Leader Spotlight: Esther Pearl of Reel Stories

Q: Where do you live?

A. Oakland, California

Q: Tell us about your organization.

A. Reel Stories believes that when women and girls are better represented behind the scenes in the media, they will be better reflected on the screen. Reel Stories empowers young women with the skills to create their own media, to view current media critically and thoughtfully, and to aspire to leadership. At Reel Stories, young women learn that their stories and ideas have value and that their audience is waiting.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with other women looking to start an organization?

A. It's okay to be scared, but don't let that stop you. If we really want to see change in the world, then the world needs your vision.

Q: How can WorldWideWomen readers get involved in what you are doing?

A. Reel Stories needs mentors for our young women and ambassadors for our program. Can you help us find internships and job shadowing opportunities? We'd love to partner with other female-owned media organizations, so that young women can see the plethora of career options available to them. We would love to bring our media literacy curriculum to companies and community groups, so adults can see how they can support the young women in their lives to view current media more critically and thoughtfully and realize that they can leverage change.

Q: Who is the greatest female influence in your life?

A. My mother

Q: Please share with us something that you want other women around the world to hear.

A. It is still so common to see women missing the opportunities to collaborate instead of compete. We are always stronger together and even if there aren't perfect partnerships there can be great networking and colleague relationships that will be so necessary to keep you grounded and motivated, especially if you are a founder. I also try and remember that the whole system isn't set up for women, so it will be hard to work within it. If you don't have childcare or your children's school gets out at 3 your work hours may look different, but you can still get the work done and you don't need to fit into a system that was never made for us, anyhow.

Q: What do you feel is your greatest achievement?

A. In the past 5 years, I have grown this organization from just me and a group of dedicated volunteers that taught 30 girls how to make a film in one week to a staff of 4 and we will serve 300 girls in 2019. Over 100 films have been made at Reel Stories and many of those films have been accepted into film festivals all over the country. This year we also started a production company with a few of the alumnae from Reel Stories. These young women are getting paid to make short films for clients while they are still in college. In a day and age where women's voices are being silenced and erased I am very proud that I created an organization to amplify their stories.

Connect with Esther and Reel Stories through her Linkedin page!

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