She's one of my favorite contestants, on one of my favorite shows. I got to be a bit of a fanboy while interviewing Briony, who was a semi-finalist on The Great British Bake Off, and is now a presenter on Britain's Channel 4 show - Food Unwrapped. Briony speaks about how she got into baking; what it was like auditioning for the show; how and why she became a disability advocate; her close-knit family; and more. At the end I got to have additional selfish joy by speaking with her about Bridgerton. I will not be judged! LOL
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Naveh Eldar 0:18
Welcome to the landscape, a podcast to shed light on the people, programs and businesses that are changing the landscape for individuals with any type of disability. I'm your host Naveh Eldar. Today's guest is brioni mae Williams, who after being a semifinalist on the Great British Bake Off, is now a presenter on the British show food unwrapped. Today we speak about the process of getting on the Great British Bake Off, becoming a disability advocate, family, and more. If you're an American, you may be slightly confused as the show is called the Great British baking show in the United States on Netflix. But since I'm a purist, I will never call it that. If you are new to the landscape, make sure to subscribe, share with friends and leave a review if you listen on Apple podcast. Now, today's conversation starts with Briony speaking about when she first got into baking.
Briony May Williams 1:18
I have memories of baking with my mum and my nan in the kitchen baking things like fairy cakes, and little butterfly cakes and with lots of sprinkles on pancakes. But apart from that I don't have a lot of memories of baking when I was younger. I remember having a headset when I was about five or six at my birthday party because I didn't want them to cut the my pumpkin birthday cake that my nan had made. Because I loved it so much. My birthday is the day before Halloween. I loved it so much. I was like you cannot cut that cake. I love it too much. So I was like five or six having complete meltdown at my part because I didn't want them to okay. So that's one of my earliest memories of cake. But I didn't actually get properly into baking until 2013. So for me, that's when when the love of baking kind of started. Because I was off work. I wasn't very well for about nine months, and they didn't really know what was going on. It turned out to be PCs, polycystic ovarian syndrome, causing different random symptoms that were making me feel very unwell. But during those nine months, I was so bored. Because I'm not very good at doing not doing anything even though I felt really ill. I was still like, oh god, I'm going crazy. So the school that I worked at at school, I was a teacher at the time. And the nurse at the school said, Why don't you try something like baking is something you can do at home, you know, it doesn't take an awful lot of energy, you can just kind of do a little bit baking and you've got a product at the end of it. And so I started and I loved it. And I started just making sort of shortbread, and biscuits and then I moved on and started doing some novelty cakes. Like I made a penguin cake for my sister in law. And then I made a minion cake for my brother. And he just went from there really, and I learned a lot of stuff of YouTube. And my Yeah, just sort of snowballed. And then I was always the one who made people's birthday cake. And making friends wedding cakes as well. So it kind of, you know, started very much as a therapy for me. And I just I still have that, you know, it wasn't very therapeutic during. stressful in that right? I feel like now, it's kind of it's back to kind of being my therapy. I just I really find it very calming. When you're not doing it in a 34 degree. You know, heat in a tent. with poor Hollywood's gaze on you, right? It's, that's when you get stressed.
Naveh Eldar 3:43
So it is major for somebody to trust you to make their wedding cake. How do ya how long did it take you to get from? I'm trying this for the first time to I think I can pull off a wedding cake.
Briony May Williams 3:55
I know. Yeah, it was for one of my uni friends. The first one I did. And we were talking about it. And I've made all these kind of random cakes. And she said, Well, you know, would you would you make my wedding cake. I was like, well, that is a lot of money. Give me that. Right. And but I felt at that point that I was I was ready about like, you know, I could it was I think it was 2001 was it 2004 seen by that point. But I've been baking for like year and a half and I was feeling a little bit more confident. But yeah, it was like, Okay, I'll do it. And then when that one went, well obviously other friends were like, well, I've only ever made it for friends or family or wedding cake because it's such a lot of work. It really needs to be someone that you care about. Right? You're hearing it for I find otherwise it's just not worth it.
Naveh Eldar 4:42
And then so that eventually led to Well, I don't know when but eventually ended up on the Great British Bake Off which I'm a big fan of the show. And something I didn't know until I started doing research for this interview is that you have to be an amateur Baker. own a bakery or anything like that. So who was it your ideal to apply and take us through that process? Like how how did you decide to apply for the show? And then what was the that application process? Like?
Unknown Speaker 5:14
Briony May Williams 5:15
it was a very spur of the moment. I never AM, I've genuinely mean this. I never thought I'd get on in a million years. I didn't think I was good enough. You know, even when I stepped into that tent, I was like, I shouldn't be here. Why am I here? You know, I just didn't feel like I but it was one of those things that I just kind of sent off and thought, I send it off, you know, right, whatever. Maybe I'll spend the next year practicing and try properly next year. And then I kept getting these phone calls from a London number. And I thought they were trying to serve trying to sell me PPI or try and tell me that, you know, I have this PPI outstanding. And so I'm ignoring the calls, ignoring the calls, and I listened to Mark's phone, it's like, oh, hi, it's um, it's Frankie from bakeoff. Here, we're just wondering if you could give us a call back. And he said, when I call back, he said, we were just about to give up on you.
Unknown Speaker 6:06
Wow. Oh, gosh, can
Briony May Williams 6:08
you imagine listening? is months late. So and then you have like a long phone call chat with them. And then you do some regional round, regional live audition. London audition. You have to talk to a psychiatrist, a psychiatrist, check. You're not that you can cope with the pressure.
Unknown Speaker 6:30
Briony May Williams 6:32
yeah, so it's the process. And it's pretty intense. Like you literally I found I was baking the whole time. Because you're constantly sending them pictures of what you've been baking, you know, your different skills, that kind of thing. So yeah, it's it's pretty mega, and then I found out I was on in the mark. And then you can't tell anyone until August. Okay. So you film end of March until the beginning of July. That's April, May, June, basically. And then you finish at the beginning of July. And then obviously, you've got to keep keep the secret about who won until the end of August, then they released your name and then then it goes mad. But yeah, we're talking if they you have to be an amateur Baker, I, they were asking me during my audition. Have you ever worked anywhere where you sold baked goods? And I said away? I worked in a cafe when I was 1617. Did you make any of the cakes? I was like, they would barely let me in the kitchen? 16 there? No, no way. They
Naveh Eldar 7:34
didn't let me make any of those cakes. So yeah, they're very, very strict about the fact that you have to have, you know, no. professional background. And then being on the show. Did you feel like every single week you were going to be kicked off? Or did you? Or did you gain confidence as you go? Like, how did how did you feel? Yeah,
Briony May Williams 7:56
I did I the first week, I gained a lot of confidence because it went really well. And I was really pleased, you know almost got star Baker. I was like not expecting it at all. It was really, it was a really good week. And then the second week was awful when I nearly went you know, I was on the list of people who might go home. third week. I'm not great was all right, fourth week, awful. I would have gone home if Terry had been there. And then week five, is when I started to believe in myself a bit more. And I sort of thought, okay, that's when we have to make the biscuit chandelier. I mean, what even is that? I remember googling biscuit chandelier and there was nothing on the entire internet. Can you imagine? Nothing? No, there's no time. zip. Yeah, and then week five. I was like, okay, maybe I can do this. You know. And then Week Six, I got started a class like,
Unknown Speaker 8:47
oh my god.
Briony May Williams 8:47
Oh my god, this is amazing. And then I think the next few weeks I was you know, more confident I still was quite unsure of myself but more confident I had been. But week seven and eight and I did quite well on those weeks. And then week nine everything went wrong when I went home. So
Naveh Eldar 9:03
it's amazing that you remember the details of the episodes like that, like like how impactful it was on you?
Briony May Williams 9:09
Oh, yeah, it was one of the biggest experiences in my life if not the biggest.
Naveh Eldar 9:13
And I rewatch one episode I saw the whole season but last night I was like let me watch another episode. And it was such a roller coaster just watching you because you didn't do it was the episode before the the semi finals. And you didn't do well on the first bake. Like it really didn't go well for you. And you and you cried and I was like,
Unknown Speaker 9:33
Oh no, but Danish week. Yeah.
Naveh Eldar 9:35
But then you won the technical. And I'm like a roller coaster ride. It must be to be on the show.
Briony May Williams 9:42
That week was mad because I yeah, that that first challenge was so brutal. The judging was so brutal. You know, Sandy actually came to find me afterwards because she was like, you're right.
Unknown Speaker 9:54
Briony May Williams 9:56
I was and it was a really quick turnaround for some reason. So I was still Firing, when we have to go back in and do the technical. I was I remember being stood behind my bench and thinking, right, there's two ways that this could go. Either I just go, you know, give up and think sold it, this is just going to be really awful. I'm not in the right headspace, I thought or I can channel that energy and try and kick some butt. And yeah, I managed by some miracle to come first. And it was like, Ah, well, right. And that kind of gave me the confidence to come in, like to do better the next day. I think if that had gone badly as well, I would have just gone. I'm out.
Naveh Eldar 10:35
One of the things I like about the show is that the bakers seem to really form friendships on it. Like they, you know, they always have a little montage at the end of like afterwards how they're meeting each other hanging out with each other. So do you keep in contact with people from your season? and other seasons sometimes, or is it usually only with your season?
Briony May Williams 10:54
Oh, no, I'm very close to Ruby, Imelda. And Anthony from my season, you know, we've got a little whatsapp group and we're texting all the time. You know, try and FaceTime if we can I actually worked with Ruby, last week or the week before, for something that I was filming, which was really lovely. And I was in Belfast in November, filming something and got to see Imelda when I was there, so you know, it's it as much as we can, we will try and see each other. And then from other years, Michael is a very good friend who was on the year after me. And Steven the year before me and Tom, they're good friends as well. So I think you know, I'm very lucky that it's kind of like you during this alumni when you when you get on base off, and you have this instant connection with people. I remember I went to chat nerd remember chat? No, he was on. remember her? She was on like a few years before me?
Naveh Eldar 11:48
Yes, yes, I
Briony May Williams 11:49
think it was when I was still on the BBC. And the BBC. And I went to her, she invited me to one of her book launches. This is obviously a couple of years ago, pre COVID when we could have parties. And I remember I went and I was like a kid in a sweatshop. There's not you know, I was a fan of bakeoff when I went on there. So for me to be in this room full of bakers from bakeoff. I was just in my eyes just didn't happen. Everywhere I looked. And that's the night I met Stephen and I completely fangirled all over him. And we just I just ever looked at literally all this I read it was great. And, you know, you just have this instant thing to talk about in the connection. And yeah, it's great. It's lovely.
Naveh Eldar 12:32
I like I said, I like connections I like when seeing people of different backgrounds come together. And it's just it's absolutely something that's a great thing about the show. So something I'm curious about is again, obviously I'm American. is baking, very popular in England, or does it just appear like that? Because Because you're not the only show that features a British Baker. So is baking something that's like a staple of your country?
Briony May Williams 13:01
It is Yeah, I mean, it's a very kind of traditional British thing. But I think until bakeoff came along, it was very much something that your Nan Did you know? Yes. So yes, yeah, like so my nan was a home home economics teacher, you know, and it was very much that generation of the, you know, your Nan baked or whatever. But then when Bake Off came along, when it started to really get very popular. It kind of made baking cool again, right? So it seems that very much the the popularity of baking has gone in line with the popularity of Bake Off. So you know, you've got kids as young as five or six who watch bakeoff you know, and they come up to me and then I do a Bake Off like you're so tiny, you know, and teenagers as well like baking, you can baking quite cool. Now you can do these amazing things. And you can learn so much from the internet. You know, now we've got jr bakeoff which I don't think you guys have in the US i don't think so i
Naveh Eldar 13:59
haven't seen it
Briony May Williams 13:59
shipped send it over to you guys because it's it's so good. You know, these kids are amazing. They're like nine and they're producing the most amazing beats. Yeah, so I think I think there's definitely a correlation between the two. That baking is more popular again. So yeah, I'd say and, and in lockdown, particularly. It's, you know, March last year, a lot of people have taken up baking, keep themselves occupied. Sure. You know, like banana bread. I'm sure you've seen it too.
Naveh Eldar 14:26
sourdough too much too much bread,
Briony May Williams 14:28
too much. Banana Bread. So yeah, so yeah, definitely. It's gained popularity.
Naveh Eldar 14:36
One of the interesting things is that you won you are given from what I understand. I listened to a few of your podcasts one was from I think, a couple years ago, and it was based on reality shows and there was an American who was on a reality show and then she was interviewing you. So I understand that they asked you if you want it at all. And accommodation, because of your limb difference, or if you want it to feature it or or any kind of way, and you decided not to either one, he's like, I don't need an accommodation. And let's just bake, right? Yeah. So, one, why did you make that decision? And two words, were they that kind to work with, because you know, like American reality TV is known to kind of manipulate really the people that are on the show for their own, you know, ratings,
Briony May Williams 15:32
from my point of view, and from my experience, bakeoff never did that, you know, love productions who make bakeoff are an amazing, you know, they're a great company. And I never felt anything but supported by them. So, you know, for me, they they asked me and said, you know, how do you want to handle this? And it was, it was all it all came from me, you know, there was no pressure from them whatsoever. You know, one of the producers called me, she was just at this conference, about the release of the bakers names. And she was she that she called me, she was like, Oh, I'm just about to go to the press conference. He, they're asking if they can refer to you as the disabled Baker. Okay, now, what do you what do you want me to say? And I said, Well, no, I don't want to be called the disabled Baker. Right? You know, I don't want that tag. Because, you know, not that I'm ashamed of it. But I don't want to have that branded on me straight away, you know. And so, you know, even up to that point where they're, you know, interacting with the press, it was very much on my terms. And, you know, they asked me, Do you, you know, do you want any special equipment? Do you want this that the other one I said, I, you know, it's it's all good, I don't need anything. And, you know, there was actually one point where Sunday and no, we're gonna do a joke about something. It was something related to fingers or hands, it wasn't in any way. Like, I didn't find it insulting to me at all. And, you know, I was like, it was fine. It's just a joke. It doesn't offend me. And, you know, but I think because it was, it was related to hands. So they were a bit nervous about it, they actually came, they came and spoke to me and said, you know, how would you feel if we did this joke? And I said, Oh, it's fine. You know, don't worry about me, which I think, you know, that shows how sensitive they were and how caring and I think, you know, for me, I mean, there's a lot of, you know, UK reality TV TV programs who do very much, you know, make the most out of their people and do you know, exploit to a certain extent, the contestants, but I certainly didn't feel that at all on bakeoff it's very wholesome Bake Off. And it's not just the program itself, you know, the environment of filming is very wholesome. It they're like a family. You know, they're really lovely bunch of people from the you know, executive producer and the director to the cameraman to the sign guys, you know, they've all been working on it for years and years. And, and they want you to do well, and they want to support you. And it's, it's really lovely, you know, it's just felt very, you bought it, then the whole, the whole show and the whole experience.
Naveh Eldar 18:06
So I also know from listening to and reading some articles about you that really, it's been since the Bake Off that you have spoken more about your limb difference, or even saying the word disability. So can we can we pause here for people who don't know you? Because not everybody in the world is has good tastes like I do. And it's the British makeup. So can you tell us a little bit about your your limb difference?
Briony May Williams 18:31
Yeah, of course. So I was born with no fingers. On my left hand, it's called Sim brachydactyly, which I actually have only found out since I was on bakeoff.
Okay, what it was called?
I yeah, so it was it's a you know, something I was born with, I've always lived with, I've always, my mum has never called it a disability. So because when I was born in 1984, it was very much a negative word. You know, it had very negative connotations. And she didn't want me to feel like I was, you know, at a disadvantage to anyone else. So she would, you know, just say to, you know, if you can't do something, figure out a way to do it. That was always her, her mindset. So I always took that on. And since being on bakeoff, I've very much embraced my disability I've always been, when I was anything, I suppose the last maybe six or seven years, I felt comfortable with my hand. And then since being on bakeoff, I'd say I'm very proud of my hand. Nice, which is something that you know, certainly didn't happen, you know, in my teens and 20s whatever. And yeah, I'm I'm really proud now that I can use my platform to hopefully reach out and help other people. You know, I get some just lovely messages from, from parents of kids with hands like mine. You know, I've made some amazing connections. There's a little girl who's four Five, I think she's four, who I've chatted to and facetimed and stuff, because she's struggling a bit with her hand, and her mum was a bit worried about her confidence. So we, you know, had a lovely little chat and, and that's what can make all the difference, you know, being able to see someone a grown up, you know, who, who has been through it. And, you know, and especially doing something like bakeoff, which is, you know, very physically challenging environment. Very fiddly. You know, I think it's really important for there to be that positive representation out there. And that's something that bakeoff has done for me, which is amazing. It's, I just feel it's been a real journey for me to get to this point, in the last couple of years, but now I feel so strongly that I want to help I want to be an advocate, I want to be a voice for people who don't have one or you know, don't feel like they can speak up. So it's really, I feel very honored to be in this position.
Naveh Eldar 21:00
And you're a great advocate. I mean, you just, you just have a very, even on the show, like you were always one of the most popular contestants, because you're just you just have such a nice not to sound too out there. But you just have such a warm spirit about you, you know, like you just present like you care and things are meaningful, and you're just honest and sincere. And so and you just said that it hasn't been that long since you've been comfortable with your limb difference. So for for parents out there, or for young people out there who do have a limb difference. Sometimes it is helpful to hear that I'm not the there's nothing wrong with me for feeling insecure, or for feeling Oh, yeah. So can you can you talk a little bit about what it was like for you in those younger years? Like, including whatever elementary school?
Briony May Williams 21:52
Yeah, I mean, I was very unaware of my hand, up until probably I was maybe eight or nine, I didn't really feel like I was any different. I think, because I went to preschool with the same people I went to school with. Nobody thought of it as being weird or different. They just knew that's just that was just me, you know. So having those same friends go with me through to primary school was was great, because I didn't really you know, it was when I started, you know, probably around 910, you know, when people start getting boyfriends and primary school, you know, like, right, and again, a boyfriend. And that's when I started to become more self conscious about it. And it was really kind of from there. Up until my late 20s. I'd say teenagers were pretty difficult. And, you know, I wasn't I wasn't particularly, I was always confident in that I could be really friendly to people and chat to people. But in terms of, you know, talking to boys or whatever, I never had that kind of confidence, because I didn't think that anyone would find me attractive because of my hand. So you know, and I went through life like that. That's how I felt. And I was never bullied for my hand. You know, I had a really, you know, I was so lucky. I had a few comments here or there. And the worst comment I ever had came from when I lived in Spain. And so I was I was 21 at the time. And I was in a queue in the bakery. And this little boy was in front of me with his mom, he must have been about four and he turned and she didn't realize I don't think I speak Spanish at the time. And he turned to his mom, and he said, What's wrong with that lady's hand? And she looked down at him. He said, that's what happened to you if you're bad. Upside up.
Unknown Speaker 23:42
Briony May Williams 23:43
I think I just didn't, I just turned around and walked away because I didn't know what to say, right? You know, this poor kid, this kid's gonna grow up with such, you know, mixed up feelings about disability and, you know, prejudice towards people with disabilities, you know, because you're saying these awful things to him, you know, don't worry about me, like, I'll get over it. But, but overall, I've had a very positive experience. You know, I'd be in a club or whatever, and chatting to a guy. And as soon as he'd noticed my hand he'd shoot off. Because, you know, it's just one of those things. And then I met my husband when I was 25. And we met on a on online on a dating website. Okay. This is 11 years ago. So this is like, we were early in the game when it came to dating websites. And yeah, so I actually told him about my hand before we met, okay, and I was so nervous, I thought, Oh, he's gonna run away. He's not gonna want to beat me. And he was like, Oh, thank you so much. I'm so glad you told me, you know, still really looking forward to meeting you. And it's never ever been an issue to him. Right. So and I think that for me, has helped him loving me and finding me attractive has helped me gaining confidence, right. So you know, and I No, you shouldn't have to rely on someone else. But it's, you know, that that's how I've managed to find that self acceptance. And I think, you know, God forbid, you know, it's not gonna happen. But if we ever broke up, you know, I know that that confidence would still be there. Right? Do you know what I mean? It's not It's not that it's reliant on him. It's just he's helped me get to that point.
Naveh Eldar 25:26
Briony May Williams 25:27
So yeah, and, and that's Yeah, so that's, that's just led me to be a lot more comfortable with myself. And then I think I've just gained more confidence over the last few years. I've been on on bakeoff.
Naveh Eldar 25:41
Yay. So I'm a very blunt person. So I'm gonna get preachy for a second. And so it kind of Bob, it bothers me when, you know, this whole concept of we shouldn't care about what we should or shouldn't do is one thing, but we're humans and we do. Like there is not a single person on this planet is not impacted by what other people respond to us, whether it's our parents or people that we want to date or whatever. So, yes, that's very, very natural as all I'm saying that we would be impacted by that and how we feel about ourselves. I was curious about I want to segue right into what you were talking about is perfect, because when I follow you, you didn't talk about it at all on the Great British Bake Off. You don't talk about it a ton on social media as well. Guess you bake unless you do your your Briony brick bakes, right. But then this movie comes out. Which is right? You because You talked about this little boy and how you are going to confuse this little boy, which is what was the outcry about this movie. This was a movie, not only was it just poor representation, right? But it was a movie that was that was targeting children. Right? And so you, along with many other people were very, I guess, offended is a nice way to say about this movie. So I want to know if you could tell a little bit about that movie, and why you responded the way you did.
Briony May Williams 27:07
Yeah. And I think the important thing to say before I say any of this because I've been accused of being you know, as people get like that on sometimes on Twitter, like, oh, you're pathetic, you're getting offended over nothing. You're just being a snowflake, or whatever. And just to clarify, I have a really good sense of humor about my hand. I laugh about it all the time. You know, I make jokes. I make people feel very comfortable about my hands. You know, my, my friends and my family make jokes about my hand. Right? You know, it's not, it's not something I'm particularly sensitive or talk about it kind of thing. Like, you know, I'm very open minded. Just need to say that before I say the next bit because people think I was gonna say, so the wipies movie was remade, there was one that came out in 1990. And, and they've remade it with Anne Hathaway. Warner Brothers have remade it came out last year. And that image of the head, which Hathaway when she reveals her evil, witchiness, right is basically she's got no hair. So she's completely bald. And her hands, she's only got three fingers. Now, when I looked at the picture, it actually took my breath away, because it's, you know, it's not necessarily very close to what my hand looks like. But I know people who have hands almost identical to that. And it looks like someone who's got a limb difference. And it's not just even a little bit like it is the spitting image of it. So what's happened is Anne Hathaway revealing herself to be evil, you know, an awful person, a villain, and she has this deformity. So I just couldn't believe that they done it, because there's a few reasons because in the original book, and the original film, Roald Dahl doesn't describe the hands in any way, like, right, you know, he says, they have cat like claws. And in the original film, that's what that's what they do. And pretty scary as as is. And also, it's so ignorant and stupid that I think how many people saw that in the production process?
Unknown Speaker 29:26
Briony May Williams 29:27
that's great idea. That is, yeah. I mean, God, just it really baffled me. Because when when it came out, and people were like, what the hell is this? The Warner Brothers came back saying, you know, well, we talked to a lot of different designers and artists to come up with this to come up with these these hand. What that's not that's not justifying it that's not making it any better. And you know, I'm Hathaway apologize Warner Brothers gave a very weak in my opinion, it but I'm happy we did apologize and you know, say I'm sorry about that. The film's delight, they're exactly you know, it's it's still like, there, it's still it's still aimed at children. And, and whether, you know, whether you agree with it or not, when children see those images of those hands, they will be scared. And they will associate that with that disability, whether you want them to or not, you know, it's like, think about when you, you know, first of all Jaws, did you want to go in the water? No, even though you know, that you live in like the UK, there's not gonna be an animal in there. You know, there's not gonna be a sharp like that in that you still associate it because you've seen that and it's ingrained in your head, you know, pop culture. So those kids are going to grow up watching this film. And think, Oh, you know, she's got three fingers. She's evil. It That's disgusting. Oh, look how ugly she is. It's just it's reaffirming negative stereotypes that don't need or don't need reaffirming because they're already out there. And people think that anyway. So, you know, I just find it abhorrent to be honest with you. And I was in a shop the other day and the DVD was on sale. And I felt like
Unknown Speaker 31:12
across the shop,
Briony May Williams 31:13
I thought, No, I don't want to do that. I don't get arrested. But yeah, it's just something that it really fired something up in me because because I have such a strong connection, and a lot of connections with these young kids and their parents. I'm a 36 year old woman, I'll get over it, you know, I mean, it's not going to affect my self esteem. And if you're a 4567 year old, with the limb difference, and you watch that film, or your friends watch that film, there's going to be issues. So yeah, it's just I think it was a huge error in judgment to portray that, and in my opinion, they should have pulled the film and redesigned the hands. You know, Sonic the Hedgehog came back. And they were like people like it, people were so up in arms that they didn't like the look of Sonic the Hedgehog that they pulled the film, redesigned Sonic the Hedgehog, and then put it back out again. That's a blue hedgehog. You know, this is talking about disability and people's, you know, people's physic physical beings, you know, and actually, you know, something that's a real issue and Warner Brothers when know.
Naveh Eldar 32:17
Exactly. And, you know, YOUR story leading up to here is just an example of what you're talking about, like you talked about that, you know, there were times where you will be at a club and a guy will see your hand and like, okay, I don't think so. A mother telling her son, this will happen to you if you're bad. And so you hear those things, you see those things, and then there's this movie that saying, you know, this limb difference is a sign of evil and you know, somebody who wants to do but diabolical things, like you said, it's just absolutely reaffirms it by I know, Anne Hathaway that she did give a very, I thought sincere apology.
Briony May Williams 32:56
Yeah, no, she did. She did. Yeah. I just think,
Naveh Eldar 32:59
you know, she did not.
Briony May Williams 33:03
It was already apology as like that. But it's not acceptable.
Naveh Eldar 33:08
But if the listeners aren't who aren't familiar with this, if you go on Instagram, or Twitter, and you look up the hashtag, not a, which was, it really was big for a long time after the movie comes out. And it shows people with limb differences holding up their limb, and oftentimes riding on their limb, not a witch, you know, to say, we are not, you know, some evil. Yeah, so. So, so thank you for explaining that to the listeners in Pasha ad. And so, um, you you spoke earlier that when you were younger, that saying that you had a disability was a very negative thing, which, which made me wonder how is the disability community in England treated in 2021? Or viewed?
Briony May Williams 33:55
Wow, I mean, I mean, there's a statistic that came out this week, which that 60% of COVID deaths in the UK are disabled people, which I mean, is insane when you think about it. 60%. Right, which just completely baffles my mind. I mean, that that gives you some idea. You know, things are better, maybe than they were 30 years ago, but there's such a long way to go, you know, in terms of representation on and off screen, in terms of, obviously health care. And, you know, even though 60% of the COVID deaths are of disabled people, they still a lot of them still on on the, you know, vaccine priority list, which again, I mean, it just shows you it's that kind of like, Oh, it's fine, you know, don't don't worry about it. You know, you've got people going on national TV saying that, you know, people who are disabled, their lives don't matter as much. You know, It's still still, that that belief is ingrained in a lot of people's heads. that disability is bad. You know, disabled people's lives are not as worthy as people who are disabled. And I think, you know, we've just still got such a long way to go. I think it's great, you know, things like, you know, shows like bakeoff are making sure that there are disabled people on there. You know, Mark, from this year just gone had a missing limb, and a missing leg, and, you know, food unwrapped, which is the program I present on Channel Four, no, that's absolutely nothing to do with disability, it's all about food. And they want that, you know, I'm now on their presenting team. So out of seven presenters, you know, that's great, they've got someone on there with a visible disability. But you know, I mean, my agents, great, he's got all the facts and figures in his head, and he can just whip them at any point. It's not good, the situation is not good. And I follow people like Ruth medley, and Liz Carr, and Rosie Jones, on Twitter and Instagram. And, you know, if you want to get an idea of what the situation is, at the moment, follow them, you know, read their posts, because they're so eloquent and vocal, just incredible women who, you know, I think, you know, I have a lot of respect for I really look up to them. And, you know, their advocacy, and I hope that I can, you know, probably sit as well as they do.
Naveh Eldar 36:31
Thank you. And you have, you've become like such a great advocate. And I just really appreciate it, which is why I wanted you on the show. So one thing I want to make sure we get to is something that was evident while you were on the show, and then even after the show, is you have such a strong connection with your family like you are such a family person. So So tell us where where did that Genesis come from? Like, did you have like you talked about your grandmother? Did you have a grandmother that made sure the family was together? There's a great podcast, I want you to actually what was the name of the podcast, you were just on with your brothers?
Briony May Williams 37:08
Naveh Eldar 37:10
relatively, you'd need to listen, my listeners need to go listen to that podcast. It was fantastic. It was Briony with her two brothers. They were hilarious. But so where did this this sense of family come from in you?
Briony May Williams 37:23
Um, it's I mean, I always thought it came from my mum, because I've always been very, very close to my mum, she's my best friend. She's amazing. And my parents split when I was eight, I still see my dad, you know, we're all you know, we've got a good relationship. But so it was just the four of us in the house from when I was eight, and Max was five, Ben was 10. So I think that we just always had this, you know, close knit, this close knit connection. And I always thought it came from Mum, but my Nan's very sadly passed away in November. And what we realized is it came from her, you know, having once we started work, because we knew she basically should we found out she had pancreatic cancer, and then she passed away about five weeks later. So we we had lots of amazing conversations with her about her life, and you know, her family, and we realized, you know, she had a very lovely, loving family. She then gave my mum, so much love and kindness. She's one of the most accepting women, you know, for a 95 year old. Right? You know, she's, she's amazing. And, you know, that came down, I think I filtered down through to my mom. And there's no filter down through to me and my brothers. And we don't really like each other. Yeah, no, like, we actually really get on really well. And just have a who and what, you know, we're always there for each other. And I speak to my mom every day a couple of times a day. Me and my brothers and my mom all lives sort of within 10 minutes of each other. And me and my brothers have kids, we have a kiddie pool. We're all born within 18 months of each other.
Unknown Speaker 38:57
Briony May Williams 38:59
It's, you know, I think and now we're passing that, that place in a stain on to our kids because they're best friends and they haven't you know, they love spending time together. So yeah, it definitely comes from my nan, I think and then has filtered down to us. And it just means a lot. You know, Mike, my husband's could really close to his family as well. They live a little bit further out of Bristol, but that's something that when we got together we both realized was really strong in both of our lives that we've really valued our family and our friendships. So yeah, I just I love my family there as
Naveh Eldar 39:29
it was. I knew you were like that again, just from your content, but it was very sweet listening to your brothers. They are jokesters. They joke constantly, but we listened to what they were saying. They were the sweetest guys like one of your brothers said you know as soon as he graduated from school, he wanted to get a job to help your mom financially start Yeah, rants and they talked about how they always check in on you to make sure you're coming okay and all that stuff. So it's very, very sweet family and now you are also making these Wonderful videos with your daughter. So tell us about that. First of all, how old is she? cuz she's a tiny little thing. She's. She's so tell us this Yes.
Briony May Williams 40:12
My daughter Nora is five, five and a half she'd say no, because that half very important. And yeah, so over lockdown. I mean, I always bake with her anyway, we love baking together, it's good fun. And whenever I put sort of videos of me and her on my social media, people really connect with it, which is really lovely. And I thought we got told at the beginning of January, that we would be in lockdown, and the schools will be shut until at least mid February. So after having a small breakdown about home school, right, but for at least six weeks, right, what can I do that be really positive to put out there that I can, you know, I can have fun with Nora can enjoy, you know, let's do some live bake alongs with families. And you know, if people want to join in they can or they can watch it later date. And I've invited both in friendly celebrities on to to join me on these base Long's So Andy de who's a huge, I mean, he's huge in the UK. He's like the biggest kids if TV died. And yeah, he came to the first one. And then we've got, you know, I've had various people and it's just been so fun and lovely. And Nora loves it. She has a laugh. I mean, you know, after about 10 minutes, she's on board and I only go
Unknown Speaker 41:33
Naveh Eldar 41:38
It's supposed to be this kid's baking moment. She's like, okay, I'll be back later. That's awesome.
Briony May Williams 41:44
I'll just leave you to it. And, yeah, because I've got to talk to the person who I'm doing the bake along with as well, it means I can't give her the attention that she needs. So she's like, Alright, bye. But yeah, it's been great. It's been really fun. And we've actually recorded a it's teaching course. So which is going to be launching in the next few weeks. And that's going to be online, not too expensive at all, it's going to be quite, you know, very reasonably priced. Right. And it's a full full course on, you know, starting from the very beginning to developing some slightly more tricky baits, with your kids sort of age five to 12, maybe 13. And just trying to get the most enjoyment out of it as well, you know, lots of tips and tricks. And you know, what, what's best to do with kids when they need a break? You know, things like that. So that's coming out in the next few weeks. So that's, I'm looking forward to that as well.
Naveh Eldar 42:40
So the current ones with your daughter, I know they're on Instagram, for info like I there's like 15 minute videos on Instagram isn't also on YouTube. I know you have a YouTube channel as well.
Briony May Williams 42:50
I do know they're all there on my igtv. Okay, so yeah, so Brian, he may be on Instagram, they're all on there. And all the recipes are on there. So if you want to go on and you think I don't want to watch a full 15 minutes before any banging on about whatever the recipes are in the comments in the comments underneath as well. So you can just grab the recipe if you want.
Naveh Eldar 43:12
Gotcha. So I could talk to you all day. But I promise I will keep you to an hour because I know you're busy. So we have to get to the personal questions. I always end my episodes with personal questions, fun questions. And so I was very excited because you're probably I'm embarrassed. I'm like laughing to myself because I'm about to to somewhat embarrass myself because I want to talk about bridgerton
Briony May Williams 43:38
Naveh Eldar 43:40
I know that you love it. And I have colleagues and friends who listen to this podcast who are like not very, really, really we're going to break it down right now. Is that what you're watching? Yes. I watched that. I've watched it more than once. So okay, so a few questions. One, how is it received in England because it's an American producer, right. And it is very much a part of your history although I'm sure it's not so accurate. So in general, how is it received by Britain's
Briony May Williams 44:18
really well? I mean, people love over here. Yeah, they really love it. Yeah. I mean, you know, I sort of message my friends like if you watch Bridget and they just send little gifts back of the Jeep like what do you think?
Naveh Eldar 44:32
And so who who are a few of your favorite characters from the show?
Briony May Williams 44:36
Wow, I'm actually friends with Nicola Claflin who plays Penelope Farrington could stand. Yeah. She cuz she was in the dairy girls. Yes. I'm sure you know, which is an amazing program and you should definitely watch that. If you haven't watched it. It's so funny. It is. Right. I've met I've met her quite a few times at various kind of for events. I met her at pride London pride couple of years ago. She's great and Um, actually one of the last events I went to pre lockdown was her birthday party. So yeah, so obviously, she's my fav. And she is one of the loveliest people in the world. Like she's a really genuinely lovely, lovely girl. I say, girl, she's couple years younger than me. And obviously the Jeep for very different reasons. Okay, and, yeah, I just think it's great. I think it's, you know, the really, you know, bright the colors or something about it's very cinematic, right. And it's just yeah, it had me completely drawn in. And that the spark the chemistry between Daphne and the Duke, I mean, off. Yes. So, you know, if they'd had if they hadn't had that chemistry, it wouldn't have worked at all right? Because it was so like, war on fire. I think that's, you know,
Naveh Eldar 45:54
and they play it down so much, whenever they're asked about I don't know, if you've seen any, like interviews or anything with whenever they're asked about it, cuz everybody notices it. They're always like, Oh, we have this special intimacy coach. And really, it was just all the directing. We're like, we watch movies and TVs or a TV shows all the time. And I'm not saying they have a relationship, but they definitely had a great chemistry with each other.
Briony May Williams 46:18
They did. And I think I think that's one of the one of the things that makes it so great is you don't always have that, you know, that right? That visible spark on screen. It reminded me of the chemistry between I don't know if you've ever seen fleabag back, no. Okay. Watch that. That's brilliant. Okay. Season Two fleabag is between Phoebe Waller bridge and Andrew Scott who plays the priest, that chemistry is like, oh, as well. And I think it reminds me of that. And I think it's so it's just not often it comes along that it's that powerful when there's Yeah, I love it. I'm by account. I've watched it to some episodes, maybe three times. Right?
Unknown Speaker 47:02
Not even ashamed.
Naveh Eldar 47:04
And it has I think it has such great acting and in character development. Eloise is
Unknown Speaker 47:11
Naveh Eldar 47:12
yeah. Natalie, who? In the mom, you know, Lady bridgerton. I just love maybe because I am a parent, but I just find like her moments of being uncomfortable with something is just she's just brilliant too. I think the whole I'm very much looking forward to season two. I will not read the books, but I will certainly
Briony May Williams 47:34
I did buy I bought the first book because I thought I was bereft when it when it's finished. And how long they say. I really read the first chapter.
Unknown Speaker 47:42
Okay, I was like, oh, oh, no, he's
Briony May Williams 47:44
good. Turns out the books good, but um, I got distracted. So yeah, no, I I've already bought the book might might start reading it again tonight.
Naveh Eldar 47:54
Well, thank you for letting me have my Bridget and moment.
Briony May Williams 47:58
It's my pleasure.
Naveh Eldar 47:59
And thank you so much for coming on the show and very excited to continue to follow you and see what you come out with a lot you and your daughter. I wish that we find links to different content on Briony in the episode description. In the next episode, I interviewed Jermaine Greaves about immigrating to the United States at a young age, cerebral palsy, and starting different movements including black disabled Lives Matter. Make sure to follow this podcast and share with others. See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai