Up Next

Get Lifted

This 11-year-old interviewed Hillary Clinton for Elle.com

Marley Dias, founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, gives the Democratic nominee her toughest interview yet

When a successful young creator and entrepreneur identifies with and gains the attention of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the result is a boss interview between two completely opposite but like-minded individuals.

Eleven-year-old Marley Dias recently reached out to Clinton via email, and, unbelievably, the presidential candidate responded. The 11-year-old recently revealed the whole story of the encounter on Elle.com and noted that she too had dreams of becoming the first female president of the United States. Either way, Marley understands there is already space available in society for her to make her own indelible mark without being the president.

“That’s why I created #1000BlackGirlBooks, a book drive to collect stories about young black girls. I wanted to be represented in books and show people that it’s possible to create spaces to be seen and represented,” Marley wrote.

In 2015, Marley noticed that the books she was reading at school had little to no representation of black girls.

According to an annual analysis conducted by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, less than 10 percent of children’s books released in 2015 had a black person as the main character.

So Marley set out to find 1,000 books with black girls as main characters and ended up with more than 4,000.

The young go-getter asked Clinton about her favorite book, insecurities and her reflections of the world as an 11-year-old girl. Clinton told Marley the book she mostly identified with when she was young was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, particularly the character of Jo.

“The book was written at a time when there weren’t as many options for women and girls as there are now,” Clinton said. “Jo really struggled with that. She wanted to write, to work, to help her family. And eventually she found ways to do it, and to live the life she wanted, even though it wasn’t what society expected of her. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to chart her own course. I remember reading that book and thinking I want to be like that when I grew up.”

Clinton described a time when she felt insecure about a bad haircut she received.

“It was my first week of high school, and I was excited and nervous,” Clinton said. “At that time, I wore my hair in a ponytail or held back with a headband. When I saw the older girls with their hair in little bobs, I thought that looked so much more grown-up, so I begged my mother to take me to a real beauty parlor to get my hair cut. Our neighbor recommended a man who had a small shop behind a grocery store, and he got distracted talking to my mother and hacked off a huge chunk of my hair! I was mortified. So I tried to fix it by wearing a fake ponytail to school. And then a friend of mine accidentally pulled it off in front of everyone, which of course was a nightmare. At the time, I felt like it might have been the worst moment of my life.”

Clinton said, now that she’s older, she has a little more perspective on things that are important.

“I certainly remember what it was like to be your age and be so worried about what people thought of me. And I’m glad I didn’t know back then that I had a whole life ahead of me of people commenting on my hair.”

Clinton told Marley that if she had to live on a deserted island, she would take a phone to FaceTime with her grandkids, some chocolate to snack on and a really great book.

If Clinton could give any advice to her 11-year-old self, it would be to not listen to negativity.

“I would say that when you have a big dream or you’re trying to solve a big problem, there will always be people who tell you that you can’t. Here’s my advice: Don’t listen. Keep striving for your goals and remember that it’s good to be ambitious. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want and going after it.”

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.