Getting to know musician, writer and feminist Lizzie Marvelly

Lizzie Marvelly

While Lizzie Marvelly traverses many diverse paths, her journey started with her love for music. Discovered by Frankie Stevens and her famous uncle, Sir Howard Morrison, in her early teens, Lizzie was on the road at age 16. Described as a ‘true songbird’ and a ‘national treasure’, her musical life has been something of a wild ride: two major international signings, two top-ten albums, a top-fifteen pop debut, two European tours, concerts in Asia and Australia amongst others, a smash-hit charity single, two semi-finalist songs in the International Songwriting Competition, a song co-written with P-MONEY in the Kiwi film Born To Dance and countless national anthems and tours.

In May 2015, Lizzie launched, an online media project aiming to create smart, ‘no-filter’ media for young women. Lizzie was motivated to create because she wanted to hear more young female voices represented in the media. Bringing together bright young student and citizen writers and inspirational contributors, Villainesse is on a mission to empower young women.

In September 2015, Lizzie launched Villainesse’s first major campaign, the globally-successful #MyBodyMyTerms. Aiming to spark conversation about victim-blaming, revenge porn, consent and sexual violence, the #MyBodyMyTerms videos have been viewed over 500,000 times, and received press attention from the Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Buzzfeed US, Cosmopolitan US, Bustle, and the New Zealand Herald, among many others. Off the back of its success, Lizzie was asked to present at Auckland’s TedX .

Later that year, Lizzie was invited to contribute to the Huffington Post and in 2016, she began writing a weekly column for the Weekend Herald. She was invited to speak at TEDx Auckland 2016, presenting a talk about the need for open discussion and comprehensive education around sex and sexuality.

Also in 2016, Lizzie was named as a finalist in the New Zealand Women of Influence awards, and was awarded a Local Hero medal. In April of 2017, she won two Canon Media Awards; Best Blog for Villainesse and Best Opinion Writer in the general category for her work as an opinion columnist for the Weekend Herald. Lizzie also appeared on TVNZ’s, The Naked Choir as a judge.

In 2018 Lizzie co-wrote and co-produced The REAL Sex Talk, a 12-part sexuality education webseries in which a cast of New Zealand celebrities and experts delivered credible, accessible information to Kiwi teens. She also co-founded and co-produced Wāhine Kākano – The New Zealand Young Women’s Festival.

Her first book, The F Word: Growing Up Feminist in Aotearoa is out now.

Her hobbies include spending far too much time on Twitter, drinking wine with friends and continuing her quest to find Auckland’s best date scone.

Available for:

  • Guest Speaking
  • Emceeing
  • Panel Participation
  • Media Commentary
  • Blogging
  • Freelance Writing
  • Guest Appearances
  • Singing
  • Endorsements where appropriate

Here’s your chance to learn more about one of New Zealand’s leading columnists:

What has been the most memorable performance of your career so far and why?
It would have to be a draw between performing at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009 and singing the national anthem at the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Performing the anthem at the final of the Cricket World Cup in 2015 would be up there too.

The Royal Albert Hall performance gave me the opportunity to achieve a life goal – at the ripe old age of 20 – while the other two were enormously patriotic occasions. All three were great honours and remain a source of pride.

You wrote your first song aged six. Can you remember what it was about?
Ha! I can. But I’m not telling you. My best friend (who co-wrote the song) sang it at my 21st birthday, and that was quite enough humiliation to last me a lifetime.

You were discovered by Frankie Stevens and your famous uncle, Sir Howard Morrison and on the road at age 16, how have you not burnt out like other child stars?
The short answer is that I did, but I was lucky enough to be able to do so privately. In the time since, I’ve been open about my battles with depression, anxiety and a disordered eating. Shouldering the pressure of an international career as a teenager is immensely difficult, and the impact of that reverberated well into my 20s, but I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful support network. Eventually I gained the confidence to be true to myself, which both changed and saved my life.

Would you describe yourself as a ‘citizen journalist’ or ‘women’s rights advocate’, and where has this passion come from?
I would describe myself as a feminist and a writer. I don’t claim to call myself a journalist, although some of my work crosses over into journalism. I simply write. I have been writing since I was a young child – there are countless diaries, journals, short stories, essays and poems stored at my parents’ house that will never see the light of day if I have anything to do with it – and I’ve continued the habit into my adult life. I’ve always had a passion for words, and now I’m lucky enough to be able to use them to encourage debate around issues that are important to me.

Some of those issues include women’s rights and the equality of the genders. As a feminist, I believe that people of all genders should be treated equally. That is the core tenet of my worldview.

Why is having a platform like important in society today?
Because we need to have spaces where the lens is unapologetically female. The vast majority of the media has been (and often continues to be) owned and controlled by men. Villainesse celebrates and supports women’s voices, narratives, and points of view in ways that would be unimaginable in many other media.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I have a wonky elbow – the result of breaking my arm in three places when I was six. I don’t do things by halves.

What was the biggest career (or life) lesson you have learnt so far?
Two things really. 1) That no one cares as much about your career as you do, so you shouldn’t sit back and allow others to make all the decisions. And 2) That you should try to be easy to work with. That way, people will want to work with you again!

And the most important life lesson I ever stumbled upon was to never apologise for being your authentic self.

What are your aspirations for the next five years?
To continue to live life on my own terms. To challenge myself, go on adventures, build things that I’m proud of and, above all, to make a difference for others.

Image Gallery

New Zealand vs Wales

New Zealand National Anthem