It’s hard not to love Laura Whitmore.
When the TV presenter, broadcaster and actress isn’t juggling her variety of ongoing projects and appearances, she’s using her platform to raise awareness about a number of important issues from the gender pay gap to abortion access in Northern Ireland.
And her list of achievements doesn’t stop there. Alongside being a former stylist.co.uk guest editor (where she dedicated her takeover to “speaking up” for women’s voices), she’s also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and has spoken out about the moment she was sexually assaulted in a nightclub, calling for a stop to women “being trivialised and gossiped about” in the media.
“I want to remind everyone that we have a responsibility to speak up,” Whitmore wrote in an essay she published for her stylist.co.uk takeover.
“Queen Bey said ‘Perfection is the disease of a nation’. Beyoncé knows,” she continued. “We need to give ourselves a break… but we also need to remember we have a responsibility. If people stay in their own little bubbles, none of us will reach our full potential.”
And now, Laura Whitmore is breaking her own “little bubble” once more, launching a brand-new project of her very own. CASTaway, her new podcast, sees Whitmore sit down with a selection of celebrity guests and well-known personalities to discuss all things podcasts: from the ones they love to their favourite moments.
Stylist caught up with Laura Whitmore as she embarks on this new exciting project.
How did you come up with the idea for CASTaway?
I was approached by a production company who have created some very successful podcasts such as Deliciously Ella’s podcast and Limitless with Josh Patterson. To be honest, I was against doing a podcast as there are so many brilliant ones out there – I like listening to them but I didn’t want to necessarily make one as I felt unless you have something new or different to add, it was pointless.
When I heard the the initial idea of CASTaway, we played around with how we could make a podcast about podcasts. I liked the idea because it’s like talking about that show you’ve just seen on telly with a mate and that’s usually how I end up watching things – by recommendation. Podcasts are the same.
You also learn a lot about someone from their listening habits. Sometimes too much! Matt Smith and Judi Dench’s are great ones. Oh and Russell Brand’s. Actually, they are all great in their own way.
Who is your dream CASTaway guest?
At the moment it’s David Tennant because I adore his podcast. As an actor, he’s an incredible story teller, but he’s also a brilliant interviewer. He is also a great listener and gives a safe space for his guests just to open up and have an honest conversation. He never makes it about himself. Most of my guests in series one, bar one, have their own podcasts – which was intentional.
My producer has promised me we’ll get David on, so I’ve set her the challenge. My boyfriend is jealous because he’s threatened that David’s accent sounds like his, but better! I can’t comment either way.
What’s your most memorable podcast experience?
I started listening to Serial but remember being home alone and the electricity went – I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared! It’s like watching a scary movie alone but podcasts are more personal as they’re in your head.
What’s your advice for someone who has never listened to a podcast before?
It depends on what appeals to you. There are so many out there. It just a modern day form of storytelling. The first one I recommend you listen to is mine, CASTaway (shameless plug!) as it will introduce you to why people are drawn to podcasts and give you great recommendations.
If you could appear on one podcast as a guest, which one would you choose and why?
Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations because it’s an institute at this stage. And then I’d meet Oprah. And we’d be friends forever. Whether she wants to or not. If she reads this, Oprah I want to be your friend! (I have no chance now).
You’ve spoken about dealing with imposter syndrome before: has this been something you’ve dealt with while creating CASTaway?
I think we’re all winging it. But if you have passion and authenticity, you’ll be okay.
You’ve received some backlash for speaking up about the gender pay gap on Instagram: is this a conversation that’s particularly important to you?
I actually forgot about this as I didn’t really think of it as backlash – I thought of it as the usual trolls who will knock any form of speaking out. I reposted figures compiled by the United Nations about the gender pay gap. And, as expected, you’ll get positive and negative comments. I feel blessed to earn what I think I’m worth and my gender hasn’t been an issue financially (although I’ve struggles with other gender issues) but sadly that is not the case everywhere, including this country. If you have any platform and a voice, I think it’s important to use it.
What would you say to those people who criticised you for that post?
People who leave comments saying “women should get paid less because they aren’t as good” don’t really deserve a response.
Are there any podcasts you and Iain listen to together?
We’ve just been on a road trip across the USA coast to coast and there were a lot of podcasts that we listened to together. There was a lot of miles to get through! The Blindboy Podcast pops up a lot (every Wednesday). He got me into The Adam Buxton Podcast and I got him into The High Low with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. There’s a really funny reference in my first episode of CASTaway with Iain about Adam Buxton and Louis Theroux. It involves impressive editing and a disco classic!