Amy Stephenson-Yankuba

Company: Succulent Theatre Collective + Self-Employed copywriter

Years in business: 2

Q: What inspires you to get up every morning?

A: The fact that you don’t know which day will be your last. Also ya girl has rent to pay!

Q: When you were younger, what did you think you wanted to be? How did you end up on this path?

A: I wanted to be a pilot, but I am terrible at physics so very quickly shut that dream down. One of my goals entering uni was to start my own theatre company, and now I have the Succulent Theatre Collective! Which allows me and my collaborators to travel and share our work. I also specialised in autobiographical theatre during my undergrad and masters so I love to tell real-life stories – which is perfect for personal branding (an area I specialise in when copywriting).

Q: Can you name a really low point in your life? How did you get through that?

A: When I was a teenager, my mum developed breast cancer and shortly after fell into a severe depression. It was a very lonely time and I ended up parenting my own parent. I’d struggled with disordered eating for a long time but I soon started starving myself to cope with the stress. It was a difficult thing to overcome and is still a daily battle. Unfortunately my mother’s cancer returned in the last year, but I am much more equipped to tackle it now and so is she! Therapy, medication and having good people around me is how I’ve survived, for sure.

Q: Please tell me about an experience of discrimination you went through. How did you handle it? How has it affected you?

A: There’s too many to count. I wrote, devised and performed a play called ‘N****R’ about some of my notable experiences, ranging from micro-aggressions to flagrant racial abuse. The one that sticks out is being called that word^ to my face repeatedly in a private setting while a group of my peers stood by and said nothing. My experiences have moulded me into someone who turns their pain into educational theatre, it’s very cathartic. The play actually ended up getting me the highest mark anyone had ever received in the Human Rights module at my university.

Q: Can you remember a turning point in your career?

A: Leaving the personal branding agency I was working with to become self-employed. It was very scary stepping out alone, but I grew so much more faith in myself and I was very grateful to have a wealth of knowledge behind me thanks to working there!

Q: When you have your bad days, how do you keep going?

A: I talk. I talk to a friend or family member. A strong support network is a must.

Q: What book has helped you the most and why?

A: Everyman – the Carol Ann Duffy version. It reminds me that life is bigger than just me, makes me think about what I’ll leave behind when I’m gone and if I’m happy with that.

Q: Who is your business inspiration and why?

A: Although I don’t agree with everything she says (which she would say is a brilliant thing) – Amelia Sordell. She decided she wanted to start an agency and she bloody went for it. Hell or high water could not stop that woman. Her resilience is really inspiring to me.

Q: What tools do you use on a daily basis that help you?

A: My notes app on my phone is essential, or sticky notes on my pc. I always have ideas on the fly and if I don’t scribble them down, they’re lost to the ether forever! Also, Grammarly. Ain’t no shame in it!

Q: What does success look like to you?

A: Being able to live the life that I want and provide for my family, whatever forms those things take.

Q: Name three things you think are essential for success?

A: Passion (If you don’t really, really wanna do it, you’re not gonna want it bad enough and you’ll flop).

Empathy (Don’t be an arse, it’s that simple).

Resilience (knockbacks will happen. You’ve got to be able to pick yourself back up. Also sometimes feedback will be hard to take but constructive criticism is invaluable!)