Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
We’ve all heard the phrase “you can’t be what you can’t see” more times than we can count — and have watched it play out in a million different ways. It’s why little girls don’t always envision themselves growing up to be engineers or doctors or filmmakers: because the people they so often see in those roles are men. It’s why they stop dreaming of doing big things: because they can’t imagine themselves changing the world.
Last summer, Disney set out to help change this narrative by teaming up with 19 female photographers from 15 different countries as part of the #DreamBigPrincess photo campaign. Their mission? To highlight the stories of real girls around the world who are chasing their dreams and changing their communities, in big ways and small. The resulting photos were not only stunning, but also helped make a difference for girls everywhere. In just five short days, the photos were liked and shared more than 1 million times on social media, which Disney then matched with a $1 million donation to Girl Up, an initiative of the U.N. Foundation.
This year, Disney and Girl Up are back at it again with a new global project that aims to benefit young female filmmakers and inspire little girls to see themselves in industries they may not have considered before. As part of the #DreamBigPrincess video series, young filmmakers will interview “trailblazing” women from all over the world who work in a variety of professions. The hope is that by highlighting their success stories, little girls can truly see just how many possibilities lie before them.
According to Jennifer Lee, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and the writer/director behind Frozen, the initiative aims to “empower the next generation of female storytellers” like never before.
“Using the journeys of characters like Anna, Elsa, and Moana to inspire kids to dream big is at the very heart of what all of us at Disney do,” Lee shared in a press release for the initiative. “The #DreamBigPrincess series is the perfect extension of that vision, providing a powerful platform for the next generation of aspiring filmmakers to create content about the women who have inspired them.”
In doing so, 21 young women from 13 different countries will be given the tools they need to produce and direct their very own digital shorts, which will debut on social platforms this fall. To support them even further, Disney will once again donate US $1 for every like or share of a video or photo with the tag #DreamBigPrincess on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter from October 10 through November 20, 2018 — up to $1 million.
Make no mistake: Those dollars can go far.
“The resources provided by Disney to empower girls and help them learn about the importance of storytelling will give them the confidence they need to achieve their own goals and advocate for others,” shared Girl Up Co-Executive Director, Melissa Kilby. “Last year’s donation from Disney has already allowed us to extend the network of Girl Up Clubs outside the US by more than 50 percent, representing a huge opportunity for thousands of girls to gain the leadership skills that will help achieve future goals.”
Plans for the project were unveiled today in Washington D.C. at the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Leadership Summit, where all 21 aspiring filmmakers came together to attend a workshop to kickstart their creative process. They were also handed the tools needed to create each of their films, including an iPhone X and a MacBook Pro outfitted with state-of-the-art editing software. (Pretty cool, huh?) They’ll also get hands-on training from Apple tech experts, mentoring sessions with female-led production company Summerjax, and creative insight from Disney storytelling veterans in the months ahead.
“Each young #DreamBigPrincess director brings her own unique perspective and experience, but what they all share is a passion for storytelling and making a difference in the world,” said Zenia Mucha, Senior Executive Vice President, Communications, The Walt Disney Company. “Our goal is to offer them the right mix of practical skills and creative inspiration to bring their vision to life.”
If this year’s initiative is anything like last year’s, then we can’t wait to see what these girls create. Here’s hoping this project reminds girls everywhere that the sky’s the limit, and that it raises awareness that encouraging our girls and our boys to dream big should always be a priority.