Liz Cambage is a WNBA star (she plays for the Las Vegas Aces and holds the record for most points scored in a WNBA game), an Olympian (she won a bronze medal playing for her native Australia in the 2012 Olympics), and a mental health advocate. Now, she can add ambassador for Savage X Fenty to her résumé. Cambage is the first professional athlete to partner with the brand, joining celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion, Rosalía, Lizzo, and Laura Harrier. The athlete says it had been on her list of goals for a while now, especially since Rihanna has been an idol of hers ever since she was growing up in Australia.
We recently chatted with Cambage about how she got involved with the new campaign. And of course, we had to get some questions in about her wellness routine, body confidence, and how she takes care of her mental health. Take a look below.
The Savage X Fenty campaign looks amazing. Congratulations! How did you get involved with it?
I'm one to write down all my goals and aspirations. I love to put pen to paper, and I think that really helps me, like visualizing and helping my goals come to reality. So I have this big list, and my agent Allison Galer, she's like, "What do you want to do? What do you want me to chase after for you?" And we went from ESPN's The Body Issue to Playboy to now Fenty. I've been a big, big fan of Rihanna since I was a little girl. She was one of the only Black women on TV and on the radio I had to look up to while growing up in Australia. She's been a big idol of mine for a long time, so to be able to be involved with her and come be with her groundbreaking brand, it means a lot.
Twenty-twenty really upended everyone's plans, and I know it's changed things for you. How did you deal with all of the changes, like with the WNBA and the Olympics? How were you able to shift your mindset while staying motivated and focused on your goals?
Last year wasn't easy for anyone, especially for Olympic athletes who have just spent the last four years—or the last eight years or the years since they were a kid—chasing their dreams to get to the Olympics. But we're so lucky that it's been pushed back a year. Change isn't easy, especially when you have had your mind so focused on a goal and a plan. But I think last year told everyone that tomorrow isn't promised for anyone, and you've just got to be able to overcome the changes. It took me a while to really adjust to lockdown life.
We had it really strict in Australia, and I'm thankful for that because we are very low to no cases at the moment out there. We have festivals. We have clubs. We have restaurants. We have everything back in Australia again; we're so lucky. But change is not easy. I went through it last year. We all went through it, but you just have to adapt and go with it. You can't be a rock stuck in a hard place—you got to stay flexible with it all.
Was it hard to stay motivated with training because things had been postponed?
I'm lucky. I'm the type of person that needs to train every day for my mental health. If I'm not out and being active, if I put on a bit of weight… I have two Achilles issues, and that's going to hurt me physically in different ways. I'm lucky that I'm a vain Leo, and I've always got to stay on top of my game for myself and my mind, my body, and the spirit. I've got to keep moving, and I've got to keep fit. And I'm just lucky that's the way I'm born and bred.
How has your wellness routine changed? What's it like nowadays?
I've stayed the same. I really stayed the same. I wake up every day, I do my morning cardio, I have my big smoothie, and I'm either on the court or in the gym working out. If anything, I'm still trying to learn to chill—even in a pandemic, I was the most active person. I have no idea how people like to sit and do nothing. Something I really work on with my coaches and my sports psych is like, I can't just sit still. I've got ants in my pants 24/7. So if anything, what I'm trying to work on is how to chill out. Even when I'm on holiday, I still got to get up and run, and I'm always working. I saw a meme the other day, and it said really high-active people confuse peace with boredom, and that's what I'm trying to do—I'm trying to learn that being peaceful and relaxing isn't boredom. I'm trying to work on my meditation and just being still.
I'm so used to working nonstop, chasing goals, this and that, and it's been tough. It's been tough learning to do nothing, especially when you are a super-active person or have a pretty high profile and active job. Everyone's had to learn just to chill, and it's something I'm not the greatest at, but we've all had to deal with it.
You talked a little bit about staying active for your mental health, but what else do you do to take care of your mental health?
I think you just learn and adapt to what works for you. My circle has gotten so much smaller; I can't be taking on lots of different people's energies these days. I think COVID-19 and lockdown had a lot to do with that, but I'm grateful for that. I'm really just protecting my energy a lot. That's my main thing—just protect your energy and protect what you should surround yourself with because their energy rubs off on you. So that's how I just try to be these days. I'm just surrounded by good people. I try to not speak badly about nothing or no one, and it's all about good intentions as well.
You've been a professional athlete for more than 10 years. What are some things that you've learned about yourself as you've grown as an athlete and risen to certain challenges that come with being in the spotlight?
I think the hardest thing for me is that I'm a very emotional person. And being emotional, especially in sports over the years, has been looked upon as such a weakness. I'm happy that people are changing their ways about how they look at emotion because I can't bottle it up. If I bottle it up, it's going to explode, and it's going to be a mess, and it's going to be a lot. If more people just wore their heart and their emotion on their sleeve and just portrayed how they're really feeling, how they're really thinking, and what they're really carrying, the world would be such a peaceful place. What's been a really hard thing for me is I'm an only child, and I've spent my whole career since I was 16 living out of home and on the other side of the world, and it hasn't been easy being away from my family and my closest friends back in Melbourne, Australia. I think that's been the hardest thing, learning to be okay with being an emotional person and using it as a strength, being proud of it, and wearing it with pride.
My passion for my game is when you lose, it hurts. When you win, it's exciting. When I score, I'm going to celebrate. Those are all things that people have tried to tear me down for, but at the end of the day, I'm a human, and I'm just doing my job the best I can do. I'm going to do it to the fullest, and that means all my emotions out on the table.
I read that you're 6'8," which sounds amazing to me since I'm a mere 5'3." I think a lot of people get self-conscious about their height sometimes—I've always wished that I was a couple inches taller. I'm wondering if you had a weird relationship with your height or if you've always been okay with it.
Girl, I hated myself. I got so bullied and teased in high school, but hey, look at me now. If God did not bless me with these six-foot-eight inches of greatness, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be chilling in Beverly Hills on the phone to you right now.
I'm proud of every inch of my body, every pound. It's all mine, it's all me, and I was given this body, and it is my vessel. I'm so lucky that I have an amazing job that takes me around the world, and I've met amazing people. And somehow, me doing me inspires people, and that's a blessing because I spent a lot of my years growing up hating myself and trying to shrink myself. And I think I was 16 or 17 when I just got to the point where I was like, "I can't shrink; I'm a whole 6'8."" You can get lipo to make yourself smaller, but you can't get the bones removed to make yourself shorter. I can't change any part of me unless I go chop myself off at the knee, so I just got to embrace it.
Growing up, people would always comment on how good my posture was for a tall girl. I always had good posture because I had a really flat chest, and I was always trying to poke my boobs out. So that's why I always had good posture, and hunching over, that looks crazy. You're bringing more attention to yourself trying to shrink yourself than just standing up and being prideful in the vessel that you've been given from the power above. You were born this way for a reason, and everyone just needs to embrace who they are because we are beautiful the way God intended us to be.
My last question is related to that: How do you find confidence, and how do you step into your own sexuality and femininity?
It took a long time—like 20 years of my life—to really become comfortable and proud of my body. And it just comes with growth and living. I feel like we all really do grow into our skin the older we get. Instagram and advertising have changed so much. Naomi Campbell is one of my greatest idols. I was very big into fashion design growing up, so I've spent years and years looking at Vogue and all the fashion magazines and just staring at her and Tyra, the only Black models back then.
Now, it's so diverse. Media is getting more and more diverse; advertising is getting more and more diverse. Australia's still got a long way to go, but in America, when I moved here when I was 19, that's when I first really started to feel empowered by my body and my skin color. But it comes with time, and it comes with just accepting that you are who you are and that you can't change who you are and that you were given this vessel for a reason. You should love it, and you should care for it because it's all we got.