International Women’s Day: Interview with Theamusante
Aléthéa Boucq, better known as Theamusante, is a digital content creator, trained in fashion.
The Frenchwoman decided to challenge herself in the world of simulators, during the year 2020, and has already conquered thousands of fans.
Interviewed by Bruna Brito; Transcribed by Bruna Brito and Hafiz Akbar; Edited by Sam Stewart and Issa
With a striking smile and mannerisms, Aléthéa talked to our team and told us all about her career, inspirations, female representation, equipment and challenges, as well the invitation to represent Alpine in the Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix.
Where did the name “Theamusante” come from?
So my full name is Alethea and my family calls me Thea. Theamusante is basically the french word for amusing and my name, Thea, put together in one piece.
When did the passion for motorsports come?
It was very recently, if I’m completely honest. So when I was growing up, I wasn’t exposed much to motorsports, like I think a lot of women are exposed to fashion and instagram and all these things.
So my fiancé always took me go-karting with him,and he tried for years to make me watch Formula 1, so I picked a team I wasn’t really following. Last year in february, we watched on youtube the Bathurst 12 Hours and it was absolutely amazing I thought it was crazy the overtaking on the mountain, there was some absolutely surprising and scary crashes and then he said “you know I can do that in my rig right?” Then he got me into the rig and I tried it and that was it for me, I just fell in love with it, completely in love.
So it was only about a bit more than a year ago now and that was the point where I fell in love with motorsport and realized that there is a lot more to it than just a couple of cars going around the track and yeah, I got into it and learnt more about F1 through games, so through F1 2020. I’ve learnt about how you need to manage your tyres, all the different engine mapping and i’m still learning on a daily basis because I do a lot of different race series, I got F1, rally.
It’s all really different and yeah, it’s a great way to learn because it’s fun to do. I think a lot of people will fall in love through the years being exposed to it, but yeah, it’s been a great way to learn and obviously i’m very lucky my fiance has been into motorsport since, maybe a young age, so he’s teaching me the things I don’t quite understand cuz yeah, I haven’t got all the knowledge just yet and hopefully in the future, I can teach my children that motorsport is a cool hobby to have.
Is this a full time job for you or is it just something you do on the side?
A lot of people think that’s my main job but no, it’s not. So I studied fashion in London and I am still working in fashion, well in the business side. My full time job when I started streaming was a nine to five. I was coming home and I was streaming and now at the moment, i’m still waiting to go back to work full time, but because of covid, I am working half of my time. I am being helped by the government, but as soon as things go back to normal, I will be back working in fashion full time.
So my channel, it started as a hobby and with 3 goals which was to get more women involved in the world of sim racing, to compete in high level (tournaments) and to create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone.
For newcomers, for women, because I think the sim racing community can be quite daunting because it’s very male-dominated and it’s not always welcoming, it can be quite sexist, etc.. So yeah, those were my three goals but that [the channel] is mostly a hobby and I want to keep it that way because it keeps it fun for me. So that’s not my main job. Maybe in the future i’ll have the opportunity to have it full time but at the moment it’s just not that.
So, when you go back to your full-time job, are you going to continue streaming?
I absolutely love streaming. I think I get very sad when I don’t speak to my community, so I really really enjoy it. It was very scary, if i’m honest, with the first few streams. My heart was racing and I didnt know what I was going to say. My english is not perfect because even though I lived for 10 years in the UK, I still make a lot of grammatical mistakes and yeah, it was very daunting. But I got over it and now I’m just really enjoying it and I want to be better and better at it, and I want to be coming back every day to see how everyone’s doing and spread positivity.
Do you shape your content in such a way to attract more women into the motorsport world?
I carry the mindset that if you can see it, you can be it. So I like to show my face to show that a woman and also newcomers can partake in what I do, in sim racing. Therefore I like to think that I target everyone, female or male, but if you look at my figures, it’s mostly male-dominated. When I started sim racing and streaming, it was 99% male and 1% women, now it’s 97% male and 3% women. So we can see in a year there has been an increase and it’s really good to see, even though it’s very small, if I manage to increase it by 2% each year, I’m happy with this.
I imagine it is difficult to be a woman talking about motorsport? Did you face a lot of prejudice?
Yes and no. there’s a lot of people that are very supportive in the sim racing world and i’ve made some good friends, i’ve met some incredible people that are very supportive all the way through, but there are also some people that I keep away from because the community is just not that welcoming and yeah, I wouldn’t say toxic but yes, they are people who react quite badly to women being involved [in the sim racing scene].
If you look at some posts that I made on a Facebook sim racing group, there are some sexist comments that go on and on. I tried not to focus on them, and then look at the others that understand, but I think the more I show my face, the more people will be understanding,and the sexist it will be quiet because that becomes a thing that is normal. What they are doing is not normal, so i’m trying to change that pattern.
Starting to the beginning again, what are your biggest influences?
So when I started, to be honest, I didn’t have someone to look up to much, and I did not have someone that is of my level. There are a lot of streamers that are in the sim world, and they are really good, but I started off knowing nothing to look up at someone at my level. So I think I’m looking up women who are really inspiring, so Lella Lombardi. She did F4 [and there’s] also an amazing documentary about her on Amazon prime, Michele Mouton who I discovered doing my streams as well when I was doing rally, and people started mentioning her in the chat, and I couldn’t believe how fast she was and all the amazing things she has done to the rally world and motorsport to introduce women to the world of sim racing and all the women and producers who are showing their faces. Yeah, I didn’t have someone to look up in the youtube world if that makes sense.
I think the person we’ll be looking up to in a few years as inspiration will be you. I see how you work hard, and I see that you stream almost every single day, so how did you manage, how is your routine?
So, me and my fiance we have a lot of routines. So even when I was working, we woke up at the same time, eat at the same time. Right now I’m working from home, because of the virus, but before I think it will be a bit harder, ‘cause I have to go to work, get back my car, and we have to do everything quick, so right now is a bit easier. I have to do my practices and the stream, my fiance do the most part of cooking, and I am very lucky, because he cooks really well, so I try to plan all my lunches during the weekend, so I cook on sunday put everything on pots at my fridge, and at that way I can save time during the week and just can go at my rig and practice
How much time do you spend on training?
Every free time, so on Wednesday I spent 3-4 hours because I try to stream in between, and on weekends I try to do more 2-3 hours and streaming. So 5-6 hours on the rig in the afternoon only, and obviously I can’t do on the morning on saturdays [because it is] when I am working for my job, otherwise I would be on the rig training as well, apart of that I tried to stay active, do a lot of sports at home between my streams to make sure. So I say 5-7 hours depending on the days. For example, before the meeting with you, I was training for my section on the weekend. Usually, on Saturdays, I post my schedule to let people know when I’m streaming and it is well organized.
Alethea in her simulator (Photo: Personal archive on twitter @theamusante)
So I have to ask about the F1 Virtual Grand Prix, how did you get involved in that and how was it being the only woman driver on the grid?
I wasn’t very happy with the camera quality cause I was very pixelated, I saw that afterwards, I don’t know why … but yeah it was a very big surprise as well for me. A long time ago my fiance told me to have a team in F1, I picked Renault, because I am french, so I wanted my team to be french, and then more recently I bought a cap, a t-shirt so I could be a real fan and then they changed the name! So I spent all this money on the merch, and then Ricciardo, my favorite driver, left, so I was really shocked.
What happened is that the previous months of streaming I’ve been in contact with some great people I had the opportunity as well to race in the F1 eSports series ,where i was the only girl, but I was at the back, I was the slowest, it was a bit to early in my career to be participating in such a high level and say it’s competition, but I didn’t finish last, and it was really eye-opening, and I think a lot of people started noticing my name in eSport competitions and be able to be noticed at such early stage in my sim racing career, they have noticed my name.
There’s also a couple of things I have done which have made people notice me. So I have this idea of doing more female racing championships which would help women to discover the world of sim racing and motorsport. So I did a video which was spotted by a GT3 driver who is organising SimGrid, which is a site where they organise some competitions on Assetto Corsa Competizione. He noticed my video, and emailed me, saying “I really love your idea, can we help you organise it?”. So I couldn’t believe it, they really involved me into the season one, and it was a lot of work for the season, a lot of meeting to try to involve a lot of women, and that really helped for people to notice that I was doing so much so much work to try and get women up there.
So Alpine messaged me asking to speak to me, so they spoke to me on Monday before the race and they said we would be interested to have you, but it’s not 100% confirmed, and the next day if you are able we can talk to the Alpine team. So I said OK, fine I can speak to you again tomorrow, at the next day, they said ok fine, you are confirmed, so literally 4 days before, I had to start practicing for the race and if I’m completely honest with you I didn’t spend too much time recently on F1 2020, so I spent my 4 days doing that. I couldn’t think about anything else, I was too excited for the important event. So yeah it was a bit out of the blue, but I think its on the list of things i’ve done that has got me opportunities and hopefully I will get another opportunity soon.
Watch Theamusante’s performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_x53maksf4&list=PLfoNZDHitwjVvteniqNrNgxMNxhFpF0LS&index=7
So I came across your rally cup and it reminds me of mario kart, in a way. When you were a kid did you spend your time in video games as well?
When I was a kid, I played mario kart on the Wii. but that’s pretty much the only game I’ve played. My brother was into football games, so we didn’t really play that together and my fiance got me into a few games a couple of years ago and it was on console. I was either 22 or 25 when I started playing forza horizon. It’s a great game, we played online as well with his brother and we’re doing all the different events online so it was great. I love the easter eggs, it was so fun finding all these vintage cars hidden around the map. That really got me to start liking cars and I started go-karting here and there and I was actually beating some of his mates so I was really happy and I thought that maybe I have a bit of potential. When he got me on track, I really gave myself this routine and training five days a week and I would get better because I didn’t have much time in the beginning when I was working full time. As a kid, I didn’t really do that and now I will definitely get my kid to do a lot more of that. About that trophy, it was the trophy that I gave to the winner of the rally championship. I chose that trophy because my grandmother used to be a marathon runner in france and she did so many marathons and she had so many trophies on her chimney and she had one that I really love, so I picked one that reminded me of the old school trophies she had when she was racing in the 90s or before that even. But the community is so kind, the winner said “no no we can’t accept it”, but you win so you need to have it, I want you to have it so please accept it and he was very happy when he received it but he felt bad because it was virtual and he felt like he didn’t deserve the trophy
I think after the pandemic, we are seeing more sim races, virtual grand prixs, and esports in general not as a hobby but something of itself. Like, the scenario is changing. Would you agree?
Yeah it’s interesting. I did a podcast with James Baldwin and we were talking about how it’s changing in the next few years and how a lot of racing drivers are turning themselves to it because of course they can’t always be racing with the current virus. I think they see it will keep getting bigger and bigger over the years and maybe it will be as important as some of the races we got in the real world.
What is your dream car?
Well the dream car is a very very difficult one to answer because someone asked me what my favourite car is in the simulator and I couldn’t even pick that. I used to like one car and stay with it. Now I can’t because every car is so different when you drive them. I’ve always loved the 60s mini cooper and it will always have a special place in my heart. In fact, if I can have it one day, it would be so great. Recently, I have discovered that I like american muscle cars so I’ve driven the old mustang in assetto corsa, which I really love, and just last week, I discovered the shelby cobra from the 60s as well and I was driving it around the Nordschleife and that was just incredible. I was doing a stream whilst im doing it and my face is so focused because I’m enjoying it so much like the way you’re turning. So my favourite car would be muscle cars and the minI but then again I have my favourite gt3 car, favourite gt4 car so its a really difficult question.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
It’s difficult to answer that one. My fiance is saying a couple of babies and dogs. We were going to get married last year on our 10th anniversary but because of the virus, that didn’t happen and obviously we didn’t expect the channel to be such a success so my plans are a little bit blurry in my head because I see myself getting married, having a house and children, and continuing my job in fashion. But now I would really want my channel to be more successful in the future. We have big plans, but idk if we can make them just yet. I would love to be able to make them and grow my channel bigger than what it is now. It’s a very tough question because I would like goals in a year’s time and see if we can reach them rather than in 10 years.
What is your advice to the girls that want to have a future in racing?
I find it really hard at the beginning because it’s very male dominated and I didnt feel welcome at all. Because if you’re a woman walking into a room with 100 men, it’s very intimidating so I was very afraid to do anything, I was too afraid to make friends at all, I was being made fun of because I didn’t know what angle to use in my car etc. so I would say ignore all this and just carry on. If you love what you do, you will learn along the way and all this negative comment will not matter in the end. Continue what you want to do because passion is important. At the end of the day, if you ignore all this negative comment and focus on what you love, you will be helping to build a positive environment and all the negative comments will just disappear and it will be positive in the end so I think keep doing what you love, make sure to stay positive, and don’t look at the negatives.
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Read more about International Women’s Day here
To read an interview we at DIVEBOMB did with another promising female superstar, Juju Noda, click here