Here’s a behind-the-scenes snippet from our Look What SHE Did! shoot last year at the Ebell— you’ll see I’m not nearly as comfortable on camera as I am behind the camera! Watch, and if you support what we’re doing, please DONATE to our fundraising campaign, whatever you can give will be GREATLY APPRECIATED. We rely on you to keep doing this work. – Julie
We are especially thrilled to share this month’s interview with you. I remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s bruising Congressional confirmation hearing and the unfair way she was treated. I will never forget her poise in the face of those overt sexist attacks. I was yelling at the TV screen on her behalf, but she modeled another way of responding; she took every insult and provocation as an opportunity to set the record straight in a thoughtful way. They couldn’t rattle her. I’d never seen anything like it. Her reasonable, modest approach undermined their accusations that she was some kind of extremist feminist who would destroy the morals of the nation. She was a teacher for me in those moments and I’ll always be grateful to her. I’ve called on her spirit of articulate equanimity many times since then.
When my dear friend Felicity Huffman said she wanted to tell us the story of Justice Ginsburg, I was in favor of celebrating this amazing woman though she is more well-known than most of our subjects. Felicity uncovered anecdotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early life that will surprise you, and you’ll see how personal it is to Felicity when she opens up about what she wants her daughters to know about the Notorious RBG.
Watch the video here — you’ll be glad you did– then comment freely and share it widely.
This launches our annual fundraising campaign during Women’s History month. We’ll be posting a new video each week, rather than once a month like we usually do. We’ve got some super interviews to share with you in the coming weeks. Please do help us by donating what you can and spreading the word about our stories.
Our theme, #TellHerStory, resonates with all the women’s voices being raised right now. While many of us have shared difficult #MeToo and #TimesUp stories, Look What SHE Did! covers different ground– presenting stories of astonishing female accomplishment, women who have changed the world despite the obstacles. We need your support to keep doing that. This organization has the potential to grow into a significant force for good. Thanks for giving generously. Much appreciated.
To donate click the donate button at the top of the page.
It is a beautiful thing to finally see something you have spent so much time on come to life.
November 5th was a day I had been looking forward to for almost six months. As the four other Archer girls and I showed up to Julie’s house, we entered into a familiar, all-female environment. It was so odd to think that all the hard work and preparation was about to come down to the next five or six hours. We were excited to soak up as much information as possible from our Look What SHE Did! mentors and then begin working by ourselves.
These were our roles for the day:
Cat Oriel: Producer
Sophie Evans-Katz: Cinematographer
Lucia Barker: Director
Rose Shulman-Litwin: Photographer/Interviewed about artist Hannah Wilke
Nelly Rouzroch: Sound recordist/Interviewed about journalist Ethel L. Payne
Similar to the Ebell Shoot, my tasks included making sure we stayed on schedule, updating the slate and changing camera batteries. Since I had already shadowed Courtney, I got to work right away backing up data.
The plan was for us to watch the Look What SHE Did! crew do two interviews with social media influencers Brittany Ashley and Gaby Dunn, and then for us to take control for the last two.
First, we observed Sev Kastrati work behind the camera as Julie directed and interviewed Brittany Ashley. Brittany spoke about research professor Brené Brown, who is well known for her TED Talk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability.” For the second interview of the day, Gaby Dunn spoke about NASA aerospace engineer and mathematician Dr. Christine Darden.
In the afternoon, it was our turn. Rose spoke about artist Hannah Wilke, and then Nelly told us about journalist Ethel L. Payne. Lucia asked them questions, while Sophie filmed.
I liked how Rose and Nelly spoke about how those women have influenced their work as an artist and a journalist, respectively. It made me realize that Look What SHE Did! does more than simply tell the stories of women who deserve more credit. By talking about those who inspire us and sharing their stories, we are also talking about ourselves. We are revealing our own values and beliefs. The people we look up to give others insight into who we are and who we strive to be.
Rose and Nelly both spoke so gracefully, comfortably, candidly and passionately. I was impressed by Lucia, because I could tell she helped them feel comfortable. She made it feel as if they were having a normal conversation, just like Julie does. And when I transferred the data onto the computer, I admired Sophie’s beautiful camera work. I was so happy to have such a great team of girls working with me and making this all possible. I couldn’t help but feel extremely proud to be their fellow Archer girl and friend.
Although the shoot is complete, there is still a lot of work ahead. Once the videos are edited, we are going to plan a screening to further promote the organization. I hope we can create a model plan so that other schools could host a similar mentorship project themselves. And perhaps it is time for me to start planning my next video! Wherever the future takes us, I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store. I know that there are big and exciting things coming for LookWhatSHEDid!
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
Planning the Archer Shoot
Looking back at our initial ideas, the actual shoot looked a lot different than we originally thought it would. From the time we started planning in September to filming day in November, a lot of things happened and changed. But, as I’ve written before, sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and it is usually for the better.
When thinking about the location for the shoot, our high school seemed like the perfect place to film, and we were excited about the idea of filming in Archer’s beautiful central courtyard. However, because of the amount of construction on campus, Archer was not able to accommodate this activity, but still offered to support us in any way possible. We decided to film in Julie’s backyard instead.
When writing the grant, we were planning to have 8 girls total on our team. These roles included a producer, director, cinematographer, sound recordist and 4 interviewees. I initially wanted to reach out to members of different leadership club who could fill out applications about why they should be selected to be interviewed, but I did not want to add more stress to girls’ already hectic workload.
I sent out an email to my entire grade of about 80 girls, and I reached out individually to the girls who attended our small meeting in May. I also approached girls who I thought would be interested, like if they were in the film class or theater. Since this time of the year is really hectic for seniors trying balance schoolwork and extracurriculars with meeting college application deadlines, a lot of girls who were interested simply did not have the time. I still was able to put together a team of 7 other girls that were very excited about the project.
A few weeks before the shoot, Courtney Graham reached out to me about how LWSD! started working with a few consultants at Buzzfeed to help the organization increase their social media presence. She told me that they offered to connect us with YouTubers/social influencers who wanted to be interviewed about the women who inspired them. This was perfect timing because three of the crew members were no longer able to make it. Plus, when I told the girls on the team that we would have the opportunity to work with members of Buzzfeed/YouTubers, they were even more excited to be part of the project.
After finally figuring out my team members and everyone’s roles, I also worked with our film teacher to borrow the necessary equipment, like cameras, SD/video cards, batteries and tripods.We figured it would be best to use Archer’s equipment, since girls should be learning on the cameras that we have available to us at school.
What was once a crew of 8 shrunk down to 5, but I always had complete faith that we were going to make it work. With everything ready to go, I left school on Friday with the cameras and other equipment from our media space and prepared for our shoot on Sunday, November 5.
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.
Applying for the Center for Cultural Innovation’s Investing in Tomorrow Organizational Grant
On May 31, more than two months after attending my first Look What SHE Did! event, I received an email from Julie Hébert about applying for the Investing in Tomorrow Organizational Grant through the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI).
With the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, CCI created this grant program to support new arts leadership in California. They were looking to invest in art/culture projects that would help address issues such as intergenerational leadership, multicultural leadership, inclusion and equity. The projects were required to be authored and led by diverse and/or junior-level leaders that are part-time or full-time employees or in some other way formally affiliated with the organization.
When Julie found out about the opportunity to apply for the grant, she thought of me and the Archer shoot that we had begun to talk about. Our idea was to approach the grant from an intergenerational point of view, because we wanted the shoot to be a mentorship program. Girls would have the opportunity to be mentored by a director, cinematographer, producer, etc. and then take on that role themselves. We also wanted to shoot to serve as a template for other schools in the future.
Since the grant writer was required to work for the organization, I became a youth blogger for LWSD! and wrote my first blog back in May then I began to work on the grant. I wrote about the project’s goals to encourage intergenerational leadership, foster new, diverse young female leadership in media arts and allow girls to improve their video making skills while introducing them to a large network of professionals. In addition to working on the writing portion of the grant, I helped create the budget. After a lot of drafting and a few revisions, I was really happy with the final narrative.
A few months later, we found out that we did not receive the grant. I spent so much time working on it during my summer vacation, so I was initially a bit disappointed. However, I know that everything happens for a reason. I still gained valuable knowledge from this experience — not many 16 year olds can say they’ve written a grant before!
Nevertheless, we continued planning the shoot.
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.
As the News and Features editor of my school paper, I have interviewed countless classmates, teachers, administrators and even random strangers. I’ve always been a good listener, but I haven’t had a lot of experience being interviewed myself.
During Look What SHE Did!’s Ebell Theater shoot on August 13, I broke out of my comfort zone — I was interviewed about Dolores Huerta, Human Rights Activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers. I was extremely nervous for my interview, but in the end, I thought it went really well. During the interviews before mine, I noticed that they get better as they went on because the subject calmed down and became more comfortable. Initially, I was worried about not saying the right thing, but I soon realized that it was just like having a normal conversation. Plus, I think the candidness and lack of continuity are what make Look What SHE Did! videos so unique.
Aside from being interviewed, I also shadowed Courtney Graham and learned about what a producer does. My tasks included keeping us on schedule, charging camera batteries, doing the slate and backing up data. When we ran into difficulties, like noise coming from the busy street next to us, car alarms going off and the sun ruining our lighting, Courtney was there to help problem solve and continue on. She taught me so much, and at the end of the day, I jokingly told Courtney I was ready to take over her job. I also joked with her that being a producer means waiting for things to go awry so that you can fix them. What I said was so wrong, but funny and sort of true. I think of producers as creative problem solvers that are ready to tackle any situation and let everyone know that everything is going okay.
I loved being on set and finally being part of the magic that happens during a Look What SHE Did! video shoot. It was great that this shoot allowed me to experience being both in front of and behind the camera. I’m excited to apply what I learned during that shoot to LWSD!’s upcoming mentorship shoot with other girls who attend Archer!
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.