those same questions that I kind of ask other people today when I'm helping other people find what they're passionate about and what their issue is, what they're going to fight for the world. So I asked myself, what do I love? What do I care about? What do I want to tell the world? And me and my parents talked it through, and the only thing that I knew that I really loved was animals. I have two dogs at home. I can't really walk by dogs that ask if I can pet it. And so we kind of started together with my parents learning about issues that are affecting the environment and then in turn, animals that are really man made, and it was just so devastating. But at the same time, I kind of turned that devastation into motivation. And prior to that, I was in the Eco Club at school. I had made, like, posters that was saying, Save the environment, and everything like that, but this was really putting my voice out there. And so it started really small. It was kind of me sharing different actions that I was doing to help the environment, whether it was ecofriendly cleaning supplies or an ecofriendly garage or shoreline cleanups. But kind of through those, there were almost lessons that I kind of implemented into my blog then that I implement into every platform that I used to take action on so many different issues now. And so I kind of talk about the idea that it's the little things that add it to make a big difference.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:07:56
Yeah, well, we can get into the causes. I want to hear way more about the causes because obviously the planet's on fire and you're trying to put the fire out.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:08:05
It can be so depressing. I know, but I want one more.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:08:08
Question about your parents because I'm an only child. We raised an only child who's just a little bit older than you, and she's fighting for stuff, too. And I can't have her on because she's my daughter.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:08:17
So we had you instead.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:08:23
There must be a lot of pressure. I mean, you were out doing Ted Talks when you were ten years old or nine years old. The blog started when you were nine. Talk to us about that. You're like huge now. You've got all these followers, you do speeches, you're motivational, but I just wonder about being an only child and having all the weight of your parents on your shoulders.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:08:41
Yeah, I mean, I'm extremely lucky because I feel like that while I definitely did feel a lot of pressure and expectations throughout my life since I was literally nine years old, about just kind of always carrying myself in a certain way. And I feel like I've always been really mature because of that. And I've always been able to engage with people older than me. And when I was doing all of the different events, including like, We Day, I talked to so many different stakeholders and sponsors and everything like that. And you kind of were always taught to always sort of be on and to say yes to everything. And it's just kind of interesting that I'm 19 years old now. I'm definitely not the same person that I was when I was nine. And I'm kind of learning about how just with myself, how those expectations and just the kind of the things that I was taught, not necessarily by my parents, but just the things that I was instilled upon when I was nine, how that's kind of like, shaped who I am today in so many good ways. And also, I'm a super compassionate person. And my parents are as well. And they're my biggest champions. And they are, I think, the greatest people in the world. And they support me, they ground me, they make me feel confident. And they've also said, you know, if you're too stressed, you can stop at any time. But I think that you both know that when you're passionate about something, when you find that when that spark is ignited, you can't stop. And it's almost its own force at that point, and you're almost kind of like just the vessel of it. And I was just became passionate about so many issues, but I'm a really compassionate person towards all of my friends and people around me in the world and issues and everything like that. But I think recently I've kind of taken into account and realized that you can still be compassionate to others while being compassionate for yourself and standing up for yourself. And the whole advocating for yourself, especially as a woman and a woman in media, I think in activism is something that's really important, something that I'm kind of just realizing because I think that for a lot of young women, that it's almost instilled in us that we have to be super and we should be really kind to everyone. And I really believe in kindness. I am very much a kiln with kindness. I literally coined the term kind raising, which is literally fundraising, but for kindness, because you don't have to always change the world with money. You can do it through kindness, compassion, empathy. But I think at the same time, there's just this almost myth that in order to be kind to everyone, you kind of always have to put other people before you. And because I've been an activist for so long, I've been putting so many kind of issues before me. So anyway. So that's my long winded brand of just saying that I'm learning to advocate for myself and stand up for myself and also saying no to more stuff. Definitely. Because as I'm in university. I'm kind of learning more about myself as an adult. Which is so weird to think about. But kind of that I don't actually have to say yes to everything. Which is something that me and my parents were doing constantly because I was trying to get a name for myself and I was trying to reach as many people as possible with my messages and hopefully inspire people to do even one thing that leaves the world a little bit better than they first found it. But also, you can do all that while not saying yes to everything and really putting yourself first, which is so important. I'm sure that's something that you've both learned in your journeys.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:11:47
Still learning it. Let's talk about being a 19 year old at Western. My eldest son went there, and you were in residence last year, and you're now moving into a house. And I know that because there was an article in the newspaper about it, because that's who you are now. People are interested in, like, oh, my God, Hannah's living in a house now. But what about being a 19 year old girl, a young woman at university? When I was your age, I'll tell you right now, I was just getting high and hanging out with my boyfriend and listening to music. And that's important too, right?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:12:15
Yes. I love that you can still be doing incredible and extraordinary things and still be kind of a normal 19 year old and still go out and still do things. And I think that that's kind of one of the best parts. I remember one of my biggest accomplishments is probably interviewing Malaiusai, and that was when I was, I think I was 15 doing that. And I was invited by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was giving her her honorary Canadian citizenship, and I was the only person to receive a one on one interview with her. And she has been my biggest role model, literally since I was ten years old.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:12:47
Just before you tell us how wonderful and important and everything she is, was there anything wrong? Is there anything human? Like, were you able to see? She just seems like such a goddess, right?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:12:57
That was the best part of it, is that she was so normal. She loves Demi Lovato. We did the cup song together. She loves learning. She loves I mean, maybe not every, like, 19 year old at that time loves learning, but she is just so normal. And I think that that was just such a testament to anyone of any kind of success level. They're all normal people, kind of, and exactly. I'm living at university and I'm doing things and yeah, Western is an incredible school, and I think in the last year, I've learned definitely a lot more just about myself and being independent, especially coming out of a global pandemic as a teenager. I didn't get a prom, I didn't graduate high school normally. I literally like me and my parents, and we went in our car and I literally got my diploma from my teacher and a drive through graduation and then took pictures of the balloon and it was, like, cute, I guess, but it was so different. So I think there's just been so many mental health tolls on so many people my age, and everyone kind of in my age group in a way. And so it's just been really interesting kind of to navigate that normal high school experience kind of again and almost reclaiming that teenager experience that a lot of us missed out on that were kind of all regaining.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:14:10
So you are partying and drinking and all that the important things.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:14:16
You don't have to, but we just want to make sure you're having the full experience.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:14:21
I'm being social. You have to. And I mean, it's Western. It's Western school. And definitely Western had a very unique year in the past year, and I was living on residence and definitely I would be lying if I said that I felt safe all the time at school.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:14:37
This is the antisemitism stuff or the bullying.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:14:41
No, Western had a series of students who were assaulted in residence.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:14:47
Yeah, it was literally in the first week, too. All of these parents sent their kids off for the first time, and there was a series of sexual assaults and roofing and drugging and all that kind of stuff, and my parents were freaking out and every parent was and so now it's kind of now just known as Western and within any university as just September. And I think it's just very eerie, but we've had a very unique few years, just my age group in general. But I think it's been amazing kind of just being a normal 19 year old, but then also at the same time, you can also do so many things and you can still follow your passions and pursue your passions, and it's something that I just genuinely love to do. It doesn't feel like work to me, so if I can do both and of course, when I was younger and when I was traveling around the world and I was missing parties, I was missing hanging out with my friends, but I think I've been able to find a really good balance to it. And, you know, you make time for the things that you love and the things that you're passionate about. And also you find your community through that. You make friends, you meet people. And I think community is so important. I've been able to find a lot of that through social media and at university, I'm a really big part of my student newspaper, which I love. And finding that community of people, like minded people that just kind of get it right, quote, unquote, they get it is incredible.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:16:05
But does everybody get it? I mean, before you said yes, kind of depressing when you look at all the droughts and fires and pestilence around the world. But you're studying journalism, which of course, as a journalist, I find really interesting. One of your big issues is climate change and the environment and so on. And it reminded me that it wasn't that long ago, like maybe even five years ago, maybe even four years ago, that there was this sort of two sides that you weren't allowed to say in straight news. You weren't allowed to say that climate change was caused by humans. I mean, it's like saying that there's no such thing as gay people. It's just like nuts. So have we come someplace or do we like I think that most journalists don't feel that they have to say. On the other hand, as Donald Trump supporters would say, what about Ism? Yeah, but what about so and so? Who says that there is no climate change caused by humans? Let's have him on. Is that still treated seriously in journalism at all, anywhere?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:17:03
Yeah, I think that as an activist and a journalist, that you have to have hope for a better world. And I think that I'm also just a really big optimist. Gloria Steinem calls herself a hopeaholic, and I will totally copy that and call myself that as well. I think it's really important to have conversations with people that disagree with you, and I'm sure that you both agree as journalists. And I also love your advice for being a journalist too, because that's just something that I would really love to hear from both of you. But I think that it can be really difficult having conversations with people that you disagree with. But it is now more than ever. I think it's so necessary and I think it's possible for two people that disagree with each other to actually somehow have a civilized conversation. Especially if you realize that so much of those kind of what about isms and everything like that. That sometimes that can simply come from a lack of education or that can come from maybe their individual experiences. And I'm just again, I think it's the whole killing with kindness thing and realizing that yelling at someone and restricting all conversations on the other side is going to actually do anything. It's like kind of realizing that doing that, that kind of blocking off any sort of conversation. People on the other side, people that disagree with you, that nothing is going to happen with that. And really real change happens when we're able to come together and we're able to find common ground to sit, to listen to each other and to learn kind of together. And the world wasn't built by people. Maybe it was built by less progressive people, but it wasn't built by people who were all on the same side. And so that's how solutions come together. It's from people of all different backgrounds and experiences. And that's kind of where intersectionality comes into with realizing that climate change affects other minorities and underrepresented groups so much more. And I think with journalism that's so interesting and something that I've just been exploring so much is kind of just how the media represents or misrepresent or under represents different groups in the world. And especially with something like gun violence, I find that that's an issue I'm really passionate about. And the organization Marched for Our Lives, an organization founded by young people focused on fighting gun control and gun prevention, specifically in the United States. But they're kind of all about and they were first founded in Parkland, which is a predominantly white area, but they are really focused on kind of helping areas like Chicago and places that are really affected by gun violence that they know that the media really misrepresents the.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:19:29
Women of ill repute.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:19:31
If you had to pick one cause I would say my son is in second year law. And Wendy said, when I said, let's have Hannah, she said, well, why not Ronan or Kate, our own kids. We're all very proud of the next generation.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:19:46
It's pretty amazing. I know. Don't you have so much hope?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:19:49
Yes, well, I do and I also have a lot of fear.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:19:52
Oh, totally. You can both.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:19:55
Yes. Well, Ronan's big thing, my son is in law school. His big thing is climate change as well, and environmental laws. And he doesn't want to protect the big guys. He wants to fight the big guys. He would make more money if he was protecting them. But he really feels like if we're not out of time, we almost are. And you have an altruistic soul and you will embrace all sorts of topics, but what's the one that you feel that you really have to knuckle down on?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:20:22
Yeah, I mean, the environment is definitely the most urgent issue. But I also feel like that is so interesting because if you look at all other kinds of issues like education, global education for girls, and in developing communities and you look at clean water and health, they're kind of also interconnected. And that if we put every single girl in the world and in developing communities, if we put them in school and they're able to go to university, they're able to get an education, which means they'll be able to provide for their family. And then you're kind of able to decrease the level of poverty in those places, too. And then maybe those are the women that's also able to implement the real world solutions to climate change. And you're not really able to put girls through school or actually have a good education in developing communities if they're not healthy enough to go to school. So that's kind of where health comes in. They're not healthy enough if they don't have clean water. And so that's kind of where putting wells in comes in and clean water and developing communities. So I think it's just so interesting how many issues are so deeply interconnected and that they're all kind of the pillars and everything, but I definitely think the environment is the most urgent one. But I think it's definitely the kind of thing where I've become so passionate about so many issues, and that also there are so many incredible people that are fighting climate change, and so many people with way more interesting perspectives and knowledge, the wealth of knowledge. And I'm sure with your son being an environmental lawyer, that's really heavy. And also with environmental science, and that's something that I'm not as skilled in, but something that I think is really important that more people should be doing, is shining a light on those people. I'm very comfortable saying that I don't have enough knowledge to fight climate change, but I love shining a light on other people that are fighting the fight and that are doing real actions and that are researching and that are really implementing those solutions in the world. And that's also when we learn kind of about those people, and when we learn about that there actually are good things happening in the world, then maybe we'll be motivated to take those individual actions in our everyday lives to make the world a little bit better.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:22:23
What do you think when you're like, sometimes people call you Canada's Greta Thunberg. What do you think of that? Speaking of famous people.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:22:32
I was once called, like, the Canadian Jewish Greta Thunberg, and I am so inspired by her. I think that she is incredible. But I've also been an activist in my own right for ten years, and I don't think that I should be compared at all. And I don't think no one would want to be compared to someone that's of that caliber, but just anything. And I think Greta and I are also extremely different, whereas Greta is rightfully and justifiably very angry. She's really angry at all of the really big guys and all of the people in power, which is completely fair, but I kind of take a less aggressive stance in that way. And also, I fight for so many issues, and my main issue isn't the environment. I'm really passionate about mental health and antibullying and poverty and education. I've been to Kenya three times to learn from people in Costa Rica to learn about poverty and marine life and marine mammals, and with Kenya building schools and water wells and learning from the community and then going back home and taking action through fundraising or education and awareness. And I've been bullied for my own activism. And so then writing a book and kind of using that to inspire other people to find what they are passionate about, whatever that is.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:23:41
Why would people bully you?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:23:43
Yeah, tell us a little bit more about that.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:23:45
Yeah, I was in grade eight, and it was so long ago at this point, but it's weird. It's one of those things that it feels like yesterday, but all that looking off into the distance stories.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:23:58
But I remember grade eight, and it was a lot longer ago.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:24:05
And I feel like grade eight is one of those really weird times where everyone is just trying to fit in and everyone is, I feel like, trying to be something that they're not. And at this point, I've been an activist for four years, and no one had ever really questioned me on it before. Maybe in grade eight I was getting a little bit more involved on social media because I was actually old enough to get Twitter and Instagram. So I was posting more because I was realizing that social media is the best tool that anyone can use to change the world and to really inspire people with their messages and awareness and everything like that. So all of a sudden, I was just starting getting bombarded at school. And there was a lot online that was happening. I wrote an article for Yahoo or it got published with Yahoo and AP News about Hillary Clinton. And I was like, you know, I'm still with her and whatever. And I got so many so many hate comments. I was like, 13. But then at school, then I was then being told, like, to go kill myself. I was being told that I was gay, which itself isn't even an insult, but they were using it as that in that derogatory slang terms, whatever. And any time I sort of try to stand up for myself and they would say, oh, what are you going to go do, Hannah? Write a blog about it? And just all just stupid things like that.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:25:15
But it is so stupid. Why do we let that stuff hurt us? There's so many trolls out there. I don't know. You talk about if you tell people the truth, then maybe you'll have an impact and they'll see that. But I don't know. Is that where we're heading? Can you change everything after you graduate with your journalism degree?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:25:31
Could you please?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:25:31
Hannah, could you I would really love yeah, I would love to. We have to do it together. We got to do it with the amazing trailblazers and the amazing people from my generation. But it was really hard. And I remember so many times there were a few times where I called my mom from the bathroom and she would come pick. Me up from school because I couldn't be there. It was horrible. And so we talked with the school and everything like that, and things got handled in that way. But I think because people were so intent on trying to be someone that they're not and just to fit in, just get through it, that there was no one else that would stand up for me. There was just me, myself and I, basically. And that year I sort of joined a youth group where I was really able to make so many incredible friends that literally saved me in high school. But I think that the biggest thing that I learned from that was just to always remember my why. And it's exactly that what you were saying that if there's 100 people in a room and 99 people are saying one good thing, why do we always overthink the one person that says something negative? Like, constantly? And I was receiving so many amazing feedback, but also, I was 14 years old. I was a teenager. And so of course I cared about what my friends thought, I cared about what my peers thought and people in my school and everything, especially when you're told something that heavy is like, oh, go kill yourself for activism. You can't even comprehend that in grade eight. So I think that my solution to that was really kind of just remembering my why and remembering that why am I going to let frankly stupid people stop me from doing something that I love? Not going to give them that satisfaction of winning? And also I wrote a book that year and that was kind of revenge. That was my burn book. And like, from me, basically. And I wrote a chapter in it that was basically about my time being bullied. And it was called it's not always Rainbows and butterflies. And I think that's such a powerful thing that for anyone that's successful, they never did it alone. And I think that's a very common misconception. But also that it's really never easy. And I missed so much school, those years because I was traveling and I with some missed social events and friends and inside jokes and just kind of those normal experiences, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. But kind of that whole idea that sticks and stones may break your bones, but words hurt. And that's why I kind of try now, really, to talk about bullying and mental health and be more open about it, especially with men's mental health. I think that's something that's really important and something that's not talked about enough. But that's why I'm also really lucky to have worked with companies like Dove, who is so about self esteem and I feel a really real and authentic way. And as kind of an influencer, I really try to work with brands that really care about that kind of stuff. One of their campaigns was inspiring people to just have a genuine conversation with someone and ask someone, how are you? And actually mean it, and for the other person to say something other than, oh, I'm fine. Because usually I'm fine can mean so many just a million different things.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:28:21
So it's changed a lot because I'm thinking you mentioned of was a friend of mine who was the creative director who came up with that campaign before you were born that showed imperfect women or they were £5 overweight. But now it sounds like I don't follow things enough, but it sounds like they're like involved in whole bunch of issues, which is great.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:28:43
They're incredible. And more companies need to do that. And I'm sure, like your son as a lawyer knows that, that more companies need to act.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:28:50
Not a lawyer yet.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:28:52
Oh, not a lawyer. Cross your fingers. But I think so many companies that's where the change is really going to happen. I can sit here and say we need to all take the little actions in our everyday lives that will add up to make a big difference. But it's really those companies that have the real power that can actually change things. That actually have the power to change things. But it's kind of that fine line between talking the talk and walking the walk, right. Dove actually donates millions of dollars and they really work so hard on shifting people's minds and taking that an American Eagle and Arie that they're really all about never retouching any of their photos and showing real people just as they are and showing that real beauty, which I think is beautiful. But with any issue, whether it's mental health or bullying or body image or the environment and climate change or LGBTQ plus rights, it's the companies that really need to step up and take real change. And then I think as consumers, I think we have to make that choice of whether if we want to say, no, you've done too many bad things in the past, or if we actually have that, I think humanity in us to be able to say, we acknowledge that you're doing something good and let's sort of support that.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:30:01
You'll never make it in journalism. You got to ambush people and attack people.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:30:07
I know. I'm working on it. I'm working on being mean. I can do it.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:30:11
So I read somewhere that you're obviously a media expert. You're everywhere, you're doing everything already, and now you're studying the craft or whatever at Western.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:30:20
I need your advice.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:30:22
Well, I found it interesting because I find it really difficult to be interviewed. I would rather like, ask the questions and answer them. And you said that too. So I'm wondering what's your big question? So please ask.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:30:32
Maureen Legacy, women in media and journalism, what's your advice also with that and just advice and journalism in general, but also that fine line between fighting for issues but kind of like activism and journalism and how you not care at all about issues when you're reporting.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:30:54
Well, you always do. Yeah, I mean I haven't expressed myself on the big issues when the issues change all the time. But for me, 20, 30, 40 years ago when I was starting out, the big issues were the death penalty and abortion and homosexuality and you weren't really allowed to it was way before people were talking seriously at all about climate change. But yeah, at CBC in particular, you weren't allowed to have opinions. Whereas now I think a lot of people there is very much a debate because obviously everybody's got an opinion on everything and you only read stuff that is either black or white whereas most of the world is gray. So I think that there's somewhere in the middle where you're allowed to have an opinion but who cares really? What I on this podcast, I hope people care what I think. But as a journalist I kind of wanted to be known for being fair.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:31:44
So where I would say this is where Wendy and I find our connection is that she is starts off as a serious journalist but she's still not serious when you allow her not to be. But for me it was always about a having an opinion and be making sure it's an entertaining opinion. So my job throughout the 30, 40 years that I've been in media has been to talk about serious subjects but bring a certain amount of levity so that it becomes more palatable and more and ideally more entertaining than people want to hear more from me. Is that journalism or is it comedy? Well, that's one of the things that we talk about every week on this show. But no one's going to want to hear you and you know this as well as anybody if you're pedantic about it. Right. So you've got to have a certain deafness, a certain touch to be able to engage people where they go oh yeah, actually I do care about this and it's not depressing and it's not boring. So I think that I don't even know if you want to call that journalism. Maybe it's like entertainment journalism, like the type of thing that John Stewart does or the Beaverton or any of these, but they're still sources of information that's just very biased.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:32:48
But John Stewart now is so serious.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:32:51
I know. See and then no one's listening to him because he's so serious.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:32:55
That's so interesting. Well, it's kind of like you almost grab people in by being really relatable and even that's something that as a teenager kind of being an activist, I always try to be really relatable and at least post some aspects of my life that then you kind of grab people in with those really fun parts and then you kind of like actually inspire them. Right. And you then input more serious things. And I'm doing an internship at Etak and so it's been really incredible and something that I really did not expect, kind of really implementing social issues, but also within pop culture and celebrity and gossip and the kardashians and everything like that. You grab them in with the really silly funny, like kardashians content and celebrity content, but then you input real social issues and then you inspire them that way.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:33:42
Are you on Etalk?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:33:44
She's a social media.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:33:45
Yeah, I do social media for Etak. And it's been amazing, but yeah, it's been an incredible experience for sure.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:33:52
So Maureen really wanted to ask you I always have to ask the mean questions because I'm a journalist, but I don't think this is mean. It's about your height, your teeny.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:34:01
Yeah. Oh my gosh, I'm so short. Yeah. I don't know how short I am because I never measure myself and yeah, and I'm sure, you know, my dad, he's not super tall and I'm shorter than him somehow, both my parents and stuff. And that's why it was a really big insecurity when I was younger. But I think now it's all the stupid cliche, what makes you different, makes you beautiful, but also it's a unique thing and also because I'm able to laugh at it. That's literally how I've made all my best friends, because they've seen that I can laugh at it, that I have a sense of humor and so it's kind of been a really big superpower in that way. And you know what, tiny but mighty and that's kind of my motto was.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:34:40
There a point where you realize, okay, I'm not going to grow anymore. Like my brother in law, my husband is sort of average height and his brother was tiny, but now he's like six foot something or other. Yeah, but it was like an 18. He sprung up. So maybe eat your carrots and you'll be like, six three tomorrow.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:34:58
I'll keep going. Yeah, seriously. I know a few years ago I was really disappointed because I actually went to the doctor to see if I could get like growth hormones or something like that. Apparently my body was too like the bones were fused together and all that kind of stuff. And it's so sad that my dream is to be 5ft. Why be depressed about the things that you just can't change? Yeah, you can't even change them, so why not?
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:35:23
And who cares, really, anyway?
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:35:25
And when people see me, everyone is just like really shocked. They make a comment or something. They're like, yeah, I'm short, you're wearing a red shirt. Like, who cares?
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:35:34
Yeah, who cares? Wendy and I are just sitting here smiling at you like a couple of doting ants.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:35:41
No, we're 19. We're 19.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:35:43
Well, we were 19 one, though I don't remember much about that. Listen, good luck this year. Second year should be a lot of fun. Like way more fun than the first because you know what you're dealing with. And I know we're going to be hearing about you and from you, I hope, for the rest of your life. So good luck and congratulations on everything that you've accomplished so far.
Hannah Alper (Guest) 00:36:03
Thank you. Congratulations. And thank you for the advice. I really appreciate and you're both such incredible, hardworking woman and media and so inspiring. So thank you so much for making a trail for me and for so many other women.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:36:16
You're welcome. You'll be great.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:36:20
Well, you are great. So it was so much fun to talk to you. Thank you.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:36:29
I'm not even kidding. We just sat there smiling and nodding. Look at her little duck leg.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:36:36
She's amazing. I know. I think we've realized through doing this podcast that people in journalism like me can be very long winded and have long answers and you just have to engage people as people. And she was really good at that. She obviously cares so much about issues, but she's still a bieber fan, so this is good.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:36:57
If anything, eventually she will probably focus in on something because it's too much. Yeah. Yeah, it is too much. I mean, there are so many things that need to be addressed in the world. You can't beat everything into everybody all the time, but if anybody could, she certainly can.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:37:14
I found it really interesting of her saying that when she was starting out, her parents were to just say yes, say yes. And so there was a period, and I think I'm still in it, where I kind of say yes to everything, but I'm very good at saying no. The things that I don't think are appropriate for me or for the world. But not everybody is like that. Like, I know my friend Anna Maria Tremonti, who did the current for Forever and was a foreign correspondent and a reporter with me. She feels really bad at saying no, but there's only so much if you're going to sleep or have a life, there's only so much that you can do or accomplish in your life. So I think it's important that whatever she is 19, to learn to say no to this yes to this whatever and to still have hope. I like that she calls herself or stole the line that she's a Hopaholic.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:38:00
Yeah. The other thing, too, that I find about activism and about causes and again, this conversation I've had with Ronan you probably have with Kate, is that most people have, like, oh, yes, climate change is bad and homophobia is bad, but what can you do? It's one thing. Okay, I'll make a placard and go marching in the streets. But there's got to be something more tangible and perhaps more effective. And most people don't even know where to start. And I think that Hannah doing what she does. She has these Ted Talks. She reaches out. She's probably a force to be reckoned with on campus, is there to give practical answers to people who say, what can I do that will make a difference?
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:38:37
Well, I think that's one of the most frustrating things that's happened in the last few years, maybe some would argue decades, is that people are saying, well, what can I do? My box is full of recyclables. But other than that, what difference? Doesn't mean everybody else is flying. Everybody else is eating meat with methane and whatever. Methane or whoever you pronounce it.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:38:59
You're so self absorbed.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:39:01
I'm British all of a sudden. I think they call it mete in an aluminium. But it's true. She's doing something. So I think that's great. And I hope she doesn't lose the fire.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:39:11
I don't think she will. She's had it all her life. And also, thanks for asking the tough questions there. Wendy, how tall are you? She's well over 4ft, and every inch of it is full of hope and determination. So I think the world is a better place because, Hannah, I'll present it.
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:39:29
Yeah, it was great to talk to her. Nice to see you. No one else can see you.
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:39:32
Wendy Mesley (Host) 00:39:32
Maureen Holloway (Host) 00:39:35