We have a very special woman to share with all of you today! This week we are honored to have YGTG Army member Emily Villani as our #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY! Emily is a native Torontian, a current full-time student and round-the-clock advocate for the equality of women. What we love most about Emily is her childlike spirit and how organically her brightful presence spreads good energy to all those around her. Her optimistic nature is what continually motivates her to keep moving forward and face her fears by silencing any negativity or doubt that may try to surface.

Emily is currently a second year student at the University of Toronto, where she is working towards a double major in Theatre and Equity Studies with a focus on disability studies. This past summer, Emily worked as an inclusion camp counsellor, which is a one-to-one support staff for young campers with exceptionalities. Emily says, “Doing that work was the most rewarding experience of my life, and has impacted me deeply”. She hopes to continue to do more of this work in the future and build a career that marries her two biggest passions – caring for others and the performing arts. When Emily isn’t in her books, you can find her on stage… where Emily says she feels most like herself. There is nothing this big dreamer loves to do more than to sing, dance and act. She is an active member of the drama community at the University of Toronto and has most recently performed in a production of “A New Brain”. She will also be performing in an upcoming production of “Mamma Mia” in March! Additionally, Emily has worked as a summer camp counsellor for a performing arts camp over the past six years.

It is so inspiring to see how well Emily knows herself and the impact she wants to make in her community. This is a woman who understands how we are all connected and she has made it her mission to do her part in making a difference in the lives of others. We can’t wait to see the good that Emily will bring into the world. We all know that you cannot stop a girl with a compassionate soul and determined heart! Above all, Emily believes in keeping the magic alive in her day-to-day life. By doing those things that light you up and trusting that you can have anything you want, you can create the life you’ve always imagined. Thank you Emily for showing us that our lives are made from authentic connection and undying faith!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

In your opinion, what is the most important thing for girls to learn while they are young?

The first thing that comes to my mind is empathy. There is such a wonderful, beautiful thing in empathy that I think a lot of the world lacks. While it is so important to look out for yourself, and understand the power that you possess (and never let anyone take that power from you), it is equally important to live life with empathy. We currently live in a society which sees tearing people down, as the way to get ahead. We watch TV reports and read articles about a world that is filled with hate, a world that doesn’t listen to voices of people who are hurting. I think growing up with empathy is to grow up with mindfulness, and an awareness of the people around us. There is nothing bad about trying to understand one another. In empathy, we find connection, friendship, and happiness.

How do you stay motivated? What words do you live by whether it’s a phrase, motto or mantra that helps you get through a tough day?

I have two mottos that I’ve lived by since I was in grade eight. The first, “never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” reminds me that I should just go for it! If I let myself be overtaken by the fear of failure, to whatever capacity that might be, then I’ll never know what could have been. So often I let my anxiety stop me from doing the things I want to do. This motto reminds me to go for the things anxiety tells me not to do! The other, “excelsior” reminds me to look to the silver linings that exist in every part of life. The word itself means onward and upward, and I use it to pull myself out of bad days. Excelsior reminds me that while I might be having a bad day today, there is something out there to look forward to.

A lot of us can relate to the struggle of being in our own heads and can end up talking ourselves out of things we really want to do. How do you motivate yourself to continue to push through the moment of self-doubt?

I am SUCH a victim of listening too much to my negative thoughts!! I think the first step to actually motivating myself is to acknowledge what I am doing. When I’m aware that I am overthinking, I often realize that the only thing stopping me from doing what I want to do is myself. A lot of my motivation comes out of that realization. I want to live a life without regrets, and that can only be achieved if I allow myself to stop thinking, and go for it. The best feeling in the whole world is when I can push myself to get out of my head, and do it. It makes me feel strong, and reminds me that I am strong. It’s kind of like a cycle for me: I overthink, I make myself aware of those thoughts, I push myself out of my comfort zone, and once I do it (whatever that thing may be), I feel a strength that pushes me to go for it the next time.

Why is it important for women to be in charge of their finances?

As a university student, this question is super important. If you get in the habit of saving and spending wisely at a young age, you will gain so much independence, and with that, you will be able to do what you want to do with your life. I also wanna talk about the wage gap for a second: according to Statistics Canada, in 2017, Canadian women earned only 87 cents to every dollar a man earned. Women are working hard for their money, and these injustices continue to exist. Knowing what money we earn, when we’re earning it, and keeping track of it, will bring us one step closer to being able to fight for equal pay.

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

A YGTGirl is a woman who is part of the fight towards empowering woman! She is compassionate, powerful and STRONG! I love the fact that a YGTGirl can be completely, unapologetically herself in every single way. She’s someone who embraces every inch of her personality, and is proud of showing that to the world!