What’s Your Fight? Interview with Olympian Priscilla Frederick

December 15, 2020

By Haley Martinsen

Women only make $0.81 for every dollar a man makes. For professional athletes, it’s even lower. Regardless of sport and ability level, women consistently make less than male athletes. Just to put it in perspective, for Golf (PGA & LPGA), men make $1,235,495 on average while women make $48,993. 

When the United States women’s national soccer team won the FIFA World Cup in 2019, members of the women’s team brought a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer.  On Nov. 8th, 2020, a judge “‘recognized USSF’s ongoing discrimination against women players — rejecting USSF’s tired arguments that women must work twice as hard and accept lesser working conditions to get paid same as men.’”

Female Olympic athletes are no exception. Priscilla Frederick is a 31-year old Professional Track and Field High Jumper who speaks openly about this discrimination. She represents the country of Antigua and Barbuda and her achievements include 2019 and 2015 Pan American Games Silver Medalist and 2019 and 2015 National Female Athlete of the Year. Eventually, Priscilla would like to pursue an acting career.

Not only is Priscilla a strong athlete, but she is a strong female role model for athletic girls and women in general. I enjoyed getting to know her background, motivation secrets and reasons why we need these necessary changes in the professional sports industry.

Haley: What is it like internationally representing Antigua and Barbuda?

Antigua and Barbuda map

Antigua and Barbuda Map Location

Priscilla: It’s truly one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences. To represent a country that I wasn’t born in was overwhelming at first because I didn’t want to seem like a fake or disrespect the people in any way. I wanted to genuinely represent a country that I was a part of, that’s in my DNA, but it took some time to learn the culture, the Islands and the people. Learning about that half of me has been absolutely eye opening and incredible. Most people didn’t know where Antigua and Barbuda is on a map so being able to be an example and a product of the island in a small way is truly humbling. I love earning medals for the people and seeing the flag next to my name. 

Haley: What is your proudest moment as an athlete?

Priscilla: There are quite a few. The 2 that instantly come to mind are the moment I received the text that I would be representing Antigua and Barbuda at the 2016 Olympics and then walking in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony! Those 2 moments were so special to me because they solidified everything I had worked so hard for. It was my mom’s Birthday on the Opening Ceremony Day so having the one person that has inspired you the most watch you on TV and be proud is rewarding, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to top that as a gift haha

Haley: You’re an incredibly strong role model for women everywhere.  Can you tell us about the influential women in your life? (role models, support system, mentors, friends, etc.)

Priscilla and her mother

Priscilla and her mother

Priscilla: Thank you so much, that’s such a powerful complement, so thank you. It has taken me awhile to realize how much Women have played a role in my life and my decisions. Like I said, my mom was the biggest support, role model and influence I ever had. I saw all of her moments, the good and the bad and I learned from them all. In certain ways, I have learned through her mistakes to make better choices. 

My primary goal was to be an entertainer so women like Selena, Beyonce, Diana Ross, JLO, Tyra Banks and Christina Aguilera were huge positive influences about courage, self love and confidence. Now that I am older and we all have access to knowing more information and history, Women in general are such powerful influences in my life because I see so much greatness everyday. I mean, you have Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, but then athletes like Michelle Carter, Natasha Hastings, Gwen Barry, Whitney Ashley, Jeannelle Scheper and then women who support other women like FYLI, Dynamically Branded, etc. Seeing so much support and love makes it hard to not be a positive influence for everyone around me. 

Haley: How did you overcome unfair body-shaming comments made when you were younger?

Priscilla: I never realized how strong I was when I was younger. Comments that were made about body shaming really rolled off my skin like water. It never contaminated me. When people made comments they never offered a reason as to why the way I looked wouldn’t work. Me having a fat face didn’t register as a negative to me. I saw the other models and I knew I didn’t look like them but I never said to myself, I need to change to book this job, or when my instructor said I had a fat face, I didn’t say to myself, welp time to get surgery to fix that. I was so innocent and I am glad for that because I just thought, okay well this is me. For some reason, I fought through the negative thoughts and just accepted who I was and realized who I am was going to have to be enough. 

Haley: What message can you give younger girls going through these same situations?

Priscilla: God made you phenomenal, you are so wonderfully made and you are a fierce warrior. Don’t let other people’s petty and negative words have any impact on how fabulous you are. You are a light, a sparkle of joy, you are so beautifully unique and that’s what’s going to set you apart and help you rise. Find your courageous voice through hard work and home work! Homework meaning everyday you have to wake up, look yourself in the mirror and say “I am amazing, I am truly blessed and grateful for everything I have and for everything I am, I am worthy of every incredible opportunity that comes my way, nothing is going to stop my warrior spirit. My talent is limitless, and nothing will stop me.” Everyday, that has to be said, every morning and night. Whether you are having a bad day, or a great day, through tears of joy and pain, you must say that to yourself. You are key to success and happiness. 

Haley: You aren’t shy to speak up about how underpaid women are as Olympic athletes, are there any notable steps that can be taken in the industry to make a change for the next generation of female athletes?

Priscilla: To be very honest, hell yeah. 

-There is money in the sport and there is money in the business. I’m going to put it very plainly, the people up top need to do better, they need to care.

-I am a BLACK, FEMALE FIELD event athlete, I literally am the lowest of the low on the totem pole, lol. Being a black female is already tough as it is, now add an event that doesn’t get much TV time or notoriety. I am fighting everyday to recreate myself, my brand, my social media platforms, my goals, etc. to put myself in a better position so that one day I can help those who are on the up and coming so they don’t have to go through what I’m going through. So I am trying to take the necessary steps to be the change I want to see.

-It’s going to take a full blown change in sport. Female sports just aren’t as supported and watching the women’s soccer team win and still have to fight for just pay is disgraceful. But like I said, it all starts from the top. We are proving ourselves to be valuable and competitive.

Haley: We all have off days, how do you motivate yourself on yours?

Priscilla: I am honest with myself and I don’t try to pretend everything is fine. I have to acknowledge that I am having a bad moment and that my train of thought needs to change. I never have bad days, I have moments. I look at all the things I am taking for granted at that moment, the fact that I am alive, I have people that love me, I am healthy, etc. 

When it comes to training, I speak to my coach and let her know what’s going on and we look at training and what needs to be adjusted. When it comes to my everyday life, I do something that most people don’t, I take a personal day. Yep a whole day to enjoy the life I was blessed to be given. Shower and do something new to my hair, go to CVS and grab candy, fake nails and new eyelashes and pamper myself, watch Netflix Christmas movies, try a new cooking recipe while eating my CVS candy, lol. Take yourself out of that train of thought and treat yaself!

Priscilla Frederick Jump via Cameron Spencer, Getty Images

Priscilla Frederick Jump via Cameron Spencer, Getty Images

Haley: For our readers struggling to stay active and motivated as we enter winter in quarantine, what are two tips you would give them? 

Priscilla: Tip 1: Be kind to your amazing self. Do activities that you will actually enjoy. It doesn’t have to kill you, it could be something that is more relaxing like meditation/yoga. 

Tip 2: Be Consistent & Patient. Staying active and motivated is a habit, doesn’t happen overnight. Write out exactly what you are going to do, what time you are going to do and how long it will last. Plan it out for every single day for 30 days. 

If there are four things I learned from Priscilla it’s the following.

  1. CVS candy is underrated (and binge-worthy)
  2. Personal days to heal your train of thoughts are okay (and bad moments don’t have to turn into bad days)
  3. You are the key to success and happiness in your life
  4. You need to fight for change

Mental health or personal days are underrated. It’s inspiring to read Priscilla’s words and know that even though she has bad moments, she is courageous enough to take control of her train of thought and change the course of her day. 

“Nothing is going to stop my warrior spirit. My talent is limitless, and nothing will stop me”

Priscilla is not shy about her strength. She is brave on and off the track and does not hesitate to voice her opinion or what she needs:

“‘…nothing is going to stop my warrior spirit. My talent is limitless, and nothing will stop me.’ Everyday, that has to be said, every morning and night. Whether you are having a bad day, or a great day, through tears of joy and pain, you must say that to yourself. You are key to success and happiness.”

Priscilla recounts countless things in her daily life that she fights for as a black female field athlete: her goals, social media platforms, her brand, her paycheck. She recognizes her fight and embraces it, and we could all use a little bit of her courage.

She actively chooses to better herself every day to “take the necessary steps to be the change I want to see.” This mission isn’t just a goal, it’s a mindset. Ignoring the negativity in the world to focus on self worth, self love and self realization is a powerful tool for women.  

The women’s U.S. soccer team displayed this strength in their case against wage discrimination in professional soccer. Women have so many role models, not just our family, celebrities, actresses and activists, but we have an endless network of women fighting for change in their daily lives.

Fyli embraces our fight for change and stands with women everywhere who want to RISE (Renew, Inspire, Support, Empower). 

What’s your fight?

 

How to Help

Many people are unaware of the staggering differences in pay for male and female athletes. The first step to creating change is awareness and alerting others. Once more people are aware of this pay discrimination, we can fight it.

Don’t forget to share this article with your family & friends so we can contribute to raising positive awareness.

About Priscilla Frederick

Priscilla Frederick-Loomis is a Professional Track and Field High Jumper representing the country of Antigua and Barbuda.  She was born on Feb. 14th 1989 in Queens, NY, and attended Paul VI High School in Haddonfield, NJ where she began to flourish in sport as well as dance and drama club. Priscilla received an athletic scholarship to St. John’s University in Queens, NY where she majored in Communications with a focus in Television & Film, combining both her passions of Sport and Entertainment. 

Career Highlights:

Antigua & Barbuda National HJ Record Holder

2019 & 2015 Pan American Games Silver Medalist

2019 & 2015 National Female Athlete of the Year

2018 Commonwealth Games Finalist

2017 South Jersey Hall Of Fame Inductee

2016 Olympic Games Competitor

2015-2016 World Championships Competitor

4x NCAA All American – St. John’s University

Other Helpful Links

The Fight for Equal Pay in Women’s Sports