Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Gemma Cairney: This is what 30 looks like

GC_059 (002).jpg

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, Stylist speaks to BBC Radio 1 and TV presenter Gemma Cairney about what life is like for a 30-year-old woman in Britain

Tell us about yourself in 100 words

I live in a mind melt of different situations, through my work and social life — I wouldn't have it any other way. I love different sorts of people, their stories, all the different facets, that make them, them. This is entwined with how I am compelled to tell many of these stories and have ended up being a broadcaster after originally going to drama school and working in fashion for a bit. I love most things in my life. I feel it's important to try and live life through adventure, colour and love. 

What are the greatest challenges you face? 

Feeling overwhelmed and a bit manic. I'm sensitive and think loads — it's probably what I love and hate the most about myself. It means I have lots of ideas and put pressure on myself to action them all. This can make life very busy so organisation can sometimes be crazy. I also worry and always want everyone around me to be okay.

How would you define happiness?

A pink sunset - one of the reasons I moved to the seaside in Margate.

What is your biggest ambition?

To always look after myself and create a joyous environment in my home. To remain brave when it comes to the work I undertake and continue working on projects with people that spark imagination, challenge or incite a damn good time — be that a radio show filled with music or produceing a specialist documentary. And to write a book I am happy with! 

Is this where you saw yourself at 30?

I kind of never thought that far ahead. Whenever I did, I imagined a life of struggle — I'm not sure why — but when I look back, I feel like I was subliminally bracing myself for it. So I'm pleasantly surprised that things are going alright.

What do you wish you could tell every woman?

That they can do anything beyond their wildest dreams.


Gemma says: "Women can do anything beyond their wildest dreams"

Gemma says: "Women can do anything beyond their wildest dreams"

What is your biggest fear?

It all ending. I guess this is death, right?

What is your most prized possession?

My Terry de Havilland shoes, that he made me for my birthday last year. They are called the 'Drippy Candle' shoes and are a collaboration with another extraordinarily minded designer I know called Mary Benson. They are so beautiful and mean so much because I love that man — a cobbler in his 70's still creating after 50 years of making. They are more than shoes —  they encapsulate a spirit of disco. And my house by the sea — I'm in love with that too! 

Do you think women are equal to men, and why?

No, because we are still focussing too much on gender. If we all just gave ourselves a break, knowing that we could all be everything, we'd feel relieved and more equal.

What are you most proud of in your life?

My friends and some of the places I've visited on the planet.

What do you hope for in 10 years?

Generally, for the world to be more of a hopeful place to grow up in. Personally, to just be having a nice time, in a house filled with lots of yummy food, conversation and dancing from time to time.

What woman has inspired you - and why?

There are so many. My best friend [Beth] springs to mind right now. I see her nearly every day because we often work together too. We laugh too much.

What do you eat as a treat?

A lamb madras and mushroom rice. 


Roshana Mehdian 047 a vs1.jpg

Junior doctor picked for the cover of this week’s Stylist


The gender pay gap extends to sellers on eBay


A tale of four cities: the rise of the globe-trotting career nomad


Why is applying make-up on the train so divisive?


How to nail a promotion at work without asking for it


Model hits back at racist comments on Mac’s Instagram account

lena dunham.jpg

Lena Dunham apologises for false Photoshop claims against magazine


Female authors who used male pseudonyms to challenge convention

cinderella proposal.jpg

We don’t need permission: why it’s time to abolish leap year proposals



How to be a nasty woman: Stylist's 9 step guide

A must-read for all women considering themselves 'good girls'

by Harriet Hall
21 Oct 2016

Totally fetch: Rachel McAdams is on board with a Mean Girls reunion

Shut up.

by Moya Crockett
21 Oct 2016

“Criminalising purchase would be a danger to sex workers”

...argues sex worker and activist, Molly Smith

by The Stylist web team
20 Oct 2016

Eyebrows ahoy... A Cara Delevingne documentary is on its way

The Cara Project will follow Delevingne’s transition from model to actress.

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2016

The best A-list Instagrams of the week so far

From Emily Ratajkowski's team colours to Mindy Kaling's scarlet style

by Nicola Colyer
20 Oct 2016

Hilary Swank wins Oscars, still offered 5% of a male co-star's wage

Because woman < man

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2016

Ellen DeGeneres reveals the secret to her happy marriage

And it's brilliantly simple

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2016

Amy Schumer shares open letter to Donald Trump supporters

“I shouldn’t have said that he was an orange, sexually-assaulting, fake-college-starting monster.”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2016

Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall opens up about anorexia battle

“I just wanted to waste away and disappear”

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016

Kerry Washington chooses old-fashioned name for baby boy

The Scandal star has welcomed her second baby with husband Nnamdi Asomugha

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016