Madam C.J. Walker was born into slavery as Sarah Breedlove, but became the first self-made female millionaire in the US, creating a beauty empire that helped African-American women celebrate their natural beauty. Using her influence to push for anti-lynching laws before the Civil Rights Movement, she also became a model entrepreneur. Listen to writer Wendy Calhoun tell Madam C.J.’s story.
This month we’re proud to offer this interview with the beautiful and brilliant poet Jane Hirshfield. I met Jane through the Philosophical Club in San Francisco, a meeting place for artists and scientists convened by Lucia Jacobs (both artist and scientist). I am always impressed with Jane’s comments at these gatherings— both scholarly and humanist, an irresistible combination. I know you will enjoy her insightful interview and I hope it will inspire you to read Jane’s work as well as that of her subject, Ono no Komachi. We have so much to learn from the women who came before us. From Komachi: Wash the cheater’s book and his lies will fade away…
Award-winning poet, essayist, and translator Jane Hirshfield tells us about ancient Japanese poet Ono no Komachi, a woman whose work feels so contemporary that it speaks to Jane as if it is her own experience. Komachi is one of the very few women in the Japanese Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry. She wrote brilliantly with a mastery of language that made her a legend in her own time… and for the next two millennia. Jane Hirshfield brings to life the work of this astonishing woman.
Last weekend’s powerful #OurLivesMatter marches and speeches remind us all of the determination of young activists. Our latest video spotlights another young activist— six year old Ruby Bridges who stood up to virulent racism and persevered. Actor/writer Reneé Threatte recounts the emotional story of this little girl who integrated a New Orleans elementary school in the midst of hatred and violence. Renée opens up about what Ruby’s story means to her and what we can all learn from this child’s courage.
And, we are delighted to announce we reached 97% of our goal this past weekend! Thank you to EVERYONE who donated. Your support means so much to us as it allows us to continue to tell these amazing stories. We’re extending the fundraiser for a few days because donations are still coming in and we are certain to reach 100% of the goal soon.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a bisexual Mexican nun, writer, inventor and more who became controversial for her 17th Century feminism. Playwright Jesse Bliss tells Sor Juana’s story and explains why it gives her hope for women today.
If you like the video, please DONATE to help us bring you more powerful stories.
Dr. Christine Darden started as a “human computer” at NASA, fighting sexism and racism to advance as a leader, building a 40-year career there. Hear influencer and New York Times best-seller Gaby Dunn tell Darden’s story, reminding us what can happen when you advocate for yourself.
And we are almost to 50% of our fundraising goal! Don’t forget to hit the DONATE button at the top of the page.
I’m delighted to share a new interview with the formidable Joan Blades (co-founder of MoveOn.org, Moms Rising and Living Room Conversations — her recent TED Talk is nearing a million views!) Joan tells us about Dr. Arlene Blum, a scientist/mountaineer who led the first team of American women to scale Annapurna AND discovered the carcinogen in kids’ pajamas. Arlene continues to work to rid our world of toxins with The Green Policy Institute. Both of these women are really rather amazing and I think you’ll be inspired to hear Joan talk about her good friend Arlene.
We’ve also launched our NEW WEBSITE where you can search our growing library of videos as well as our database of Astonishing Women. You can search for women artists, scientists, activists, journalists, etc. We’re continuing to grow our archive this year with shoots in Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York City.
Look What SHE Did! was filmed as part of the Los Angeles Women’s March last weekend and we’re still flying high from the experience. We marched, chanted, carried signs and listened. The speeches were powerful. The message of the moment:
Let women speak.
Let them speak in their own ways, about things that matter to them. It’s an exciting time for women, for speaking truth and being heard, for addressing inequities we’ve all lived with for so long. And it’s an exciting time for our small non-profit. We’re proud to be part of this movement by telling stories of women who need to be recognized, women who’ve overcome obstacles like misogyny, harassment, abuse, poverty, lack of education and all the rest. Our videos encourage and inspire, reminding viewers of the power they have to make a difference, wherever they are, to make life better for all of us.
– Julie and the Look What SHE Did! team
Happy Holidays, my friends.
What an amazing year for Look What SHE Did! The response to our work has been tremendous and I think it’s because we are meeting a true need— telling positive stories by, for and about women. We are narrating an alternative history, filling in the gaps with tales of the untold achievements of women.
In this current environment of #MeToo and #ShePersisted our mission and our message could not be more relevant and could not stand out more— because we are a joyful enterprise, telling joyful stories that accumulate into a powerful new version of history. This is our mission and we’re just getting started. Thank you for standing with us.
We’re closing out the year with good friend Juliette Carrillo telling us about brilliant avant-garde director JoAnne Akalaitis.
Wishing you a joyful holiday and a peaceful New Year
From all of us at Look What SHE Did!
“The room was so alive… because she was listening on such a deep level.”
Juliette Carrillo gives us insight into the profound creative process of one of America’s great theater directors, JoAnne Akalaitis… a woman we should all know more about.
We have so much to be thankful for. First of all, we have each other. We are a community— a national community— and we are listening to each other’s stories. Hearing the truth of someone else’s experience and receiving it with empathy is at the core of being a decent human. I am profoundly thankful— to the people speaking their truth and to the people listening and being supportive. Amazing.
This month’s new interview is a kick. Famous beauty and film icon Hedy Lamarr was a science geek! During World War II she invented — really, this is crazy— she patented a technology called frequency hopping to keep the Nazis from jamming US radio signals. No one took her seriously, but decades later her invention gave birth to bluetooth and cellphones. Shoulda listened to Hedy! Acclaimed mathematician, Dr. Olga Holtz tells the story.
What a month. The epic eruption of the #MeToo campaign proved how necessary it is to acknowledge the achievements of women, achievements made in spite of systemic gender bias and pervasive sexual harassment. Reading the stories humbled us and reminded us how essential our project is. Thank you for sticking with us.
Our storyteller this round is Dr. Lucia Jacobs (UC Berkeley neuroscientist) whose work on animal consciousness and olfaction is as deep and true as her work as a writer of plays and a creator of miniature theatrical spectacles. She’s a force, and it’s no surprise her astonishing woman— Sarah Blaffer Hrdy— is a mind-blower.
You’ve heard of Darwin and Stephen Jay Gould, but have you heard of Sarah Blaffer Hrdy? She’s an anthropologist who proved that females— like males— are competitive, independent, and sexually assertive beings. (Gasp!) Oh yeah, and they don’t just mate to reproduce— they can actually enjoy sex. Hrdy’s findings were groundbreaking not just for scientists, but for feminists too. In this video, Lucia recounts the incredible untold story of disrupter Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, the biologist our textbooks should have included.
Oh my god, wait til you see this one. The incredibly articulate Sylvie Drake tells us about “the first great woman in history of whom we are informed.” I have no doubt you have never heard of her, and no doubt you will be delighted to know of this woman who was called “Her Majesty, the King” because there was no word for Queen yet! A most modern woman… in 1500 B.C. No kidding, watch this one, it’s a kick and will make you smarter!
As a young girl growing up in Egypt Sylvie Drake learned of Queen Hatshepsut, the first great woman of history, a monarch who lived over a thousand years before Cleopatra. Her reign has all the markings of greatness including winning battles to establish power, presiding over a long era of peace and prosperity, opening trade routes, visionary architecture, a recorded legacy and… get this… this is the woman who invented eyeliner! You need to know about Queen Hatshepsut. Click.