With thanks to Hattie Stewart 

In a world where technology is intelligent, local events have global audiences and media is ‘real time’, demands placed on performers are higher than ever.

As asks for athletes and entertainers continue to expand with the times, for women much of the conversation – on court and off – has stayed the same.

Stakes are high for women aspiring to achieve a higher standard of greatness in 2018. It’s understandable that perfectionism is a by-product of unparalleled skill, mogul-level ascension and the acceptance of being publicly accessible.

These are all qualities inherent in the award-winning artist SZA, whose time-stopping soulfulness is matched by technical precision.

But for the artist whose debut album was called “CTRL”, true freedom came in the form of letting go.

Raised in New Jersey, SZA grew up pushing herself competitively in sport and art. Dropping everything to follow her own path, she did her time on the creative grind, couch-surfing while saving for studio minutes and finding her steez as a performer.

Importantly, SZA learned the value of reinvention through being unafraid to make mistakes.

“Failure is a gift,” she explains. “It teaches you how to reformat yourself for the better. The key is to refine your response.”

Despite the effortless poise and persona, every moment for the performer is an opportunity to refine.

“Every facet of my life, I’m facing fear,” she explains. “Each moment feels like the first time, especially now. Red carpets, singing in front of tons of people you don’t know and believing in yourself.”

As easy as SZA makes it look, the weight of passion for her craft means she is often her own harshest critic. But it’s giving herself permission to fail that is the transformation.

“Walking through the fear brings freedom and weightlessness… no matter the outcome.”

SZA’s parting words for us in the lead up to International Women’s Day?

“I want people to feel. And feel okay about feeling. Feel okay about trying. Feel okay about being. I wanna make it less criminal to be human.”