Over the past 8 weeks it has been an honor to highlight to voices of #RealGirlLeaders in the Boston community. Today is no different. Today we bring you Jacarrea Garraway who is a 17 year old student at Boston Latin Academy. Jacarrea is a true leader advocating for more leadership and representation of women in film. This spring, Jacarrea will be putting her IGNITE Change plan into action with the support of Boston GLOW. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been obsessed with the entertainment industry for as long as I can remember. This past year, I have been apart of a film program where we write our own screenplays, work with real film equipment and edit our own projects in a computer lab. It's great- except for the fact that it didn't take long for me to notice that I am the only girl in the class. Every year the program often has a limited number of girls, but this year it was at an all time low. It is a bit awkward for me to participate in the conversations we have sometimes because all the topics are told from a male perspective and I feel as though my input would be ignored. I was inspired by this to do something that may give women and girls more representation in mainstream media.
As girls, the media is not always our best friend. For years it has degraded us, but every once in a while, we see a strong female character that reminds us how powerful girls really are and that usually happens because there are strong female influences working behind the scenes. From a young age on, we stare at our television sets and watch different representations of women, some who are in the popular crowd, others who are outcast and some who are just placed in a situation for male enjoyment but there is much more to these stories that could be included if there were more women crafting these shows and movies. When girls have big dreams of hollywood, not all of them solely desire to be the model/actress types, but there are those still in the shadows that actually want to be on set holding up the megaphone as a director, who want to be on their computers typing up the next great American screenplay that is bound to get Oscar buzz and there are even girls out there who want to be behind the scenes editing where all the magic happens- but many of them think that they won’t fit into those roles because it’s mostly men who have the most success in those areas. How many female directors, screenwriters and editors can you name off the top of your head without searching on google? Probably not many, and that is exactly why more women need to fulfil these positions. According to an NY Times article called ‘Lights, Camera, Take Action: On Many Fronts, Women are Fighting for Better Opportunity in Hollywood’ it states that, “ increasing numbers of people — if mostly women — are pushing back hard at the industry’s biases. And they’re pushing back publicly, a gutsy stance in an industry that runs on secrets, lies and fear.” In other words, there should be no more excuses as to why more women shouldn’t be busting their way into hollywood offices and getting the careers they so rightfully deserve.
Girls need to start seeing for themselves that they have the potential to excel in the entertainment business like men do; all they need is more exposure to the field. My proposal is to have workshops for girls at schools and/or community centers that would help them learn the fundamental basics of designing a film. I would like to call this project “Garraway Studios” which would be known as ‘a girl-powered film/media organization.’ The workshops will demonstrate how to begin the process of making a film by first developing and pitching the idea, creating a storyboard, being taught how to format a screenplay, learning how to correctly use film equipment, experimenting with cinematography and gaining some simple video editing skills. The final product will be posted on a youtube page created for the program. During this process the girls will learn to persevere and remain true to their artistic vision while also learning how to collaborate together when working on a common goal. In the beginning workshops, the girls will discuss topics pertaining to the entertainment industry that have potentially affected the way they look at themselves or women in general and then they will develop storylines that will enforce the messages and images they actually want to see on their screens.
Empowerment would be one of the main goals of the program. If more girls believed in themselves, then they would break more barriers. The workshops would be made simple for girls with varied experience in filmmaking. By the end of the workshops, all of them should be able to take charge on any set if they wanted to. They should realize that men are not the only ones who can control what the public sees. The workshop is directed towards getting the notion erased from young girls minds that they are not capable of making films as good as men because that’s not true at all! If these girls learn that lesson now, they will not be so easily intimidated by the male ego when they become grown women.
The budget will provide 12 girls the opportunity to participate in these workshops. They should be from different neighborhoods and come from different backgrounds in the Boston area. The workshop would be mentored by local women with expertise in working with film, television and communications. The workshops should also feature special guest who are currently making a name for themselves by being apart of big hollywood productions, owning their own film companies or writers who have had their scripts developed into actual independent movies, etc. These speakers will be an example to the girls on how to remain focused on their aspirations, learn how to cope with rejection and remain strong while learning which opportunities are the right to pursue and which ones wouldn’t be the best career choices. Plus, these speakers may be able to answer any other questions girls have about the industry that they would be otherwise unable to find out without being provided this as a resource.
This is such an important matter to me, not just as an aspiring entertainer, but as a girl myself because they are not many chances for us to prove how great we are like there should be. We have the take the initiative to go out there and find ways to get acquainted with people who are in the film industry and network to make connections that might get us to where we want to be without having to exploit ourselves. We have to learn how to define who we are and not let anyone else or even the media do that for us. It can be difficult to make it in an industry this competitive if you don’t feel any support from somewhere. Even if they don’t go on to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, my goal is for them to take what they learned from the workshops and be able to apply it anything they do in life. They may encounter a few tough roadblocks in their paths but I want them to keep moving forward until they reached the destination that they desire.