The annual WCA Banner Brunch is always a hot ticket, but never more so with Meredith Walker, executive director and co-creator of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, as this year’s keynote speaker. Ahead of the April 16 event at Austin’s hip Hotel Van Zandt, the former TV producer talked to Texas Lifestyle Magazine.
Texas Lifestyle Magazine: What’s the number one thing you want people to know about Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls?
Meredith Walker: We are a place for information, laughter and community. Our intention is to be a safe-place, where people are able to see themselves represented, express their concerns and be their weird and wonderful selves.
TLM: Why did you and Amy Poehler create Smart Girls?
MW: Amy and I talked a lot about our pre-teen and teen years and remembered how good it felt when someone wanted to hear what we had to say; when someone let us be our goofy selves. We wanted to use what we knew to provide a healthy alternative to so much that is being marketed to young people on the Internet.
TLM: What advice would you give to your young self?
MW: Don’t let your undeveloped pre-frontal cortex allow your emotions to run the show. Solve mysteries! Go on quests! Explore!
TLM: It seems like Smart Girls and the First Lady share a similar mission. Were you able to meet her on her recent visit to SXSW?
MW: We are collaborating with the First Lady on her Let Girls Learn initiative. However, in an interesting twist, while Mrs. Obama was here in Austin, I flew to Washington, D.C. to meet President Obama. I admire him immensely. So, talking with him was the most electric moment of my adult life… I am proud that he thinks we are doing good works at Smart Girls.
TLM: How was the rest of your SX experience?
MW: Anytime I get to talk about Smart Girls and all that we do, I am having a good time, and I enjoy being on panels with like-minded women who are putting their lives to good use. I have to say though that the most fun was having the Cartoon Network present me with artwork depicting me as a Power Puff Girl. That was pretty cool.
TLM: What are three of your favorite things to do in the ATX?
MW: Limiting me to three things is not fair!
I LOVE swimming in Barton Springs.
I LOVE hiking the Hill of Life.
I LOVE viewing the art at the ever-changing Hope Outdoor Gallery.
TLM: What made you move here?
MW: I moved to Austin because it was affordable (R.I.P.). Austin was also a great place for a fresh look at life and a great environment in which to imagine a future. Austin’s also groovy and filled with thinkers who participate in life. The perfect incubator for Smart Girls headquarters.