The public spotlight, when you think about it, is really pretty small, and it often feels like everyone in the world is pushing and shoving each other to claim their moment in it. Those who manage to get the public’s attention are often those who dazzle with their beauty, intelligence, or innovations, perhaps deservedly so. However, at the same time, there are countless other people around the globe who are breaking barriers, pushing limits, and furthering causes, far from the attention of reporters and without accolades. Christina G. Rose, the CEO of MirrorWater Entertainment and an independent filmmaker, has dedicated the last few years to finding these individuals, and in EMPOWERED: Women Shaping the Future, she brings us six women who are quietly shattering glass roofs, ceilings, stairwells, and floors as they change themselves and their communities.
“I focused on these remarkable women because even though they all came from such different cultures, I believed audiences could relate to them and be inspired by their stories,” Christina says. “The female pilot from India is an excellent example. Many of us have flown on airplanes, so we can already appreciate what a tremendous achievement it is to be able to command a Boeing 777. Then you add in the reality that she is the youngest woman to command the largest single engine jet in the world even though she comes from a conservative culture, and you have an amazing story.”
In filming the series, it was not enough to simply focus on each woman’s accomplishment. “I wanted to give viewers a strong sense of the difficulties she experienced every day, the hurdles that she had to overcome to be successful, and the lessons she learned along the way,” Christina explains. “I wanted the story behind the story. That’s what made the episode about the young woman from Alaska so remarkable. She wasn’t just someone who had a salmon fishing business – she chose to focus on the environmental and sustainable hook-and-line fishing method since Alaska is one of the last places on Earth where wild salmon still thrive.”
Christina reveals that one quality she was looking for in her subjects was vision. “I was fascinated when I met the German astrophysicist who was determined to be the first German woman to fly into space. She wasn’t content with keeping her feet on the ground – she wanted to leave Earth’s atmosphere and explore the stars and perhaps even other planets in our galaxy. She believed that there is more waiting for humanity beyond our own planet, and she’s putting her heart and soul into making it happen.”
Women the world over, Christina says, often face great odds as they enter professions typically seen as being for men only. “In Sepang, Malaysia, I met a young Hungarian woman who races as a Formula 3 race car driver. I watched her as she got into her car – she was as focused, determined, and calm as any of the other racers, and she was more than ready to go at breakneck speed around the track with her male peers. I think many of them respected her for it, including her boyfriend, David Schumacher.”
By pushing past cultural limits placed upon them by society, all of the women gained fascinating insights into themselves and others. “I had the chance to talk a lot with the Puerto Rican woman who could hit a baseball further and better than most men her age,” Christina recalls. “She said that while she was secretly nervous the first time she stepped onto the field to become the first woman to play in the men’s baseball league, once she slammed the ball into the outfield, she realized that the limits placed on female athletes are either arbitrary or self-imposed. There was no reason she couldn’t hit the ball just as well as a man, so she did it.”
The Chinese/New Zealand orchestra conductor in the series would agree, Christina thinks. “She travels the world, sharing her love of the complexity and beauty of music while being on top of her game. She has an incredible gift and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, yet for a time, she was hesitant about letting out her passion. Instead of ignoring her fear, she embraced it. Once she gave herself permission to simply be herself, her fire came out, and the world could enjoy music in a completely new way.”
The EMPOWERED series, Christina states, ultimately reminds us that all over the world, people are overcoming unbelievable obstacles to simply be themselves and shape the future of our society. “The resistance they have faced, the potholes, the biases – we were able to capture all of it, and it made the series into what it is today: deeply thought-provoking.”
Christina knows about the challenges that await women in the professional world. After earning her MFA from the University of Southern California, she worked across the world at Arad Productions and Exclusive Media and in distribution at ZDF-Enterprises. Upon co-founding MirrorWater Entertainment LLC with her brother, she set out to make films that would make waves.
“We want to entertain, yes, but more than that, we want to educate and enlighten,” she says. “We want to give voice to the stories that go beyond the latest superhero movie and instead explore the successes, challenges, and even failures that people all over the world experience every day.”
In making EMPOWERED, Christina often heard that audiences would not want to see it. “I didn’t listen, though. I knew deep down that it would inspire anyone who has ever been told they’re not good enough, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”
The series’ next showing is scheduled for March 2022 for International Women’s Day. “It will be the perfect time to present it,” Christina believes. “It will celebrate women who are of all backgrounds, races, and beliefs and who are daring to not sit on the sidelines. They are ignoring the memo that said they need not apply and are instead doing extraordinary things. But, if you cannot wait until March, you can preview the series now until the end of the year on the MirrorWater Entertainment website.”