How To Be Sad with Helen Russell

Season 2 #7 Matthew Ashton

June 2, 2021

My guest today is the toy designer Matthew Ashton - Vice President of design at Lego; Executive Producer on the Lego Movies; head judge on Lego Masters UK; creator of Unikitty and the man behind Lego’s first ever LGBTQ+ set – the rainbow inspired Everyone is Awesome. The set represents a huge milestone both for Lego and for Matthew personally, who has spoken out about the struggles he faced growing up as an LGBTQ+ kid in the 1980s and 90s.

He says: ‘being told what I should play with, how I should walk, how I should talk, what I should wear – the message I always got was that somehow I was ‘wrong’. I wish, as a kid, I had looked at the world and thought: ‘This is going to be OK, there’s a place for me’. I wish I’d seen an inclusive statement that said ‘everyone is awesome’” - and so, he made it himself.

He’s putting it out there into the world to mark the start of Pride Month.


Here, we talk about:


- Growing up under section 28

- ‘Throwing like a girl’

- Learning to ‘breathe’ for the first time

- Lego (& other life changing moments)

- Breaking down (even when you have the best job in the world)

- …and building back up again

- Why therapy takes patience

- Finding purpose, now

Follow Matthew on Instagram @matthew__ashton or on Twitter @matthew__ashton

Follow Helen on social media @MsHelenRussell

How To Be Sad, the book, is out now.

Thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

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