Amanda De Cadenet: It Is Life And It Is Messy

Photographer and girl about town Amanda de Cadenet is laying out all her life lessons with a revealing new autobiography.

GG_COVER_Amber Zeekaf

AMANDA DE CADENET IS THE QUEEN OF MULTITASKING. She is a wife, mother, photographer, host of The Conversation(a popular interview series that focuses on power women such as Hillary Clinton and Lady Gaga)and the tour de force founder of #girlgaze(a movement aimed at empowering women through photography and directing). This fall, the 45-year-old Brit will also release two books. Harper Wave is publishing It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs and Badass Women on September 19, her deeply personal memoir that tackles uncomfortable, yet familiar, topics: ambivalence about motherhood, marriage, sex, body image; how culture influences unrealistic expectations of ourselves as women; and intimate discussions of the men in her life, ex-husband John Taylor of Duran Duran, current husband Nick Valensi of The Strokes, and longtime friend and ex-lover Keanu Reeves. On October 10, Rizzoli will release #girlgaze: How Girls See the World, a beautiful and powerful collection of images capturing young women’s perceptions — with contributions from Lynsey Addario, Sam Taylor Johnson and Inez van Lamsweerde. Here, de Cadenet opens up about opening up.

You are brutally honest in “It’s Messy.” Was putting everything out there frightening, liberating or a mixture of the two? I guess it was a mixture—there were things in the book that had to do with my childhood and earlier years, like the mention of sexual assault, that I had not [previously] discussed publicly. I felt vulnerable putting them on a page because I guess it felt more permanent. I talked about so many things on [The Conversation], but people have to search through episodes to find my stories. In the book, it’s all there. It feels incredibly vulnerable— and every time I know that someone’s read it, I feel a bit anxious!

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 12.55.38 PMWhat did you reveal that others might have been surprised to learn? I think, factually, it’ll be somewhat surprising. Some of the childhood stories — like, I spent some time in juvie — are facts people don’t know about me. Other than that, it’ll be what people expect from me: honest, vulnerable, and just me telling the truth. What was Keanu Reeves’ reaction to reading about himself? He said, “Whatever you wrote, it’s going to be fine. It’s your book.” I talk about the experiences from my point of view, and I’m respectful and mindful of others’ privacy. I’m honoring the people that have helped me and he’s one of them. Tell us about  “#girlgaze.”

What was your mission in creating it? 
#Girlgaze is an amazing ode to how girls see the world. It’s a movement that focuses on closing the gender gap by providing job opportunities for female photographers and directors and by showcasing the female perspective. The book is a curation of images that were sourced from our community (over 2.8 million global members and entries)—all proceeds from it go to The Girlgaze Foundation. We recently had an exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography and showcased some of the images, but needed a place to promote even more of the work done by these talented female photographers. Then, in the process of making the book, so many were submitted that we just had to keep adding and adding. It's Messy jacket