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The platform making sure girls have role models in the creative industries

Lily Riccio created Power of Girl​ to provide both herself and other girls inspiring women to look up to

By Lily Riccio

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a filmmaker. I’ve always been enchanted by movies and their ability to take you on a journey, escaping into a different world for a two hour length of time. I find it so interesting that stories told on film have the power to evoke strong emotions and decidedly change minds, and I wanted more than anything to be able to do the same.

So, a few years ago, when I came to the conclusion that this would be my career path, I began researching film directors. I expected to be filled with wonder and inspiration, and to feel enthusiasm for the adventure I was about to undertake. Unfortunately, I was met with the opposite. I instead felt overwhelming doubt and insecurity because the individuals who were on my computer screen looked nothing like me. There wasn’t a single woman.

All this occurred a few years ago and thankfully things have changed a bit. We now have Greta Gerwig who gave us the moving, honest, coming-of-age film that is ​Lady Bird,​ Lulu Wang who directed the emotional, intimate film called ​The Farewell,​ and several other female directors who’ve risen the ranks in this male-dominated field. But, this wasn’t the case when I so desperately needed them years prior.

At that time, when I was faced with a glowing screen of faces who made my dream seem unattainable, I fully recognised the power of identifiable role models. More than anything, I needed to see women like Greta and Lulu to know my dreams were valid and my stories deserved to be told. I never wanted another girl to feel this doubt and to be faced with a screen which seemed to justify these fears. So, I created ​Power of Girl​.

“More than anything, I needed to see women like Greta and Lulu to know my dreams were valid and my stories deserved to be told.“ – Lily Riccio

Power of Girl​ is an online platform which provides girls with inspiring role models in a variety of different career fields, including art, music, science, engineering, business, and athletics. Since its launch three years ago, I have interviewed more than 50 amazing women to bring their unique stories to others. These women range from award-winning photographers and ​New York Times​ best-selling illustrators, to Pulitzer-winning musicians, revolutionary scientists, Olympic athletes, and yes, even filmmakers! Girls can now log onto the site and browse their narratives and career advice.

While I do love interviewing every woman for the site, I particularly look forward to getting the opportunity to speak with artists. Although each of these women have been unique, they seem to all share an infectious passion to create in their own style.

I’ve spoken to Sophie Diao, head director of the infamous Google Doodles, Samantha Heligman, whose handmade ceramics have appeared in ​Madewell​ collections, and Jenn Collella, whose exceptional presence on the stages of Broadway has earned her Tony Award nominations. They all encourage young women to work hard, be open to edits and suggestions, and ultimately be true to themselves when pursuing their creative passions.

Carly Kuhn, whose minimalist artwork has graced the pages of ​Vogue & Elle ​and has been featured on the products of ​Glossier & Dior,​ reassured me and others my age, letting me know:

​“Everyone you look up to/idolise has ups and downs, feelings of insecurity, and is constantly figuring it all out... no one ever has it all together. Remember that. All those things make you human.” – Carly Kuhn

Power of Girl​ has exceeded my expectations and grown to be a remarkable collective of supportive women who have made an immense impact in all sorts of fields. It’s been such a fulfilling experience to be able to provide young girls with female role models so they don’t have to feel the way I did years ago.

Although I certainly have learned the value of personal accounts from established women, I’ve also learned the importance of trusting my own abilities. In an interview with film director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the first woman to solo direct a major Hollywood animated film, she told me, “​You can look up to others, and admire others, but trying to emulate or be just like someone else is not the best way to blossom. Start to trust that your own voice is exactly right.”​ These women have shown us the path to finding a voice, pursuing our passions, reaching for our dreams and defying expectations, since we cannot underestimate the power of girls!

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