Lissie Mackintosh: "I never thought I could work in F1"
If you’ve found yourself scrolling through countless Formula 1 related videos on TikTok, there’s a high likelihood you’ve stumbled across one by Lissie Mackintosh. After starting out in the motorsport world as a writer, Lissie soon began to create not-so-serious TikTok videos, until one gained a few (or ten thousand) views overnight. Then, TikTok became pretty serious. Now, this is her job.
Lissie started following Formula 1 in her early teenage years but never watched it properly; it was more like something to check in on every so often for her until she was studying Art History at university in London. However, before university and whilst she was studying a degree she had no interest in, Lissie never considered Formula 1 or motorsport as a potential career path.
“I wanted to do something that actually makes me feel happy and makes me feel like I have a purpose,” Lissie says. “That’s the thing about working in F1.
“I had no expectation of what working in F1 was going to look like, especially in terms of TikTok. That helped massively because it was the best surprise ever and I cannot believe this is my life.”
Content creation isn’t a new phenomenon; however, the concept of a motorsport content creator is very new. Comparing it to the YouTubers she grew up with – like Zoella – Lissie highlights that there was success in their root.
“It’s scary to think that there have been very few motorsport content creators whose footsteps you could follow in, like you would have if you were starting out as a fashion or lifestyle content creator in the last few years,” Lissie says. “Having no expectations of where TikTok would take me has been incredibly surprising, as everything that’s happened has exceeded I ever could have imagined.
“I’ve learnt to trust the process and keep working hard. You just say yes to every opportunity.”
Lissie recalls not seeing many people who looked like her in motorsport. Now, we’re seeing more women working in Formula 1, as the sport reaches more of a diverse demographic thanks to the success of Drive to Survive and the excitement of the 2021 season. At the recent Women’s Wildcard Esports event hosted at the McLaren Technology Centre, Lissie met Natalie Pinkham, someone she’s looked up to throughout the years.
“After I met Natalie, I sent her a message saying thank you for being such a campaigner for women in sports and for being so badass at what you do,” Lissie says. “I want to be good at what I do and show that just because I’m a woman and wear jewellery and makeup, I can still be good at what I do.”
When it comes to TikTok, Lissie initially created and uploaded videos just for fun. At first, like many others in the motorsport world, Lissie never thought to speak much online, particularly about topics that may be controversial. In online spaces dedicated to Formula 1 – like ‘F1 Twitter’ – it’s difficult to get your opinion and ideas across in a way that can be understood universally. It’s not uncommon for people to keep their opinions to themselves.
“I don’t want to say anything that’s going to be misconstrued,” Lissie says. “I’m wary of saying certain things and then I have to remind myself that the reason people maybe resonate is because I am myself and I’m not a nasty person.”
Of course, it’s a given that not everybody will agree with your opinions online, and as Lissie explains, “I’ve always been the kind of person that if I really want something, I’m not going to stop if someone’s going to say something nasty.”
Once Lissie graduated from university, she flew to New York alone and it was there that she decided to upload a video to TikTok including current F1-related news and rumours. Overnight, that video got ten thousand views, and it was at this point that Lissie decided to begin speaking about things online, that people actually liked what she was talking about.
“That initial boost came because there weren’t places online where you could go and see all the F1 news in two minutes,” she says. “It definitely takes a few months to get things off the ground but it was worth it.
“When you work for yourself and your name is on your brand, it’s so personal to me. What I’ve built is like my baby and I’m so proud of it.”
Difficulty often strikes when TikTok becomes about numbers and the small minority of people who leave negative comments on some of Lissie’s videos. She recognises that not every video will reach numbers like some others, but Lissie doesn’t let that become her main focus. At the end of the day, she makes her videos because it’s something she enjoys doing.
“No one prepares you for 400,000 people on one video who can say whatever they want,” Lissie says. “There is no filter.
“You grow a thick skin very, very quickly.”
As well as uploading videos to TikTok, Lissie hosts the Going Purple podcast. At its core, Going Purple is more feature-based compared to her TikTok page, and Lissie wanted to create a space where she can interview those working in the industry and share their stories.
“The ultimate goal for me is to become an F1 presenter and that’s because I love interviewing people,” she says. “I want to hear about people’s lives and everyone in this industry has an interesting story to tell.”
Equally, Lissie wanted her podcast to be a place where young fans could go to listen to another young person talking about Formula 1. As she says in the introduction of each podcast episode, Going Purple is where “we talk about the serious F1 stuff in a not-so-serious way”.
“F1 does such a good job at bringing in new and young fans, but I don’t feel that there’s any place for them to land in the sport,” Lissie says. “That’s what my podcast and socials really do.
“Why is there so much animosity in sport? Why can’t we have a woman who’s good at her job, but also just wants to create content? I don’t understand why there are so many barriers. That’s what I wanted to do; talk about things and make them less taboo.”
Putting a podcast episode together is what takes the longest time compared to other content Lissie creates and produces, but it’s also been the biggest learning curve for her. Only recently did she get her first proper microphone and to Lissie, that in itself is so symbolic because it’s an important step up from where she used to be.
As a motorsport content creator, you face fans of the sport and are in between Formula 1 and people who consume it. As a female content creator, Lissie uses her social media to talk about fashion and F1, among other things.
“Why is it that just because you have a slightly more feminine interest in something and you love the sport, that you’re not as serious?” Lissie asks. “There are so many incredible women in this industry and I wish more people knew that.”
With social media and content creation only growing in popularity, we’re going to see more content creators breaking into the motorsport world over the next few months and years. It’s important that we continue to make the motorsport environment welcoming for all, and that’s something Lissie hopes she can contribute to.
“What’s equally as important as having more women in motorsport is having more women believe that they have an equal chance and right to work in motorsport,” she says. “I never thought I could work in F1. I thought it was more of a male job.
“There are really relatable role models, of which I hope to be one, who are going to initiate change. It’s so tough to think that we’re in 2022 and so much of the world is the way it is, but even if you can help one person, it fulfils you more than you know, and I hope that can happen in the future on a greater scale, too.”
Image Credit: Lissie Mackintosh