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Image / Fashion

Fearless: Samantha Barry, a documentary about the Irish editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine airs tonight


by Holly O'Neill
08th Jun 2020

Fearless: Samantha Barry airs tonight (Monday 8th June) on RTÉ One at 9.35 pm, and follows Glamour magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Samantha Barry in the days ahead of the magazine’s Women Of The Year Awards.


“When Samantha was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Glamour,” says producer Debbie O’Donnell, MD of Seahorse Media, “Anna Wintour called her ‘fearless like so many leaders of the moment.’ Prior to this, in 2017, she did a TED Talk about ‘Being Fearless – Embracing Change’ and throughout our filming process everyone we spoke to, from friends to work colleagues said the same thing about Samantha, that she was ‘fearless’. She is a leader that doesn’t let fear get in the way, she is not afraid to take risks.”

Samantha Barry and Debbie O’Donnell

Debbie and her colleagues spent two weeks filming in New York before Christmas, in the lead up to Glamour‘s annual Women of the Year Awards. “It is the staple event in Condé Nast’s calendar so my co-producer Steve McCormack and I hit the ground running when we arrived in New York,” says Debbie. “Two weeks is a small filming window for a documentary so we had to make sure that there were no surprises in the schedule. Surprises would mean reshooting and there was no time to reshoot, especially as we were creating ‘a fly-on-the-wall’ style programme. When filming such a busy event, our filming schedule is our bible with little room for change. In saying that, there were a few surprises along the way.”

Samantha Barry and Debbie, both from Cork, first met on Xposé. “I’ve followed Samantha’s story since she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Glamour by Anna Wintour in 2018 and was lucky enough to meet her a few times when we were interviewing her for Xposé,” says Debbie. “I really like her and both on and off-air, she is a total professional. She is a fantastic role model and exactly what we need right now, strong female voices. Her story needed to be told.”

 

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“Samantha has a unique ability to engage and empower an entire room, whether it’s a production meeting or the awards themselves, where she spoke to a crowd of thousands, and she can make everyone feel like they are her friend. She has a warmth that’s disarming and most importantly, she considers herself ‘quintessentially Cork!’ She was very open and generous with us, sharing her story and her career path to her current role at Glamour. She has a steely determination and has never been afraid of hard work, or of facing a risk when she thought the reward might be worth it.”

One of the stand-out moments from the documentary, according to Debbie, was the behind-the-scenes access at Condé Nast. “We got a snoop inside the Condé Nast fashion closet, made famous by the film The Devil Wears Prada, and that certainly didn’t disappoint! We also filmed key Women of the Year Awards production meetings and got a tour of the Condé Nast Entertainment Unit and saw how it all works. It’s fascinating.”

“Another standout moment would have to be meeting and interviewing Anna Wintour. I had been told that she was very witty and generous with her time and in fairness, she was both with us. Her office is exactly how I thought it would be with a huge bunch of fresh flowers on her desk. Anna Wintour was fabulous. She was exactly as I thought she would be in person. She was thoughtful with her answers and not only spoke about Samantha but about Glamour and where it sat in the portfolio of Condé Nast titles. Over the two weeks that we were based at the Condé Nast offices in New York, I saw Anna Wintour on several occasions in the office and she was effortlessly polite and engaging.”

Watch the Glamour team prepare for the Women of the Year Awards tonight (Monday 8th June) on RTÉ One at 9.35 pm. “From the red carpet to each of the honouree speeches, it was run with military precision,” says Debbie. “It was great to experience an event of that scale and to see an Irish woman at the helm.”

Fearless: Samantha Barry airs tonight (Monday 8th June) on RTÉ One at 9.35 pm.

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