What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say [that] being an engineer working in space, which I was obsessed with as a kid, is not just for boys. Just because you're a weird little artist doesn't mean that you don't have a place in the stars.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
The morning before my interview with Elon. I don't know how I ended up with the courage to walk into that office and sit down in that chair and believe in myself. But I was going to shoot my shot, and what's the worst that can happen? I get kicked out and asked to leave his office. But oh, god, the sheer terror! We all, especially as creatives, have imposter syndrome, [but it’s about] giving yourself permission to do the scary thing. That was one of the greatest decisions I made in my life, to get in that car, and to drive to that office where nobody does the thing you do, nobody really looks like you. You walk into that office with a smile on your face, with your laptop under your arm, because you're damn well about to convince one of the most powerful men in the world that you belong at that table and that he should create a role for you.
If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing and why?
I might go back to MIT and study astronomics and help build the next commercial space station tomorrow, like, just get down and dirty. The only thing that's gonna get me to leave this empire of space creatives would be to build a habitat I would live on as an astronaut.
What should the industry do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
My hope is that we [women] could be put more in the spotlight not for our own, selfish means, but to be an example for [other] artists, for women, for women of color, for transgender individuals. I think that it’s important for people to give themselves permission to think different, to try and disrupt an industry they’re passionate about. The reason I was at SpaceX is not because I was telling Elon Musk how many great things he was doing. I was inspired by all of the things I saw that were wrong, that I was uniquely qualified to help him with. The only way we're going to crack that code is if more people are disruptors and troublemakers and say, “Hey, this sucks. And I am uniquely qualified to fix it if you let me.”