• Castor Chan

Hannah Prydderch:"If I want to promote diversity in sports journalism I have to stand by my word"

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Hannah is the other half of The Purple Sector, (the first part of the series with Charlotte out last week!) and she is also a writer and editor for Motorsport Week and Inside F2. We had a lovely interview where she spoke to me about some of the things she has experienced working in motorsport media and her future hopes for the channel.

 

Castor: Who first decided you wanted to do a shared channel, and for you wanting to be a YouTuber was it always going to be about motorsports?


Hannah: I actually cannot remember who came up with the idea. I did have the idea of setting up a YouTube channel for a little while, especially when everyone was doing vlogging channels. For motorsport and F1 videos, I always fancied it but I didn’t think I would have been able to do it. My biggest issue was its quite a lot of work to do especially on the editing side of things. As a student union officer for a year and the amount of late nights I had over the weekend working, it meant that my hobbies kind of fell to the wayside and I couldn’t always follow the races. It eventually got to the point where I left my job just before lockdown happened, got home and was like ‘right I’ve now left my job, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?’


In March I met Charlotte and thought you know what, ‘if we are going to do it, I’ve got no reason not to try.’ I think I pitched it to her, and we eventually decided if we were going to give it a go, we would both do it together. We both have very different skillsets as I do most of the editing while Charlotte is an absolute whizkid on social media, so she takes the lead on that and we complement each other quite well. Then I kind of came up with a name for it, because with it being the two of us we couldn’t just do ‘Hannah and Charlotte F1’, so I came up with The Purple Sector which to be honest might be the best idea I’ve had. The blessing that came out of lockdown was that for the first time in like 6 years, I actually had a substantial amount of time to myself and was able to follow a passion of mine. I fancied motorsport journalism, I fancied content creation, so eventually it blossomed into the channel.


C: Does it ever feel like you’re put on a pedestal as a female content creator because there are expectations for you to be a role model?


H: I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing in some ways. I think having unrealistic expectations of a woman in motorsport is frustrating and there are double standards of how a woman has to do double the work to get half the credit a man would. People would also be more likely to abuse you for something that you said, like I have had comments about the tone of my voice or my looks. Would you turn around and have said it to a man? No. But I think being a role model’s important, like I’ve always tried to be one. Coming from the student politics background has meant that I’ve had a lot of attention and so I want to be a good example to people. Especially with doing The Purple Sector, my big thing is if I want to promote more diversity in motorsport and sports journalism, I have to stand by my word. And I think that oftentimes means that comes in conflict with some other people because my view is that there is enough room in the motorsport and journalism community for all of us.


The other week I was on Instagram and I spotted a group of people who had made a podcast called Sector 1, and I went and commented on them because I like going out and finding new content creators or new things to share. We interviewed Jess McFadyen very early on in the channel, and she is someone I had idolised for years, and I was very nervous myself to interview her, and I remember her saying about how kind of finding role models in the community is important. It’s strange now, I get quite a few DMs over the past months of people saying ‘we look up to you on the channel,’ and I’m thinking ‘I’ve suddenly become a role model for people!’ I had someone do a video interview with me, and I’m like ‘are you sure you have the right person and you meant me?’ Like crikey this is a bit strange but also I feel a level of responsibility that people are going to look at you for support and help. And I try to be as helpful as possible, I’m a nightmare at replying to messages to be honest, I turn my notifications off for uni and then forget to turn them back on. But whenever people have come up to me and said ‘will you come and film a video for us,’ I’m more than happy to, and ask for ideas or something, like ‘I’ve got this idea, if you want it go for it.’ Because I’m not using it, so why can’t they?


That’s always ultimately been my sticking point, that you practice what you preach. If you want more diversity, you have to stand by that word and actively try to promote it. And I’m not perfect, not by any stretch of the means I’m not, but I try to think that I’m a good person and I want to be a better one. That’s why I’m like if I can help this person out and I inspire them, hopefully it means that they’ll go on to produce something and inspire more people. And then maybe ten years down the line, we’re not going to have the conversation of women in the minority. And especially in the past couple of months, women in content creation have grown so quickly and it’s kind of a network and a sisterhood that is nice to see. Ultimately, women have to be each other’s biggest backers - and sometimes our only backers - because there’s still such a negative stigma that we are constantly trying to fight against.


The one thing I would say about that is - and I know it sounds selfish - but put yourself first.

C: Is there ever a worry that sports organisations could take you less seriously because of your gender?


H: I don’t think so, at least not with the the publications I write for, Motorsport Week and Inside F2. I started with Inside F2 back in August, I wrote a couple pieces for the blog and then decided that I wanted to cover races. I had followed them since they started and thought I’d drop them an email and see if there was room to become a writer. I was very lucky that one of the editors, this girl named L.A. , is one of the funniest, nicest people I’ve met, and she was very encouraging as well. It was good to see someone like her that worked in the industry and was always there if I needed any guidance. I felt that at least for the two publications I worked for, no one has made me feel like I know less and they trust the fact that I know what I know. And how I went from a writer to an editor for Inside F2 was because I was so relatively new to all of this, they saw what I had written and thought my skills would translate well to editing other people’s work, and it’s nice to see that trust. Then for Motorsport Week I didn’t actually apply. I got a LinkedIn message from their editor Ryan Wood that their former Formula E reporter, Chris Soulsby, had recommended me for the role. And despite me having a level of insecurity and imposter syndrome because there’s still such a stigma around women, it was great to know that they had that level of faith in me.


There’s also another part of advocating for diversity that frustrates me, in that people will make a big song and dance about how they are putting more women in higher positions, and they don’t do enough to tackle the actual little bits that do tend to annoy us. For me, that would be comments like ‘you should stick to women’s sports.’ It’s those kinds of things that people need to root out more, and you need to find a good support network of women in the community but also men who are actually willing to support you and not do it as sort of a token gesture. With motorsport, I have found lots of outspoken men which I think is actually great to see because ultimately it’s a male dominated industry. If men can do more to support women going into the sport, in whatever capacity they can, hopefully women can get into the industry and help more women. It’s a cycle and I hate the fact that there are some women out there who think ‘I’ve got my position, screw everybody else.’ They don’t want to support other women because they either see it as a competition and it’ll put them at a disadvantage, or they’re above everyone else. It also stops women in motorsport from being a niche. I don’t want it to be a niche because having more room in the community is good for humanity in general. For me, it’s all about the bigger picture and that’s why I like to support smaller creators and watch as much content as I can because I know how much one view meant to me when I started. And even now I have hundred of views, still it means a lot.

C: With the growing popularity of The Purple Sector, what has been some of your favourite experiences to come out it?


H: Interviewing Jess had to be one of my favourites, well it was nerve-racking especially as I didn’t have any interview experience prior to it. I would say another one - and it was a labour of love to get it sorted but will forever be one of my favourites - was definitely Women in Motorsport Month. A couple of other people (CCF1 channel, Mhairi Ferrier and Formula Amelia) had set up WIMM on Twitter, and it rotated between a lot of channels. It was our turn to choose the topic and I said I wanted to do a forum. I wanted to get a few fans, a few creators involved and get them on the channel to discuss diversity in motorsport. It was a lot of work and it wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it. The diversity thing did come up in a couple previous videos, but it was nice to just have an unfiltered conversation about it. We all have very strong opinions and to see other people getting involved and start conversations of their own about how motorsport needs to include more women, the reason it stands out to me goes back to the central reason of why I wanted a channel in the first place, to inspire more people. And it goes with the sisterhood aspect of it, having that community, and knowing that you weren’t the only woman in the room having that opinion. On my sports journalism course I’m the only girl, and that sometimes feels a bit isolating. It’s not that any of the guys on the course have made me feel that way, it just naturally happens. So doing that video and seeing how many of us that got involved both made me more resolved to continue sports journalism, and also hopefully encourage more conversations about it.


C: On the other hand, what was one of the hardest things you have experienced in relation to being in motorsports media?


H: A really hard thing to do was to accept that not everyone has a nice thing to say about you, and one of my colleagues has a saying that stuck with me, which was: if won’t affect you in five years don’t let it affect you for more than five minutes. I used to get upset about what people used to say and it’s kind of stuck with me now. Especially for the Formula E Open Talent Call for Presenters, I remember being so happy because I didn’t think I would get picked. I was so excited, but what really upset me and stuck in my memory during the process was how horrible some people were. There were some strangers on the internet with their opinions which was fine, but there were also people incredibly close to me that felt that I didn’t deserve it or didn’t think that I was the right fit for it. I remember there is a clip on Twitter of Formula E shortlisting us, and I’m not quite sure if it is in reference to me but there is a comment of someone saying they couldn’t understand me. And I have an odd accent, I’m Welsh but people think I sound English or Welsh depending on the time. I remember that clip coming out getting so many nasty comments from people that I knew about my voice and the way I looked, and that really knocks your confidence. The one thing I would say about that is - and I know it sounds selfish - but put yourself first. The last couple of months has taught me so much about being in media. I love what I do, but I find myself emphasising a lot of the time that I have followed motorsports all my life, or that I’m Welsh to avoid people commenting. But you are who you are and for that there’s a quote from Hamlet that I love: ‘to thine own self be true.’



C: With you being interested in more than formula racing, have you thought about covering more series on The Purple Sector?


H: Obviously right now I do Formula E for Motorsport Week and I like doing that, then Formula 2 for Inside F2 as well. Charlotte and I have always said that we want to expand on the channel, for example I did a guide to Le Mans, because I got into endurance racing and I wanted a video out there to explain it. I think the problem is at the moment with other series is that the audience level just isn’t the same. I did a race review for the finale of Formula E, and compared to our F1 ones the views were just lower. And that’s the frustrating side of things, the risk and reward. I’d love to do more and I’m a little gutted because I’d love to do a video explaining Formula E. Last year I was one of the shortlisted finalists for Formula E’s Young Presenters, and I loved the series since it started. I’d also like to do something on WSeries too, with them being alongside F1 as well because there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Many people see it as a publicity stunt but I think there is a genuine reason this series exists. Endurance racing would also be good, maybe one or two videos on rallying maybe. I’m Welsh so rallying is probably a bigger deal than formula racing here. I might cover those for another publication, but I also think now our channel is at the stage and has the backing where even if the video doesn’t do as well, I can put out content that I love and that’s what matters. This is also because I don’t do the channel because I feel obligated to, I do it because I love motorsport and talking about it.


I can put out content that I love and that’s what matters.

C: Is there a topic that you want to speak more about on the channel in the future?


H: LGBTQ representation is very close to my heart, I don’t really talk about it a lot on the channel and to be honest I should talk about it more being a bisexual woman with a mental health condition. I spent the first couple months of the channel thinking that I can’t really talk about it because I’m already in the minority enough being a woman. I think it’s also reflective of the fact that if you look at civil rights in general, women’s right to vote came first, then Martin Luther King and all that. Homosexuality wasn’t legalised until the late sixties, and it’s kind of that thing about countries too. F1 has money in its head, and women are a growing market so a female racer would be brilliant. But then a lot of countries will have it where if a racer comes out as gay, they probably wouldn’t be allowed to race or it wouldn’t be safe for them to. I cover rugby as well, and there are so few players that are openly gay, there’s still an attitude that it’s taboo. But it shouldn’t be that way, and I wish F1 with their We Race As One thing would do more. The fact that Lewis Hamilton is so vocal about it, if he wasn’t there they wouldn’t have done anything about it because they wouldn’t see it as being in their interests. That’s the problem. It should be something that you do because it’s right and I don’t understand how you can say one thing and do another. But F1 has always been like that, saying ‘we’ll campaign for environmental issues, but we’re also going to cut down the forest to build a new circuit.’ It’s like hold on, that doesn’t work. Looking at Formula E, they have a female team principal in Susie Wolff, has had female racers, and campaigns for issues like the environment and inclusivity. F1 in so many ways has fallen behind because it’s not as inclusive, and they sometimes do stuff to suit their own interests.


C: Favourite teams and drivers?


Favourite team for F1, hate to say it but Red Bull. I’ve been a Red Bull fan for years now and I don’t even know how I ended up rooting for them - I think it was just because I liked Mark Webber and David Coulthard. And also despite them being officially listed as an Austrian team, they feel British to me. Then favourite F1 driver of all time has to be be Michael Schumacher. I feel bad saying this because I’ve met Jenson Button but Michael was an absolute idol for me. Growing up I loved the red cars, (even though I’m not a massive Ferrari fan) he just embodied determination and had the willingness of going the distance of doing what he had to do. Also we have the same birthday and 3 is my lucky number.


For other series, favourite junior category team has to be Prema. I feel bad for not picking MP or UNI Virtuosi because their Twitter has me in stitches, but Prema was the first junior team I ever fell in love with. I got into motorsport around the time Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc were in the junior categories, and that video of Antonio Fuoco and Charles trying to name Monte Carlo has stayed with me. Favourite driver, there’s probably three. Mitch Evans was the first junior category I idolised, he now races for Jaguar in Formula E. He is hilarious and just a really talented driver. Then everyone’s kind of gotten a soft spot for Callum Ilott now, I wish he was in F1 I think he deserves it. Mick Schumacher too, not just because of his dad, but because he’s his own person and he proves the fact that you don’t have to instantly take to a series to be a talented driver, that it's learning and improving your race craft that makes you a good driver. You can be the fastest driver on the grid, but if you don’t evolve you’re only as good as your first couple of seasons. So yeah Mick, Callum and Mitch

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It was great to chat with Hannah to form the 4th part of my content creator series, she has so much fabulous work in the links below so be sure to check those out. This is a two-part interview with The Purple Sector girls so make sure to read last week's article with Charlotte! I would also appreciate it if you followed my Twitter to keep up to date on my new articles and share if you enjoyed it!


Socials:

Hannah's: Twitter, Instagram

The Purple Sector Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8AAT1MGNY24RFSWBXl5MUQ

The Purple Sector: Twitter, Instagram

Hannah's work with Motorsport Week: https://www.motorsportweek.com/author/hannah_prydderch/

Above photos provided by Hannah

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