WOWFEST: “Justice is only for the people who can afford it!”

WOW Festival – Day 1

Maxine Peake – chaired by Jude Kelly and Maxine Peake

“Justice is only for the people who can afford it” are the ominous first words from the leading actress in the BBC’s Silk, Maxine Peake. Just coming from a march, where she joined barristers and lawyers in protest against the cut of legal aid, Peake sits on the stage and explains to the audience that we need to act, and we need to act now! In complete silence, the audience hangs on every word she says.

*Apologies for the quality*

*Apologies for the quality*

Maxine Peake is one of the stellar actresses from the UK who is best known for her many roles in portraying powerful women within society. Personally, I grew up with Peake in her perfect performance of Veronica Fisher in Channel 4’s Shameless, where she played a tough council estate woman willing to fight to the bone to get what she wanted. Also remembering from reruns on Comedy Gold of her comedy acting as Twinkle in Victoria Wood’s Dinner Ladies. Peake certainly has a strong set of female personas under her belt.

But it was Peake’s presence at WOWFEST that really got the audience motivated and engaged in the core values that the festival holds. Empowerment. Independence. Individuality. Throughout Peake’s entire career she mentions that she has always guided herself and only done what she has thought as right, never feeling influenced or under pressure to do something. Even from an early age at drama school Peake says she took “a realistic approach to acting” and knew her limitations, which in return gave her power. However, in recent light Peake has decided to through caution to the wind and says “If someone thinks I can do it, I’ll do it” and now leaves all her acting choices to people who believe in her.

Peake goes on to discuss how it is important to bring women’s stories to the front of the media, in not only the news, but also in the theatre and the arts. She says: “women’s stories are calling solidarity” around the world and we need to come together to change the way women are stereotyped in society.


Speaking on her latest work, Peake describes her writing career and a set of radio plays she produced on women in the miners strike. Coming from a coal-mining town this was of particular interest to me and had me listening. She describes the story of three women and how they managed to occupy and strike down in the mines for 4 nights and 5 days. She uses this as a key example of bringing untold, powerful women’s stories to the front of the media.

Lastly, Peake talks about her latest venture into acting as the main in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, being one of recents, in a long line of many females, to act out the famous and testing role.

Many thanks to Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World Festival 2014 for putting together an amazing pair of individuals.


Find out more here –



  • Maxine Peake’s rush to the stage from the floor, where she had been mentoring the public before hand, showing exactly how down to earth she is
  • Jude Kelly energy that kept delving deeper into Maxine’s.
  • The general and mutual respect from the whole audience and the speakers.

‘Best quote’ from the talk

  • “Justice is only for those who can afford it!”
  • “If you are a woman, and you are too talented, people are scared of you”
  • “Ambition and women are two very negative words in the media”
  • “If some thinks I can do it, ill do it!”
  • “Women’s stories around the world are calling solidarity.”
  • “No, no ‘Plan B’. That’s where you are going wrong” (in response to an audience member asking about going to drama school and having a back up plan. Peake says that if you want something enough all you need is a ‘Plan A’ and hard work)

2 thoughts on “WOWFEST: “Justice is only for the people who can afford it!”

  1. Middlesex Journalism says:

    Reblogged this on Middlesex Journalism and commented:
    By Jake Toon

    In March 2014 a number of Middlesex Journalism students were offered the opportunity to blog for the Women of the World Festival at Southbank Centre.

    Below is an example of one such article, reblogged from Jake’s personal blog.

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