How many times have any of us heard the advice, “Just be yourself”? From grade school, we have been told that the best way to find success is to simply tap into who we are and embrace it. Surely, then, we will achieve all of our goals, feel fulfilled, and be content. Maybe, but what happens when simply being yourself causes problems? When being true to who you are means that you must kick down cultural doors and work harder than others to live freely? Christina G. Rose, the CEO of MirrorWater Entertainment and an independent filmmaker, explores the answers to these questions in her inspiring series EMPOWERED: Women Shaping the Future, which follows six women as they struggle to pursue their dreams which is making its German Debut on Deutsche Welle on International Women’s Day.
“I focused on the difficult life journeys these women have taken to simply live their truths because today, women in general still face obstacles to their success,” Christina says. “I felt that by showing how much they persevere each day to smash through glass ceilings, more people will be motivated to challenge themselves to go after their own dreams.”
Some of the barriers have simply been cultural. “When I spoke with the female pilot who is the youngest woman to command the largest single-engine jet in the world, she confided that she has at times struggled to have the respect of her male peers,” Christina states. “She has shown exceptional courage in going through all of the training and getting her license so that she could take her place in the cockpit. She is incredible!”
In Puerto Rico, Christina spent a lot of time at a baseball field with a woman who became the first woman to play in the men’s baseball league and who also manages a girls’ softball team. “The kids clearly respected her,” she recalled, smiling at the memory. “She’s able to hit a baseball ball a lot further than some men, and her girls get so excited when she nails it. She has spent a lot of time using softball to teach them skills they can use away from the field.”
Christina will never forget the chaos and energy of the Formula 3 racetrack in Sepang, Malaysia, where she met a Hungarian female driver who reveled in keeping up with her male competitors. “That is definitely not a sport that sees a lot of female participants, so she has made a lot of waves. Yet, she is the first to jump into her car, and when the race starts, she goes just as fast as the men do, including her boyfriend David Schumacher. However, that’s not all. When she started off in touring cars before making the transition to formula cars, she crashed and flipped six times, yet she couldn’t wait to get back on the track. As a matter of fact, she placed second in the next race.”
In Germany, Christina filmed an episode on an astrophysicist who is working to be the first German woman to leave Earth and explore space. “She is completely dedicated to learning more about what lies beyond what we know of the universe,” Christina remembers. “There are incredible barriers that must be overcome, and we captured them as well as her backstory, making her dream even more poignant.”
In Alaska, Christina braved icy waters with the owner of a salmon fishing business. “I was impressed by how tough she is,” Christina shares. “Fishing day after day isn’t easy, especially when you live in such an isolated area and the sea is so rough. What makes her story noteworthy is that she chose to focus on the environmental and sustainable hook-and-line fishing method since Alaska is one of the last places on earth where wild salmon still thrive. She said she has learned a lot about herself and how important her work is to preserving our planet.”
In Finland and Australia, Christina followed a Chinese/New Zealand orchestra conductor who had music in her soul. “Artists and musicians have strong emotions, but Tianyi is so masterfully calm and focused that it’s not surprising that she leads orchestras in concert halls all around the world. However, since she left China and grew up in New Zealand, her search for her identity is what is on full display when she conducts Dvorjak’s Symphony 9 “From the New World”, and I think it is what many immigrants can relate to. She is so incredibly talented.”
The EMPOWERED series, Christina believes, ultimately reminds us that all over the world, people are overcoming unbelievable obstacles to simply be themselves and shape the future of our society. “The resistance they have faced, the potholes, the biases - we were able to capture all of it, and it made the series into what it is today: deeply thought-provoking.”
Christina knows about the challenges that await women in the professional world. After earning her MFA from the University of Southern California, she worked across the world at Arad Productions and Exclusive Media and in distribution at ZDF-Studios. Upon co-founding MirrorWater Entertainment LLC with her brother, she set out to make films that would make waves.
“We want to entertain, yes, but more than that, we want to educate and enlighten,” she says. “We want to give voice to the stories that go beyond the latest superhero movie and instead explore the successes, challenges, and even failures that people all over the world experience every day.”
In making EMPOWERED, Christina often heard that audiences would not want to see it. “I didn’t listen to them, though. I knew deep down that it would inspire anyone who has ever been told they’re not good enough, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”
With International Women’s Day only a few weeks away, the next showing of Empowered is fast approaching. “Save the date: March 8th 2023,” says Christina. “This is when you can get up close and personal with courageous women who will show you what it means to be true to yourself. You won’t be able to look at yourself and your own potential the same way ever again.”
Please note: Check your local Deutsche Welle listings for more information. The series will only be available in Germany.