SRU student dreams big with documentary film role

Maggie Kerry

Slippery Rock University senior Maggie Kerry serves as the “social media guru” for the documentary film, “Dream, Girl.” The film will be screened at the Smith Student Center Sept. 27.

August 22, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Nearly a century after suffragettes celebrated the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting the "weaker sex" the right to vote, the evolution of women's equality remains a work in progress.

While the movement has adapted over the decades to meet with contemporary controversies, the underlying mission has remained the same - to meet suppression and inequality with power and prowess. Today, the campaign manifests itself in multiple forms and introduces itself to young women in the most unique of ways.

Maggie Kerry

   KERRY

For Maggie Kerry, a senior Slippery Rock University interdisciplinary major, feminism has been a long journey filled with sifting through web articles, reading countless blogs and establishing dreams that were hidden under a shroud of darkness until a call for "lights, camera ... action!"

Kerry was first introduced to feminism as an adolescent when she began leafing through pamphlets and journals at a local bookstore. It was there that she stumbled upon the face of author and director Diablo Cody on a copy of "Bust Magazine," a feminist lifestyle publication "for women who want to get something off their chests." The magazine's content and Cody's message revolutionized Kerry's outlook and life.

Eight years later, Kerry, a senior from Butler, is now becoming one of the "women she always looked up to" as a pioneer of an online community and the social media guru for the documentary film, "Dream, Girl." The movie made its debut at the White House in late May as part of the White House Council on Women and Girls' Women. A couple of weeks later, more than 600 people attended a red carpet gala for "Dream, Girl" at the iconic Paris Theater in New York City.

Erin Bagwell and Komal Minhas outside the White House

      (From left) Producers Erin Bagwell and Komal Minhas outside
      the White House before a May 2016 screening of “Dream, Girl."

The documentary, a project born in 2014 by Erin Bagwell and Komal Minhas, shares the stories of strong, powerful and successful female entrepreneurs -- stories that aren't always highlighted in mainstream media - offering an inspiring look at what it takes to make it in the business world as a woman.

The film, which raised its funding through a Kickstarter campaign that generated more than $100,000 - nearly double the original goal - within a 30-day period, has quickly turned into a global phenomenon with more than 200 screening requests from 20 countries.

Kerry will bring the film to SRU's Smith Student Center Theatre September 27. According to Kerry, the campus screening will provide a public showcase for how she spent the last two years of her life, and who she is as a woman.

"The day I became a feminist in that bookstore, I also instantly hid that part of myself away," said Kerry. "I chose to keep that part of myself from family and friends. I felt lost knowing my views were different than a lot of the people I went to school with. But working for 'Dream, Girl' helped me find the empowerment that I kept hidden for such a long time."

For Kerry, an introvert living in a conservative county, finding a community that shared her views has not always been possible. After repressing her "outgoing" and "out-of-place" ideas for nearly two years, she decided to redirect her search for inclusion via the Internet. It was there that she stumbled upon Bagwell's blog, "Feminist Wednesday" which provided the spark for the documentary.

"The stories and the aesthetic of this storytelling community took a weight off my shoulders," said Kerry. "The articles written by other feminists made me feel incredibly supported and loved. I knew right then I wanted to be a part of it." 'Dream, Girl' has given me the community and sisterhood I have wanted my entire life."

Upon reaching out to Bagwell, who served as the documentary's producer and co-founded Dream, Girl LLC, a company with the mission to "celebrate the female economy through innovative storytelling, distribution, and marketing," Kerry began working pro bono for the organization as a social media guru.

In her role, Kerry is charged with engaging online audiences through up-to-date materials and dialogues; creating online promotional content; and continuing to grow an authentic community through personally tailored and practically marketed strategies.

It is a role that has allowed Kerry to not only realize her own dreams, but also help to instill others with their own.

After proving herself through a complementary trial period, Kerry became an official member of Bagwell's "Dream Team" in December 2014.

"Erin is an incredible, powerful woman who is changing everything," said Kerry. "She left her job and the security it provided to follow her dreams as a feminist and as a filmmaker. Komal and every other lady who has been involved in this sisterhood have invested themselves beyond every limitation. I am so proud to have been a part of it."

Working for "Dream, Girl" is a job Kerry envisions settling into for the long haul as she continues to make her passions a blunt and beautiful reality to the world.

"One of the entrepreneurs featured in the film, Mariama Camara, said that, 'Opportunity is like a door. You knock. If it doesn't open, you break it.' 'Dream, Girl' has given me the strength to break down every single door I come across until my dreams are no longer just dreams..

"A few years ago, I was only dreaming that I could be like these women I look up to. Today, right now, I can finally say that I am one of those inspirational women."

While "Dream, Girl" is an inherently feminist film made by women, for women, both Bagwell and Minhas also want men -- and everyone, for that matter -- to be able to see themselves in the female protagonists on screen.

"Obviously this is a film about female entrepreneurs, but this is a film about business," Bagwell told The Huffington Post. "This is a film about finding whatever that voice is, whatever that niche is, whatever's keeping you up at night and going for it. That story's universal."


MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 | mxz1016@sru.edu