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It all started when Erin Bagwell launched Feminist Wednesday, a storytelling blog that uplifts readers through the gutsy tales of women looking to make their mark. Soon, she was self-funding a documentary to share their tales. Set to premiere in 2016, “Dream, Girl” profiles their journeys.
The Wink: How did you become interested in filmmaking?
Erin Bagwell: At my all-girls Catholic high school in Buffalo, New York, I was assigned a short film project. My brother had a video camera, and since I was “the girl with the gear,” I led the team. We wrote a script, filmed it, and I edited in my basement. As we screened the film for class and the lights dimmed, I was terrified and excited at the same time. The room felt electric. I had never created anything that elicited such an intense reaction, and I knew from then on that I wanted to chase that feeling for the rest of my life.
TW: How did your blog change your life?
EB: I started Feminist Wednesday in 2013 as a way to feel inspired while working a 9 to 5. I always wanted to be my own boss, and I loved hearing how other women quit their jobs and built businesses. Something unexpected happened when I surrounded myself with these trailblazers; I saw myself differently. I felt ambitious and thought about how my life would be different if I had grown up with strong examples of female entrepreneurs. Maybe I wouldn’t be so scared of taking risks, maybe I wouldn’t second-guess myself all the time.
TW: How did you become a filmmaker?
EB: Feminist Wednesday grew, and all of a sudden I wasn’t just a blogger anymore—I was a founder. I had a group of female entrepreneurs who encouraged me to keep growing and dreaming. Their support was transformative, and I worked up the courage to quit my job. I put my savings into hiring an all-female production crew for the video that launched our Kickstarter campaign. We raised over $104,000 to produce the documentary to showcase the stories of inspiring women.
TW: What is the goal of “Dream, Girl”?
EB: I want every girl to know the names of female entrepreneurs like Mariama Camara, Julie Sygiel and Joanne Wilson. I want them to know they don’t have to dim their light or hide their power—to know that it’s okay to be an ambitious, trailblazing woman. I want to inspire the next generation of leaders.
TW: What do you think is missing in today's feminist conversation?
EB: I’m over people thinking that feminism has to do with male-bashing. We live in a culture where women make 76 cents to every dollar a man makes, our healthcare and maternity leave policies are atrociously lacking, and a woman has never been President. The inequalities women face aren’t up for debate, whether or not you like the word “feminist." There is real work and change to be made, and instead of scrutinising the name of the movement, I would love to see mainstream media focus on the issues that need solving.