Thinking Big with Maisie Williams is a podcast where our Co-Founder, Maisie Williams, meets with influential creatives who are paving the way in their industries. This time, Maisie sat down with Jordan Stephens, musician, actor and mental health advocate, to talk about mental health and how we view masculinity.
You may know Jordan Stephen's best as one half of the British hip-pop duo, Rizzle Kicks. Today, the Brightonian can be found on screen, appearing in Star Wars: Rogue One, Tucked, and Teen Spirit. That's not to say that he's left music behind for good; post-Rizzle Kicks, he released a darkly experimental EP, Vert, which contains explorations of love, heartbreak and substance abuse, to critical acclaim. At a stark contrast to the upbeat tracks from his earlier career, the project was a break away from the safety net that was Rizzle Kicks. Jordan explains how he feels free to explore his creativity now he's shedded the mindset that he needs validation to enjoy creating: "For a period of time, I've always been showing off to a certain extent… or I've wanted to be accepted. Now I need to create for myself, I feel way less anxious now when I create things". Having previously struggled with motivation, Maisie and Jordan discuss how he strives for high-pressure situations to get that incentive for finishing projects and often takes this to the extreme, going on to say "I'm locking myself away for a week [to write a book]." There is method to his madness however, as Jordan has recently signed a three-book deal with Bloomsbury's Children's Books.
Jordan has never been one to shy away from discussions of mental health. He has openly spoken about his struggles and how attributing roles to genders can be destructive to wellbeing, especially in regards to toxic masculinity, "You can't think of masculinity without thinking of it being toxic. We're attaching masculine and feminine too much… men and women can have toxicity in either of their energies, it's just more commonly found with a specific gender." Sometimes assigning concrete labels can cause just as much harm as the toxic behaviours. The conversation naturally turns to female experiences in the industry, where Jordan gives his view on misogyny, "there is an unconscious misogyny that occurs quite a lot… there's an undercurrent that [femininity] is seen as a lesser form." He sees a lack of female gaze in the arts and believes an increased appreciation for femininity could help men in terms of their mental health.
To hear more from Maisie and Jordan as they tackle the philosophical, talk about Jordan's life up to now and his hopes for the future, [listen to the full podcast here](https://anchor.fm/thinking-big-with-maisie-williams/episodes/Episode-6