Dreaming Big: It has been more than five decades since the then President, John F. Kennedy, signed the Equal Pay Act, which criminalized unequal pay scale of men and women in United States, who worked in the same place with a similar position of responsibility. Yet, the gender pay gap remains a hot topic across the US and the globe.
Five decades forward, the situation has slowly yet gradually changed for the better, with women accounting for more percentage in workplaces than ever before. Today, women are driving the next wave of entrepreneurship across the globe, and we seem to be on the path of closing the gender pay gap once and for all. But, that’s just one aspect of equality and we have so much more gaps to fulfill.
One such woman who is on a mission to reach the stage of equality where male and female are primary and there isn’t a scope of secondary is Erin Bagwell. First with a storytelling blog, “Feminist Wednesday” that uplifts readers through the gutsy tales of women looking to make their mark, and then with a documentary film, “Dream, Girl,” showcasing the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs, Erin is making her dream come true through her sheer courage and passion.
The beginning of everything
It all started when Erin worked at a dismal 9 to 5 job, where she was being sexually discriminated and harassed. Always wanted to become her own boss, Erin loved reading inspirational stories of women quitting their jobs and building empires from the stones thrown at them. She felt ambitious when she surrounded herself with these women entrepreneurs and pondered upon how she could become one such strong example of female entrepreneur. She also assumed that other women might feel the same and need the examples for them to lead such life. Taking this into mind, she put together a newsletter and an online blog where women could share their experiences, learn from each other, and uplift each other in the process. And this marked the beginning of Feminist Wednesday. “My favorite thing about Feminist Wednesday is that it’s an evolution. It started as a newsletter, morphed into a blog, and now is a weekly podcast called BeaverTalk where my co-host Diana Matthews and I give Hollywood unsolicited advice about feminism. You can listen to the podcast now on iTunes or where ever you listen to podcasts,” Erin shares.
The journey to Dream, Girl
After working on Feminist Wednesday as a side-hustle for a year, Erin knew she wanted to make women’s storytelling her full-time job. She quit her corporate job and freelanced for a while before figuring out her next move. “One day it just clicked! I got the idea to make a documentary about the inspiring female entrepreneurs who were sharing their stories on Feminist Wednesday. I put a Kickstarter campaign to fund the film, asked some of my entrepreneur friends to be in our trailer. I raised $104K in 30 days to produce Dream, Girl, that’s when I met Komal Minhas and our lives changed forever. Dedicated to amplifying the stories of women, Komal brought an unparalleled energy to our film,” Erin adds. She also believes that crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter gives independent filmmakers the ability to not only raise the money that they need but to have full creative control to make something truly unique.
Achievements speak for themselves
Dream, Girl screened at the White House in May 2016 as part of the United State of Women Summit and later screened at the iconic Paris Theater in New York City where the tickets were unsurprisingly sold out. Furthermore, Erin & Komal was named amongst one of Oprah’s SuperSoul100, a list featuring extraordinary individuals that live life intentionally, create great social impact, and bring inspiration to others. Her story has been also featured in TEDx, Vogue, Forbes, The Washington Post, and dozens of other publications. In 2017, Eris was selected to be part of the American Film Showcase, which is part of the U.S. Department of State in coordination with U.S. embassies and consulates. Through these program, American documentarians are sent on trips to different countries around the globe to engage with audiences. Through her work with the showcase, Erin has travelled to Tajikistan and Egypt to screen Dream, Girl and lead filmmaking workshops.
Best friend turned best partner
Komal Minhas is an Indian-Canadian woman bound to uplift the girls and women in this world. She does this in the only way she knows how: with her pen, her camera, her brain, and her team. After finishing her graduate studies in Social Innovation, Komal founded KoMedia – a digital consultancy that tells the women’s stories worldwide. Since the moment Komal met Erin in 2014, they have been inseparable friends. It was when Komal told Erin that she wanted to a part of Erin’s project that made her the producer of ‘Dream, Girl.’
Telling stories is the great way to change the narrative
Talking about women in general, Erin says, “I think we need to constantly be thinking and questioning what we know, hear, and are told about women. When men control the majority of the ads we see, news we hear, and how we are reflected in the media it’s easy to believe our place is secondary. I also think because of this stories about sisterhood are lost. We are gendered to think we have to compete and that there can only be one woman at the top. Telling our stories and supporting our sisters is a great way to change the narrative and put the power back in women’s hands.”
Constantly creating and working on new ideas
Going ahead, Erin wants to direct the script on which she is working on now. She is also going to continue to work on Feminist Wednesday and record her podcast BeaverTalk. Additionally, she is constantly creating and coming up with new TV and film ideas. One day she’d love to have a production company, where she can put them all her ideas in motion. Finally, she concludes the discussion with an astute advice to women, “You don’t need permission to follow your dreams. Stop waiting for someone to give it to you.”