Girl Rising Exclusive

  • For the Sierra Leone chapter, we shot 30,000 still photos and combined them with thousands of hand-drawn illustrations to give this piece its unique look. Mariama speaks English well and was fascinated; we had many conversations about the hybrid live-action and animation filming technique used in her segment.

  • Wadley had a lot of fun playing herself in Girl Rising, and we had a great time with her. Believe it or not, although she has lived her whole life on an island, Wadley had never been to the beach. I'll never forget bringing her there - and seeing that trademark smile as she danced in the waves.

  • We got to experience Suma's sense of humor as she and the other young women in our Nepal chapter experimented with the bicycles we used in the shoot. Some of them had never ridden bikes before. Suma had, but not one with three speeds. There were quite a few comical moments - and lots of laughter - as they got the hang of it.

  • We asked every young woman we interviewed in Egypt what she wanted to be when she grew up. When Yasmin answered, "a superhero," we knew we found our girl. Her imagination floored us - and so did her bravery. In a country where so many violent crimes against women and girls go unreported, I'm still awestruck that Yasmin and her mother had the rare and admirable courage to come forth.

  • Azmera makes lifting that large water jug look easy. But after she had to carry it while we shot take after take, she finally complained about its weight. I jokingly offered to trade the jug for my heavy sound equipment. Was I in for a surprise - the water Azmera carried effortlessly weighed more than the gear I struggled with in the Ethiopian heat.

  • Senna and her family came down the mountain from La Rinconada to shoot some of the scenes from Girl Rising. They stayed at our hotel, where Senna and her brothers had a wonderful time. They had never seen elevators before - or had hot showers. They played racing games up and down the stairs and elevators for hours, laughing all the while.

  • Each day after filming, we took Mariama out for ice cream, where she would choose a large container. I knew she didn't have refrigeration at home, and said, "You can't possibly eat all that. How will you keep it from melting?" I got my answer when Mariama's friends appeared every day, right on schedule. They made that ice cream disappear before a melted drop hit the ground.

  • Amina is fearless. You noticed that we never showed her face in Girl Rising - but that was our decision, not hers. Amina was the bravest girl we ever met. She was ready to show herself to the world, even though she knew it could be dangerous. We were worried about protecting her, so made the decision not to disclose her identity... but I'll never forget how willing she was to proudly reveal her true self.