Posted Suzanna McCloskey on 4/18/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
This year, Girls on the Run will serve its one-millionth girl! We’re honoring this milestone by celebrating what makes each of us one in a million and by showcasing some one-in-a-million women who have made exceptional contributions to empowering girls and women.
Filmmakers and TV producers Sarah Moshman and Dana Michelle Cook met in 2007 when working on a national teen filmmaking program and soon realized they shared a passion for female empowerment. They pursued that passion and produced a documentary about Girls on the Run and won an Emmy Award for that project in 2013! The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things is their first feature-length documentary, which chronicles the journey of five female filmmakers as they drive across America to interview inspirational women from all walks of life. Their goal? To help change the way women are portrayed in the media, and to start a national conversation around empowerment in many forms. Sarah and Dana want to change the world by empowering people through storytelling.
Here’s what Sarah and Dana have to share about being one in a million.
Q: Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?
Sarah: For me, the greatest tool at my disposal has always been the camera. It gave me a voice before I really knew who I was and what I wanted to say to the world. When my parents gave me my first video camera in high school, it was like a whole new world opened to me. Suddenly I could ask questions of people I otherwise never would have had the courage to ask. And in my career the camera has allowed me to meet people and travel to places I never otherwise would have experienced. The camera is the common thread in my career as the thing I can point to that has given me the feeling of limitless potential.
Dana: I was encouraged by my parents at a very young age to just create my own unique path and follow my dreams, whatever they may be. Because of that, I had the confidence to try all kinds of things throughout my life and be my own person...whether it's traipsing to far off places on the other side of the globe by myself, or taking the road less traveled in my career as a documentary filmmaker, to silly things like playing ukelele and taking tango lessons in hopes of competing someday. It's this curiosity and craving for new experiences that I believe lends itself well to being a filmmaker...the more curious you are, the better story you can tell!
Q: Of the traits and achievements that help make you one-in-a-million, what stands out most to you?
Sarah: I am a realistic dreamer. My mind can envision some pretty grand dreams and ideas for my life and then I back that up with my practical and logical side. I tend to approach a new avenue with lots of research and knowledge from my peers before diving in to something. It’s served me well so far!
Dana: I think what makes me unique is my ability to find the silver lining in everything. I've always been an eternal optimist and like to think that my sunny disposition tends to bring a lightness to even the most difficult situation. The one thing I love most in life is making new connections in new settings and creating beautiful experiences. One of my favorite quotes right now is, "I'm in love with people I've never met and places I've never been," and that's so true! I can't wait for each day to see what beautiful surprises it will bring.
Q: Girls on the Run believes that big things are possible when you keep moving forward. Can you share an example from your own life?
Sarah: I love this question in a literal and figurative sense. In terms of running, inspired by Molly Barker and Girls on the Run I set a goal for myself to run 8 miles without stopping back in December, and I did it! It felt great, so I set a goal to run a total of 50 miles in January and I completed that goal as well. I respond well to setting a concrete goal, and it feels great to accomplish something that is important to me and my health. I hope to run a half-marathon sometime this year.
Professionally, our journey to complete The Empowerment Project was a long and difficult one but also incredibly fun and empowering too! Once we “crossed the finish line” and completed the film it was hard to fathom all the mountains we had to climb to get to that moment. And we keep pushing forward, getting the film out to as many young women around the world as can because we know how valuable the experience is of seeing it. Continuing to move forward is a very important part of any difficult journey and knowing that each day and each step is bringing you closer to your goal.
Dana: You know, the entire journey in creating The Empowerment Project was really a lesson in moving forward. There were days where Sarah and I felt great about the direction the project was headed and were over the moon about its progress, and other days where we felt so incredibly discouraged, that we wanted to curl up in bed, pull the sheets over our head and hide from the world. But we didn't. We committed to showing up every day, leaned on each other when things were difficult and believed all along the way that this documentary represented something that was so much bigger than the two of us. We never lost sight of how important this was to us, and even in the toughest of times when we wanted to quit, we kept saying "yes" to ourselves and in our belief in the destiny of this project. And now, looking at how far this project has come, all of that fight we had to get here makes the outcome that much sweeter.
Q: One of the many things our curriculum teaches girls is how to recognize and work through challenges in productive ways. What is a challenge you have faced (or still face)? How did/do you respond, and what have you learned from it?
Sarah: So many parts of life are challenging. There are personal, relationship and professional challenges we all face. I think the more confident and comfortable you are with yourself the better equipped you are to deal with challenges that come your way.
Dana: One of the biggest challenges I've been consciously working through this year is my fear of public speaking, which most people find hard to believe because I'm an extrovert by nature! It's hard to believe that it's now my full time job, as Sarah and I tour this country with the film and speak at schools, organizations and corporations. I never would have imagined I could stand up on stage in front of 2,000 people without fainting! But I've learned that by shifting my approach and realizing that it's a privilege and an honor to have the opportunity to deliver an important message of empowerment is a total gift.
Who do you think is One in a Million? Take the One in a Million Challenge today and help build a chain of affirmation! Post a photo of someone you think is One in a Million, make a donaton to Girls on the Run in their honor and ask them to accept the challenge to do the same.