At its heart, Geek Bomb is fundamentally about celebrating, inspiring, and getting to know women in geek. Founded by our Boss Bomb Maude Garrett and featuring a Bomb Squad filled with diverse, talented, and totally badass ladies, Geek Bomb has a mindset much like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Females are strong as hell. And it’s about time we start celebrating that again. So, we’ve decided to relaunch Women in Geek, our interview series that spotlights, shows off, and talks about the wonderful ladies who are leading the geek entertainment field.
Joining us this week is Vanessa Hill, a video host, producer, educator, and all-around science nerd, who spoke with us about how she got started in her industry (spoiler: it’s never a linear path to success!) and the ways in which she’d like to see it change in the future.
Geek Bomb: First off, when did you realize that you were, in essence, a geek? What geeky things are you up to now?
Vanessa Hill: I don’t think there was a moment I realised because… I’ve always been a geek? I remember being terribly excited when we got our first computer when I was a kid. I was obsessed with the computer game Loom — it was amazing. Then in high school I was in the science club, loved The Sims and had multiple consoles. Excuse my nostalgia.
Now, I write and host a science series for PBS called BrainCraft. I also host a show for ABC in Australia called Sciencey.
GB: Let’s get our foot in the door by asking how you got your foot in the door. What’s your industry origin story – how did you get started? What advice can you give to those looking to break into your industry?
VH: I did a lot of internships and odd jobs. I studied science, but I was more interested in education and communication rather than working in a lab. I did internships at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, with a radio host Dr. Karl, at museum science fairs. I eventually landed a job as a science birthday party host for kids (liquid nitrogen ice cream, anyone?) and that led to my first full time gig traveling around New South Wales with a science outreach show. I blew a lot of stuff up.
GB: What is the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your industry or maybe even still overcoming?
VH: Being taken seriously as someone who communicates science, but isn’t technically a scientist. I have two science degrees, but not a PhD. I’m not a researcher; I’ve never had a staff position as such. I also don’t fit the mould of what a lot of people think a “scientist” looks like, as a young woman, for example.
GB: Picture yourself at ten years old. What advice would you give her? What would she love to know about present-day you?
VH: Follow your odd passions, no matter how unimportant it seems. They can lead to lots of weird and wonderful career paths, and you’ll be happier for it because you have a genuine interest.
She would probably like to know if I ever finished Loom.
GB: Who are your female role models and/or inspirations?
ML: As a kid I loved the TV presenter Ranger Stacey. I think it was really important for me to see a smart, funny female presenter at the time. As an adult, I’m inspired by many strong women. My Mum and Nana are badasses, [and]other celebrities like Geena Davis I really admire for working so hard behind the scenes to create more roles on screen for smart women.
GB: Who are some of your favourite fictional female characters of all time?
VH: Jessica Jones 🙌
GB: How would you like to see this industry grow for not only women, but within the entertainment space?
VH: I would like to see more real, tangible opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera. There are so many examples of female led and produced productions being successful; everyone is talking about wanting to work with female talent, yet most science media projects I work on are male dominated. Perhaps I’m the host, but the entire crew and the writers are guys. There are so many talented, geeky women in media and production, I think we can grow as an industry by looking beyond our current networks and letting more diverse people in.
GB: Where can people discover more about you? Socials/website/podcast or channel links.
Thanks again to the lovely Vanessa Hill for joining us to celebrate the magic of women in the nerd world!