The ever-outspoken HBO Documentary Film president Sheila Nevins has written an amazing new book – part memoir, part short essays, part advice book – called You Don’t Look Your Age…And Other Fairy Tales (published May 2)
She spoke to IndieWire recently about the book, saying:
“A lot of stories I haven’t told. People didn’t know I was married, that my mother was a Communist, that I had a kid. I tend to talk about work accomplishments; I never talked too much about my personal life, I didn’t go back. It didn’t seem appropriate. But when you get older it doesn’t matter. I have a few things I’d like to get off my chest. It’s arithmetic. When you’re in your late ’70s, how much time do you have left? ‘OK, baby, just do it.’”
She then listed 5 rules for getting ahead in what she still says, 42 years after she started at HBO, is a man’s world.
1. Be really good at your job.
“Women can be just as untalented and talented as men,” she said. “Just because you’re a woman doesn’t give you access to the throne. It’s much harder. It’s a man’s world. There are so few places at the top. There are just so many places where you’re allowed to make things look good. There’s too few vacancies on the climb to throne; it’s more competitive among your peers, who are invariably going to be women. The other ones have already succeeded.”
2. Remember to look down.
“Look for cracks in the sidewalk,” she said. “A crack in the sidewalk can trip you. It’s always good to look down every so often, otherwise you might fall.”
3. Know your frenemy (an enemy pretending to be a friend).
“They are vibrant and real and can be the same sex,” she said. “They worry about you and your career. I had a frenemy who’d say, ‘sweetheart are you all right?’ And I was fine! With this particular frenemy, you’d get left off enough things — ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ Or you see someone walking by with your contact, going to someone else’s office. Or you go to a restaurant and your frenemy is sitting with someone you invited to lunch a month before. But you aren’t invited. Maybe because it’s so hard to be a woman in the workplace, women are not always supportive. But never destroy yourself in the search to destroy. See a frenemy, but don’t be a frenemy.”
4. Stay honest.
“I am incredibly honest,” she said, “although I learned to behave against it to get to the next day. When I’m allowed the freedom to be totally honest — how are you going to reach people if you don’t tell the truth? I sit in editing rooms trying to tell the truth. It is necessary.”
5. Wear comfortable shoes.
“Pretty ones. “