Audrey Brown was born in Kliptown, South Africa. Inspired as a child by journalists such as Maud Motanyane and Don Mattera, she later obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism, African history and politics from Rhodes University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Wales, and is now a broadcast journalist with the BBC World Service. Brown has been particularly influenced by her mother, Beatrice, a fierce Catholic divorcee; her beloved uncle, Gene; and the fact that she is the only girl in a family of five children.
Audrey Brown was interviewed about her life, career and hope for the future for 200 WOMEN, a book and exhibition project founded on the principle of gender equality comprising original interviews and accompanying photographic portraits. This landmark project is the realisation of an epic global journey to find two hundred women with diverse backgrounds, and to ask them what really matters to them.
Q. What really matters to you?
It matters to me that we don’t have enough for everyone, and that I don’t do enough about that. I am deeply thankful to people who go out of their way to do things to change the world. I thought that my job as a journalist would be something that could change the world but it doesn’t always feel like it does that enough.
I want my nieces and nephews to feel special. When I was a child, it was my uncle, Gene, who made me aware of my true place in the world, and that it could be skewed by the particular ideology in South Africa at the time that was designed to tell me that I wasn’t good enough. He made it clear to my brothers and me that we were exceptional human beings.
Q. What brings you happiness?
I would say the place and time when I am most happy is when I’m watching a thunderstorm in the dark, or playing swords with my nieces.
Q. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Personally, it is not knowing when next I’m going home to South Africa. I’ve lived in the United Kingdom for about eleven years. I’m an earthling and home is everywhere – yes – but I am a South African as well.
On the macro level, I feel unfairness and inequality very deeply. It’s no accident that children say, ‘That’s not fair!’ They recognise a lack of fairness.
Q. What would you change if you could?
We all want the world to be fairer, we all want to banish white-supremacist racist thinking. But that’s not just going to happen, we’re going to have to make it happen. I want human beings to be imbued with the spirit of excellence: to want to do the best that they can in any endeavour.
Q. Which single word do you most identify with?
The message I’d want to convey is, ‘Be excellent.’ But what sticks with me is ‘kindness.’ Just be kind.