Up Close With Sheena Bhattessa
Posted on 21 November 2018
Sheena Bhattessa is an actress and founder of Citizen Femme, a travel and style guide for globetrotting women. Sheena resides in London, where she grew up and completed her law degree before pursuing an acting career.
Tell us a little about yourself and The Citizen Femme.
I’m basically a storyteller! I love telling stories from my travels as a writer and as an actress. I grew up in London but I have itchy feet, so my eyes and my mind are always hungry for more information, cultures, understanding and stories.
I studied law but followed my love for stage and screen in New York after university for a couple of years and returned to London where I work in some incredible productions that have taught me so much about myself, audiences, history, the future, different cultures. I love diving into a new character and story, so I’m very lucky to do what I love.
I started Citizen Femme from a continued love of travel storytelling. We write for independent-minded female travellers, inspirational but attainable travel.
You founded Citizen Femme while working as an actress, how do you juggle between the two careers?
You find a way. I find myself to be more efficient with my hours spent writing and editing. I also have a great team and who actually do most of the travelling! I am a great believer in a to-do list and I will make sure each day is balanced between the two careers so I can achieve and be satisfied on both sides. On weekends, I read, read, read, read and see lots of films and theatre!
What's your daily routine and your keys to success and productivity?
No two days are alike, but I always start early and kick off with hot water honey lemon, and a coffee. I’m at my most productive between 7am and 12pm so any writing, emails, “getting my head down and working” is then. After that, it’s out and about for meetings or auditions, or filming, whatever that day requires (unless I’m on set for 5am!) I will exercise 3 or 4 times a week, it helps clear my mind. Or I take really long walks (ideally to appointments) listening to music or podcasts.
I’m still learning about the keys to success so any tips are welcome! But I wear every single hat and continue to do so, in my business. Listen and learn from everyone. Never say no, you never know who you will meet or what opportunity you will come across. At the same time, if someone says no to you, take it as a challenge and find a way around it. And the other thing, don’t just talk about it, do it. Between publishing and acting, these are 2 careers where you have to fight for what you want, so the only thing consistent in my daily routine is hard work and persistence.
Knowing that you have over 30 female contributors from all around the globe, how do you pick your writers?
I know them all well, where they are, what they like to write about – whether its food, wellbeing, style + beauty, exploration, design – so it's easy to pick who would enjoy and give justice to different experiences. They all have different backgrounds and professions from interior designers to full-time mums to sommeliers so they write with confidence with their own familiarities.
If you can go back in time, would you change any decisions that you’ve made for Citizen Femme? What’s your next goal?
I wouldn’t change any decision, it’s developing in a way that I enjoy, and its changing daily because of new discoveries and feedback. There is a Kierkegaard's quote: Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. I love this.
But I have learnt to question people more, I fall for everything, I should know better.
I want Citizen Femme to become a lifestyle brand so it’s not only a destination for travel inspiration. I’m launching a beauty range and excited about some upcoming collaborations.
Being an actress and the founder of Citizen Femme, have you ever experienced gender inequality and what makes you strive for running an all-female business?
No gender inequality, but sometimes there is less opportunity for females, so you just have to create your own opportunities. I like the female perspective, its intelligent, insightful, thorough, creative. We are talking to female travellers, so who better to write about this than women!
Tell us how you caught the travel bug and what's one of your most memorable trips?
I grew up in a family of hoteliers so I guess its always been in my blood. And as a kid, travel was so important. We would drive from London to and around Europe, constantly travelling everywhere, whenever we could. I would sit in the car on journeys and learn about the history of different countries and play capital city games!
During my acting work, I travel and discover local cultures and crews which are fascinating. You are not getting a surface view of the city, you’re working with the locals. It’s far more interesting.
Most memorable trip? A sunrise Safari in the Masai Mara.
What are 5 items you must pack with you on a trip?
Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm
A cashmere shawl
My favourite Finlay sunglasses
A little face kit with a face wash, cream and under eye mask (my favourites are: Sunday Riley Good Genes, This Works In Transit No Traces and Dr Barbara Sturm eye cream)
Sorry there are 6….