Last Sunday, my first film won an Academy Award. I poured my heart and soul into this movie. I sacrificed everything for it. I changed my entire life to be a part of it. It’s a movie that has changed perspectives and will continue to do so for generations.
It talks about prejudice, bias, and bullying. It has opened my eyes, my heart, and my mind to struggles that people face in this world. It challenged me not just on a professional level but also in a way that made me consider and examine my beliefs. It made me braver and stronger not just because my entire life changed for this film but because of the content alone.
Although there were many incredible films this year that showed different people’s journeys and stories, ones that open new worlds to its viewers, the film I’m talking about is Zootopia. That’s right, an animated kids movie.
While working on this film, I discovered that at Disney, we do thousands of hours of research on everything we touch on in our films to get them absolutely right. One of the films we watched in our research was The Mask You Live In. This is a documentary that talks about the effect that society has on boys and men. I always hear about the female side of this narrative so this film in particular forever changed my views. We watched these documentaries, we read these stories, we talked to people and learned about their journeys.
It is through this research and these discussions that the world started to not look so black and white anymore. It is because of Zootopia that I gained a voice.
I have never had a problem with speaking my mind or having an opinion but I’ve learned there is a constructive way to do this. But whichever way you do it, it needs to be done. Your voice needs to be heard. You are important. What you have to say is important. Your story is important.
This year, I got the opportunity to let my voice be heard at the Woman’s March LA. It’s been about a month or so but I wanted to give it a beat before writing this so it wasn’t drowned out in the politically over saturated dialogue.
I was nervous for the march. I didn’t know what to expect. When I’ve read about or seen protests, they are usually violent, tense, and overall filled with bad energy. They have angry people with a lot to say. I wasn’t sure how this was going to pan out but I knew it was important that I go. That I made sure my voice was heard.
After the election, I felt like my vote didn’t matter. I know that’s not true but with the popular vote swinging the other direction and it not making a difference, I felt like I didn’t count. I felt like this women’s march was my second chance at being heard.
Luckily, I have a lot of friends that feel the same. So we gathered together to ride the metro into downtown (a first for many of us – public transportation in LA, what?!) to march alongside each other. To say, I support you and I know you support me. I hear you and I’m here for you.
From the moment we got downtown, it felt positive. There was no violence. There wasn’t negativity. There was support and love.
This was a day about each other. This was a day that even though the person we voted for wasn’t elected, we weren’t going to go unnoticed or unheard. Regardless of our new president’s agenda, we were going to keep fighting for our rights and for the rights of others.
It wasn’t just about women’s rights but it was about human rights. It was about LGBTQ rights. It was about immigrant rights. It was about defending our country from anyone who threatens to strip it of the values that makes it so incredible. He may say let’s “make America great again!” but on that day, I looked around and thought “it already looks pretty great”. There were men, women, and children walking beside me.
There was a chant in particular that stuck with me. The women would say, “my body, my choice” and then men would echo “her body, her choice”. To have the support of men around me, knowing that as women we are not alone was incredible.
There were no arrests made and it was the biggest crowd downtown Los Angeles has ever seen. It was peaceful, it was empowering, and frankly, it was one of the best days of my life. I have never felt more proud of myself, my friends, and my community.
With the speeches of celebrities, performances that the entire crowd swayed to, and stories that moved us all, I felt heard and I felt hope. I felt like we’re all in this together.
Using your voice doesn’t have to be violent. It doesn’t have to be out of hate. It can be out of a place of love, out of a place of hope.
Keep yourself informed, call your representatives, march in these marches, love on yourself and on others. Kindness is everything. Hope is in our future. And love is all around us if we have the courage to feel it.