Béatrice Média Brings Feminist Content to Montreal

Meet Co-Founder Adriana Palanca

Adriana Palanca is the founder of Béatrice Média. Courtesy Melissa Trottier

Adriana Palanca doesn’t live the most traditional life.

The first thing she mentioned is a habit that one might find more common in a 20-year-old college student than an established businesswoman.

“Man, I really got to do laundry,” she said, laughing. “The thing is that I am a fully fledged adult, and have been for some time, but whenever my mother comes to visit, she is appalled at the amount of laundry I have lying around.”

Palanca is reminiscent of Tina Fey, not only in appearance but also in her unapologetically hilarious demeanor. The professional podcaster’s voice echoes with cheerful confidence and invites listeners in with friendly enthusiasm. Her smile travels through the soundwaves.

“I absolutely love Tina Fey. When we talk about the people who influence [Béatrice Média], it’s definitely her,” she said talking about her latest venture: a feminist media project.

Palanca is no stranger to the world of online media. She has spent the better part of her career as a blogger, freelance writer, content creator and media consultant.

Her voice bounces with energy. It’s impossible to picture her at a traditional five-days-a-week office job—it just wouldn’t suit her. It’s probably why, after getting her undergraduate degree at Concordia University, she took on the challenging world of freelance.

“Over the years, I’ve been trying to find a way to make my work more meaningful and to feel as if I’m leaving some kind of legacy,” she explains. “That’s what led to Béatrice Média.”

For Palanca, Béatrice Média has been a long time coming. The company hosts panel discussions and produces a weekly podcast centered around feminism and the struggles of being a woman in the 21st century.

Palanca has spent a fair amount of time surrounded by women who distanced themselves from feminism. She has observed women around her feel afraid to identify as a feminist for fear of being labeled as angry or unreasonable. This inspired her to create a platform that addresses these issues directly and gives her room to explore womanhood today.

“We embraced a kind of feminism that we did not see in the media,” she pointed out. “I thought it would be interesting to talk about the female experience, not in relation to men. Not to turn it into a comparison platform, but to talk about it in an honest humorous way.”

Starting the project with a friend in April 2016, the first step was to turn an idea into a business. She and her friend took on a partner, Mireille St. Pierre, and started planning for where they wanted the company to go. Creative differences made Palanca’s original business partner drop out of the project and Palanca took on the journey with St. Pierre alone.

“I have dealt with colleagues and clients who treated me like their secretary. Like I didn’t know what I was doing” – Adriana Palanca

But who is Béatrice? Palanca chuckles at this question.

“It was supposed to be a B originally, like a pair of boobs on the side,” she said. “Mireille was doodling and she wrote out B-E-A. I immediately thought of Beatrice and the name stuck. Beatrice in Latin means ‘bringer of happiness.’”

“And there are the connections with both Dante’s Beatrice and Shakespeare’s Beatrice,” Palanca explained.

Daughter of Italian immigrants, Palanca was born and raised in Montreal in the 1970s. She recalled what she referred to as “a traditionally modeled childhood.” Her voice slowed a bit, her prior enthusiasm slightly dampened. She remembered being told by her mother that as a woman, it was her job to care for the men in her life and clean up after them. She remembers believing that it is a woman’s job to do housework and that men, whether she likes it or not, would be held to a different standard than her. It’s a mindset that followed her into adulthood.

“I have been a professional for 15 years. I have dealt with colleagues and clients who are condescending, who essentially treated me like I was their secretary. Who treated me like I didn’t know what I was doing,” she tells me.

But Palanca explained how the overwhelmingly positive response to the podcasts makes it all worth it. She said the best part of her work is when women share their own stories and find an outlet to express themselves. Women have approached her on the street, eager to share their own stories of struggle and victory. Others contact her online, all earnestly seeking an outlet to express themselves in a place free of judgement.
But for Béatrice Média’s first year of life, it has been quite the journey. Palanca said the biggest struggle is figuring out how to generate profit though the company. However, she insisted that the project is growing and improving.

On Jan. 11, the company hosted its first panel discussion on women and self-censorship. The event attracted dozens of young men and women, all of them eager to contribute to the discussion and share their own stories. Palanca says that this is what the company is all about and looks forward to explore all the possible outlets for future feminist media.

“There’s all kind of possibilities: video, merchandise, maybe even starting a small publishing house. Béatrice Média is going to be around a long time,” she said. “We aren’t going anywhere.”