Birmingham-born Fenn O’Meally is by no means just another pretty face. As the face of streetwear blog, Highsnobiety, and BBC 1Xtra’s “Girl on the Ground,” though, Fenn is quickly carving her way through the media world, engaging with some of fashion and music’s most captivating characters, from both ends of the camera.
Having filmed for names such as Nike, Alexa Chung, House of Holland, and most recently, Paul Smith, the 24-year-old media-renaissance-woman is broadening the scope of what it means to be a creative today, illuminating a niche for a diverse array of creatives and personalities throughout her conversant approach to modern-day storytelling. Fenn’s will-do attitude serves as a multitude of inspiration—a reminder that success can be ours, as long as we are willing to reach to the depths for it.
Jessica Gianelli: You seem to have embarked on a path that began with either modelling or journalism. Which came first? And how has that background influenced your creative agenda?
Fenn O’Meally: My career really began in TV and journalism. I was studying English Linguistics whilst interning for ITV and writing for magazines. Living in London, opportunities of modelling came up here and there and I took them, but knew my look wasn't strong enough to provide a successful career. Personally, I really didn't get a buzz out of it either, but rather I found storytelling and interviewing people made my world light up. I was fascinated with the world of TV and radio and meeting new people on a daily basis.
J G: You’re the face of streetwear blog Highsnobiety, and with clients ranging from the BBC to DAZED, and Paul Smith, your career seems rather multifaceted. How did you find yourself in these roles? Is there any one that you identify most closely with?
F O’M: It’s all kind of mad looking back, [all of] these incredible opportunities coming my way and whilst they do seem quite different from the outside, they all require one common skill—an ability to interview and tell a story in an honest and relatable way. When it comes to successful people I meet, I want to be able to help tell their stories illustrating the realities of what success is and the proximity we all have to it if we really want it. This is something I really pride myself in, and the fact that I have developed a set of strong skills in filming, editing, and producing alongside was to provide a platform for my interviews and others’ stories. I then fell in love with and was fascinated by this skill set and maybe I’m a slight perfectionist!
J G: Both in front of and behind the lens you are paving your way through the media industry, and this unique placement seems to afford you quite an interesting perspective for engaging in a narrative that’s as much curious as it is informed. Are there any subjects that you’re particularly drawn to report or film about? Which subjects do you find the most challenging?
F O’M: I think it really is about sharing the stories of others. Today we see so much success, but rarely do we see the workforce, the lows, the fuck-ups behind it, and I think that’s something that really needs to change. There’s very little room for error in the limelight – but why? I’d love to think I’m helping change that.
J G: You’ve recently released a film for British heritage brand Paul Smith, which embraces a beautiful array of personalities, floating notions of acceptance and individuality. In a cultural climate where tolerances and stigmas are continually being challenged, do you feel that media within the creative industry has the capacity to influence change?
F O’M: Massively! I think we’d be foolish to think otherwise. And we can already see change happening. For example, the power of black music is being embraced globally more than ever and rightfully so. There is far too much talent and strength in black culture to be ignored. Obviously, there is so much more room for change and there needs to be an awareness of the difference between a “token gesture” and actual change.
J G: The media industry has a tendency to be quite penetrating and consuming of both time and energy. How do you manage finding time for all your goals as well as your day to day life—is there any kind of hierarchy of importance for you?
F O’M: It is really hard, to be honest, and I think finding that “balance” will be a never-ending mission. As long as I feel like I am doing something every day that makes me happy and enables me to learn, I am in some way contributing to my own strength as a creative. Whether that be in mindset, intelligence, rest, health, friendships. I’ve really learnt this year that it is time to stop punishing myself for not working every minute of every hour – because good health and a rested mind are the best foundation for creativity.
J G: Your Instagram is brimming with inspirational images, anecdotes, and colourful snippets of your experiences. With thousands of watchers, can “life on the gram” ever get too overbearing?
F O’M: Of course! But my work really requires a lot of focus, research and prep time, so I don't get that much time to dwell on Instagram. I do think though that it’s important to distance yourself from Instagram and your phone every now and then – just turn it off for a weekend, it feels amazing!
J G: Who or what is your greatest source of inspiration?
F O’M: The beautiful creative minds I surround myself with on a daily basis.