There has never been a more exciting yet challenging time to be a working woman. The opportunities are abundant, but the 24/7 demands of the digital, real-time, working world can be completely overwhelming. I know it because just like you, I’m living it! My remarkable guests, each have their own story and path and are an inspiration to all of us. — Katie Kempner
And now, a few words from Jennifer Siebel Newsom, documentary filmmaker and Chief Executive Officer | Founder at The Representation Project.
What motivates you?
I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my first child — a girl — and everything came into focus. I looked around me and I was really frightened for her. I was enmeshed in an entertainment industry where Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan were all tabloid fodder, and I couldn’t imagine how my daughter would grow up to be emotionally healthy and fulfilled given our culture’s disregard, disrespect, and extreme sexualization of girls and women.
What’s your proudest work moment?
When I speak in public, someone will regularly come up to me and say, “your film changed my life.” And it’s all sorts of different people – men, women, high school students, parents, executives, white, black, brown. When I was at the Women’s March in January, a young girl told me Miss Representation was her awakening to feminism and there she was, marching with all of us! Film is a remarkable medium. It allows viewers to connect through the power of storytelling and invites them to examine complex issues on a personal level. We have seen this time and again with both our films,The Mask You Live In and Miss Representation.
What are three “power words” to live by?
I can’t deny it, I love Legally Blonde. Talk about smashing through stereotypes!
What’s one thing that makes you happy?
My children! Yes sometimes they drive me crazy, but a smile, or a laugh, or a cuddle from one of them is the ultimate antidote to a bad day. Also, chocolate.
How do you relax?
The world feels increasingly scary and chaotic, so I stay grounded by taking care of myself (sleep, healthy eating, and exercise), surrounding myself with people who care about the world beyond themselves, and committing my life to equality and justice work. Weekly yoga and hikes in nature, regular meals with my husband, family and old friends, and my work at The Representation Project all help me relax.
I’m super inspired by the individuals and communities around the world who are using their voices for equality and justice. And I am fed by interactions with committed and humble people across The Representation Project community: from our Global Youth Advisory Council members who organize against sexist dress codes, create boundary-pushing art, and speak out against stereotypes to our corporate partners who host screenings and workshops internally to re-examine their corporate culture, address unconscious bias, and redefine what an inclusive and diverse corporation looks like. These individuals and communities give me tremendous hope for the future. And thinking about their impact helps lower my blood pressure after a quick look at the news.
What inspires you?
Who is one woman you look up to?
One of my biggest role models is my dear friend and mentor Amy Ziering, producer of both The Invisible War and The Hunting Ground (I am an EP on both). She is a fearless filmmaker, a fierce advocate for social justice, and a generous soul. I am lucky to call her a friend.
What is one piece of advice that’s helped guide you through your life and/or career?
What does balance mean to you?
All parents and caregivers grapple with how to balance parenthood and a career. In the US, we still don’t have critical policies like paid parental leave and universal pre-K, which help parents all over the country better balance parenting and work.
Now more than ever, it’s important we make our voices heard by the 115th Congress and support policy changes in 2017. On a personal note, with four young children, I am still figuring out how to balance it all. I don’t always do a very good job of it and it’s pretty exhausting, but I am committed to being the best mom I can be and the most effective leader possible. It takes a village and I am grateful to the community of support I have around me. Sometimes things have to give and right now it’s my sleep and enough down time with my husband.