AOL and PBS create video series MAKERS to highlight trailblazing women

An interview with three MAKERS: Bethany Hamilton, Cathy Guisewite and Diem Brown. Photo: PBS/AOL

WASHINGTON, August 17, 2012 — MAKERS is an unprecedented multi-platform video experience from AOL and PBS that honors and highlights trailblazing women. It is quite possibly the greatest group of women ever assembled.

As someone who creates dynamic video experiences for a living, I’m impressed with both the platform and the execution.

Together with Unilver’s new Simple they have launched a six-week nationwide search to find six extraordinary women who can be recognized as “Next MAKERS.”

An esteemed panel will judge submitted videos that, if they win, will appear next to Supreme Court Justices, Secretaries of State and CEOs, as well as athletes, activists and entertainers.

Next MAKERS will be awarded a $10,000 grant from Simple to continue to pursue their dreams and do great work in their communities. They will also fly to New York City for an intimate dinner in their honor.

Applicants are encouraged to submit an entry for themselves or a woman in their life who they feel deserves to be a MAKER on MAKERS.com/NextMAKERS or Facebook.com/SimpleSkincare. Entries can be submitted from 12:00pm ET August 16, 2012 to 12:00pm ET September 27, 2012.

Nominations may include an optional photo, including only the nominee; an optional video (one minute or less) stating who is being nominated and why; as well the answers to five questions about the nominee and any supplemental information the nominator wants to include about the nominee.

PBS will air a 3-part documentary series in early 2013 that tells the story of the women’s movement and how women have advanced in America over the past 50 years. Many of the women on MAKERS.com will also be featured in the PBS film series.

AOL is proud to bring technology, infrastructure, and storytelling to create a unique platform that commemorates exceptional American women and the ongoing impact they have on the world we live. MAKERS is connecting the AOL audience to exclusive video content and serves as a living archive of stories from the “Women Who Make America.”

There is also a Washington connection. The project founders and AOL are working with PBS station WETA Washington, D.C. to develop the project and bring it to the American public.

I was honored to interview three MAKERS to discuss influence and their advice for young girls. First is Bethany Hamilton. 

1. How do you feel about being a part of MAKERS?

Bethany Hamilton is the inspirational Christian athlete from Hawaii who courageously returned to surfing after surviving a shark attack in which she lost her left arm.

Bethany Hamilton is the inspirational Christian athlete from Hawaii who courageously returned to surfing after surviving a shark attack in which she lost her left arm.

Being placed among many amazing women of America who have helped shape history is humbling for me. I hope to learn from these women, and show the younger generation how to be a Maker! 

2. What does it mean to be influential? Who influenced you along the way?

To be influential is an honor. Knowing that I can have an impact on many other peoples’ lives, especially women, by what I say and do is unique. To encourage people to be positive and to live out their passions, and to overcome the challenges in their lives is invaluable. I intend to take every opportunity that I can and be the best influence that I can be! 

My mom has been a huge influence in my life as well as my youth leader and friend Sarah Hill, and my close friends as wellp>

3. Explain what motivated you, what obstacles existed and what helped you overcome them.

Throughout my life I’ve faced many obstacles from making good choices day to day, simply growing up, losing my arm to a shark and becoming a woman. 

After age 13, losing my arm to a shark attack, i could have lost all motivation to live, but instead I trusted that God could get me through it and knew that if he allowed this tragedy to happen then he had something great in plan for my life.

There have been hard times dealing with only one arm as a pro surfer, but I love surfing so much that the challenges themselves often motivate me to figure out a way to do what I need to do. 

Beyond surfing just growing into a woman, I had the same struggles that any young girl may face. I’m reminded and motivated by the love of Christ

Some of my motivation comes from my passion to be successful at whatever I’m doing. So my motivation comes from having faith in God and my appreciation for what He has done in my life.

4. What is your best piece of advice for young girls?

Just be your beautiful self! As young girls sometimes this world seems huge and we feel so insignificant. We are sometimes fed lies that cause us to have negative thoughts toward our self-confidence and body image. It can be a struggle to believe we can accomplish anything, especially with our odd culture. I always try to encourage girls to be confident in themselves and to enjoy being uniquely you

Find out what it is that you love to do, do it well, and let that joy overflow to everyone around you. Surround yourself with people that will uplift you and help you reach your dreams! 

Cathy Guisewite is the creator and cartoonist behind the long-running nationally syndicated comic strip “Cathy,” one of the first mainstream comics created by a woman. Appearing for the first time in 1976, the strip ran for 34 years, chronicling and finding humor in the title character’s eternal struggles with weight, love, work, and her loving but overly involved mother.

Cathy Guisewite

Cathy Guisewite

For Guisewite, it channeled the obsessions and conflicts of an everyday American woman caught between society’s traditional expectations and new feminist ideals.

1. How do you feel about being a part of MAKERS?

The day I emailed my mother the link to MAKERS.com, and then sat back knowing what she’d see when she opened it on her end across the country, was one of the proudest of my life. I know that I got to have a voice with my writing that Mom - and many women of her generation - couldn’t have dreamed of. I had a career because of how Mom cheered me on. I’m as thrilled for the honor it is for my mother to have me be a part of Makers as I am for the honor it is for me.

2. What does it mean to be influential? Who influenced you along the way?

In my world, being influential means reassuring women to not just crawl back under the covers on the days they can’t get their “dress for success” outfits zipped. I know my comic strip has helped a lot of women feel they aren’t alone, especially when the fabulous new role models for women have made it seem that so many other women have it so much more together. I think I helped give women hope, helped them laugh at the little things so they could get on with the bigger things.

I was influenced by anyone who embraced the incredible new world of possibilities for women and still had a sense of humor left by 2:00pm.

3. Explain what motivated you, what obstacles existed and what helped you overcome them.

A big motivation to succeed was to get back at boys who had ignored me. I started my comic strip because of my mom’s encouragement, but the drive to really do well, to be completely financially independent, came a lot from wanting revenge.

One main obstacle was that my job was to draw a comic strip 365 days a year and I didn’t know how to draw. Another was that when my strip began, there were no other female voices on the comic pages, there was huge tension between men and women, and virtually all the newspaper editors, who chose which strips were published, were men. I overcame the drawing obstacle by working really, really hard. The other obstacle was overcome by having massive, unwavering support from the company that syndicated my work - Universal Press Syndicate.

4. What is your best piece of advice for young girls?

The things that make you different are the things that make you special. Believe what your mom says about you. You can do anything.

Diem Brown’s battle with ovarian cancer was caught on camera while she was a cast member on MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat. Through this experience, she became a role model for strength and perseverance. Diem is now the Founder of the non-profit, MedGift, which is inspired by her experiences as a patient. The organization is the first medical gift registry and is working to change the way the public views health and charity.

Diem Brown

Diem Brown

1. How do you feel about being a part of MAKERS? 

I feel so humbled to be a part of MAKERS especially after looking at the accomplishments of the various women on makers they all excel in their field above and beyond all expectations.

2. What does it mean to be influential? Who influenced you along the way?

Influential means making a difference, having a voice and making no excuses for your opinions. Katie Couric and Suzanne Sawyer were my biggest influencers growing up along with Barbara Walters. Any women who trail blazed a path makes me inspired.

3. Explain what motivated you, what obstacles existed and what helped you overcome them. 

I always knew the profession I wanted to achieve was journalism. At first I thought my love of entertainment journalism was my gift, but after not one but two bouts with ovarian cancer, I have realized God puts tests in front of you to make you stronger, better people.

God puts hurdles that to some seem daunting but after jamming with the band, you become immune to the disease but learn to appreciate all that’s involved in beating it. 

It’s not enough to join anymore. Making a difference is easy, but it requires the spirit of the fearless, and if you keep your sights on the stars, the lowest place you can land is the moon.

4. What is your best piece of advice for young girls?

My neat advice for young girls is to be aware that whatever is posted on your Facebook wall is forever plastered on the walls. It’s great having people accept you. But by knowing those around you are being judged causes a great sense of emergency.

Jeff Barrett is the Co-Founder of Status Creative, 2011 PRNewswire Award Winner for “Best Use of Video In Social Media” and once stayed at Holiday Inn Express.


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Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has previously written for Mashable and The Detroit Free Press. 

 

 

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