Currently viewing the category: "Kamala’s Journal"

So excited- so grateful

I’m updating this Day One from the set of The Mentalist where I’m getting ready to shoot an exciting scene — I’m not allowed to tell you about it because I am a HUGE spoiler on the show… :)

What I can say is that I am SO grateful to the beautiful backers who have already stepped up including angel Gina who stepped up with a fifteen hundred dollar pledge! Thank YOU!
DAY 1

And to Paul Dektor- my first backer who has stood beside me for the past four years with support, friendship and help from his family’s top commercial production company- Dektor Film. Paul, Rene, Faith and Leslie have been there all along and I love and thank them profusely. The footage you see of me in the trailer was generously shot at Dektor Film by Paul.

And for backer number 2- my muse, my role model, my soul sister Zoe Nicholson who has given her life to social justice and women’s rights- fasting for over thirty days for ERA back in the day- still out there every day fighting the good fight, talking to kids and putting every ounce of her being on the line. I love you Zoe- thank you for educating and inspiring me.

Here are a couple of shots-me and Denise, the make-up artist, in the hair/Makeup trailer and me as the Wiman in Black…. Oooo– scary!
TheMentalistMakeUpTrailerTheMentalistKamLadyInBlack

 

I’m sorry that I haven’t been keeping this blog up – it’s hard to find a moment with everything that’s been going on!

Since I wrote last I have been doing some speaking about women’s rights: on March 12th I gave a speech about the need for ERA at the Woman of the Year lunch given by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women…

Kamala, Liz and Cecilia Bogran from Univision

…and on March 10th I joined Lindsey Horvath, President of Hollywood NOW, on a panel about the state of hospitality workers in Los Angeles, most of whom are women of color: Women Pave the Way to Equality in the Tourism Industry.

Aymeric Montouchet, a brilliant cinematographer I was introduced to by Paul Dektor, has been shooting footage for us: first at Santa Monica College in the classroom of Professor Melanie Klein where we are piloting a class about women’s equality and the need for ERA. It will soon have an entire dedicated portion of this website; the students are doing research and shooting video, blogging and developing curriculum. It’s pretty impressive.

I’ve also been working with Gini Sikes on finishing the script adaptation of Helen Benedict’s powerful novel, Sand Queen and my short film, “Ese Beso” won the Boyle Heights Latina Film Festival Audience Award on March 4th!

All of this while in pre-production on the documentary film about the state of women in America today. Which leads me to the title of this post: pre-production on the DC shoot. Gini, Jennifer and I fly out to DC on Tuesday to prep for Thursday’s shoot where we will be interviewing Congresswoman Maloney, Senator Menendez as well as covering the press conference and panel discussion about the 40th Anniversary of the ERA’s passage in Congress in 1972.

 

Since I came back from San Francisco I have identified ten cities that are potential stops on the March tour:

New Orleans (9th Ward), Louisisana; Seminole, Florida; Missoula, Montana; San Francisco, California; District of Columbia, Washington; New York City, New York; Peoria, Illinois; Ennis, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Utah, Salt Lake City; Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts.

Tomorrow I go into POP in Santa Monica to finish up the FAQ’s. I am deeply indebted to Dektor Film, Company 3, Beast LA, and POP Sound; without whom these PSAs could not exist.

Once voiceover re-recording and sound mixing are complete (I worked on color correction with Shawn at Company 3 yesterday), the videos should be final. That means that Joel can post the video FAQ’s and theoretically make the site live. I still have to go over the site page by page and vet the text and video before giving the password out but we are finally getting close (!)

I spent this evening going over the VoiceOver lines that need to be re-recorded in the morning (due to my horribly nasal voice when I recorded them at home). Have to leave at 8am to go pick up the drive before going to POP. We will also need to mix the sound with the great score that Jason Chang created for us (we had been working with a temp track by Florence and the Machine and Spencer found us the wonderful Jason) so we may be there until noon. Then I will speak with Paul and let him know that I need a camera and sound on Feb 21st for the first class at Santa Monica College, the women’s studies Practicum taught by the fantastic Melanie Klein. We will have between 30 and 44 students working for us for the next semester researching, collecting video, developing curriculum and working on social media campaigning.

As I think about the shape of the film, I’d like to address a host of issues that, at first glance may seem unconnected, yet ultimately all adversely and unfairly affect women. It would be excellent to expose the systemic and pervasive lack of parity and fairness in a variety of industries, geographical areas and socio-economic environments in America today — as well as highlighting unlikely heroines throughout the nation.

The film should make the argument that the inherent cross cultural bias against women has real, measurable, tangible effects on their lives and is a direct violation of her civil and human rights. From domestic violence to the gender pay gap. From a lack of maternal leave and childcare provisions to paying 47% more for healthcare. From an inexplicable and inexorable 30% disparity between the assessed economic value of the male and the female in American society to the media images and sexualization of women and the pervasive problem of widespread rape. Across the board and from a multitude of angles, the American woman is under attack. The film should prove the need for full federal equality under the law and the necessity of the ERA as the inarguable first step towards justice for women.

The film will make very clear that the American woman is presently oppressed but the beauty is that it will also demonstrate how she doesn’t have to remain that way. The film will highlight individuals, groups, organizations and communities that are working to fight this situation and seek to connect them; exposing the divisions as arbitrary. The collective power of the American woman, should it be harnessed, organized and deployed in the service of simple and commonsense fairness will prevail. Young women and men will be galvanized by their new knowledge and unwilling to accept the status quo. It really is simply a matter of educating the public on the matter. Hopefully the film will start the ball rolling in that direction.

 

The meeting at Citizen Group was scheduled for 3 o’clock Friday afternoon which allowed me and Mom a leisurely morning and breakfast.  We stayed at the Chancellor Hotel, right off the main square in downtown San Francisco.  Joel and I had stayed there the last time we came to meet with Robin Raj and his team.

Awning & Mom

The Chancellor Hotel - Awning & Mom

Joel on Our Last Visit Up

December 15th, 2011 - Joel on Our Last Visit Up

View from Our Room

Last Visit - View from Our Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Robin through my good friend Paul Dektor, a director/actor/producer whose family company Dektor Film (AKA Cartel) has made some of the most consistently excellent commercials and PSAs of our time; his father Leslie Dektor is a multiple award-winning director as well and the entire family is very special, both artistically and spiritually.  Paul and Robin had worked together on Amnesty International’s campaigns and they both were committed to social justice and making media that matters.  In fact, Robin, who had a mile long list of corporate clients, had decided to create an advertising agency where he could not only apply his brilliance in messaging/marketing/advertising but also his values and purpose – this new agency is Citizen Group.

I was deeply honored that Robin had agreed to guide the E.R.A. Education Project, I had met with him twice before; once in Los Angeles in November and once on December 15th in San Francisco.  The last time we met, I was introduced to the startlingly bright Molly Tsongas, Citizen Group’s Engagement Strategist, who, while clearly on board in terms of the mission of the women’s equality project, was ruthless in her dissection of our areas of weakness: lack of organization, strategy and clear messaging.  I had returned to L.A. with an armful of material to study and a slightly panicked sense that maybe the task was greater than my abilities.

I ordered a few textbooks including Sex, Gender and The Politics of ERA by Donald G. Mathews and Jane Sherron De Hart (on the recommendation of Susan Rose, an extremely well-educated and active member of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee and early supporter of E.R.A. Education Project) and Why We Lost the E.R.A. by Jane J. Mansbridge.  I poured over the planning guide and manual Discovering The Activation Point that Molly had printed out for me.

Gini (Sikes – my writing partner), Jennifer (Geeslin – ERA Education Project intern), Mom and I had begun to brainstorm strategy, getting as far as the first 3 Steps of the planning guide which included: Confirming A Campaign is Possible; Setting a Clear Measurable Goal that is Achievable; and Charting Your Course. Now we needed help.  We had reached the limit of what we all fully understood and needed to know whether we were on the right track.  Orchestrating a campaign like this clearly was going to take a lot more than the four of us sitting in my office coming up with ideas for funny, informative PSAs.  Or even producing said PSA’s.  It was going to take some crazy support and a lot of knowledge and people power that we didn’t yet have.

So when we sat down to that meeting at 3pm on Friday afternoon, I was frankly concerned. I knew I wanted to do this; I knew it had (and has) to be done – we need women’s full equality in America.  But I was losing faith in knowing how best to get it done.  I felt lost.  Completely out of my depth.

The meeting started with me showing Robin and Molly the fruits of our intense labor since the last meeting: Gini, Jen and I had slaved over the FAQ scripts and the web copy. We had only received the final cuts of the video FAQ’s from Spencer Seibert at Beast the day before, and Joel had been up for two days straight building the website.  The urgency was due to the fact that Robin and I had discussed the possibility of partnering with Rock the Vote and we needed something to show them, to give them a hint of what we wanted to do.  Robin was pleased with what we had accomplished but as the meeting went on, and mom tried to get the next steps nailed down I felt more and more despairing that I would be able to pull everything off with the resources I had.

Suddenly Molly, who had been staring at me as I spoke about my concerns, came up with a Big Idea.  You want to go she said.  I can see that.  You want to get going – you’ve got the message, you’ve got the passion. I nodded. Why don’t you just start going, across America, talking to women about these issues, marching and  finding out the stories of real women and how inequity affects them, interviewing them, and covering your journey with a film crew.  You could raise awareness and make a movie that can broaden that message. I thought about it. You know it’s women’s history month in March, I said. March 8th is the International Day of Woman. And the 22nd of March is the 40th Anniversary of the passage of E.R.A. in Congress.  We all looked at each other.  There wasn’t much time but we all realized: THAT is an excellent idea.  Let’s do THAT.

So THAT IS THE PLAN.

 

Mom at breakfast - 18 Swedish Pancakes!

Sears Fine Foods - Mom at breakfast - 18 Swedish Pancakes!

Home Working On Website

Joel - Home Working On Website

Mom Working

Still in San Francisco - Mom Working

Let's Go To Sunshine City - back to L.A.

Little Girl Wears Votes for Women T-Shirt! - Let

 

We arrived in San Francisco to attend the California reception for the 2012 21 Leaders of the 21st Century held at the  Women Donors Network offices on Commercial Street, which was really more like an alley.  The taxi driver had no idea where he was going and kept asking Mom and me for directions.  He finally turned off the meter when it was clear he was going in circles. Later, when we left the building with Berkeley Professor Karen Jacobs and were searching for a cab, she scoffed– apparently our hotel was about four blocks away.  She was going to have to walk farther to catch the BART back to Berkeley.

That night, Women’s eNews Editor in Chief, Rita Henley Jensen, introduced us to a battery of incredible women and their work on behalf of women and girls worldwide. The modest offices where the reception was held belied the rich and deep palette of real power in the room :

  • Powerhouse Elizabeth Colton and her beautiful, gregarious Executive Director Clare Winterton, who run The International Museum of Women, providing tools for expression and spark engagement on behalf of global women’s issues through multimedia online exhibitions and temporary physical events and installations;
  •  Stunning and calm Deborah Santana whose pro-active yet balanced approach is exemplified in her Do A Little Foundation focused on women’s health, education and happiness;
  • The always impressive Cristi Hegranes whose kick-ass Global Press Institute trained the first wave of GlobalGirl Media trainers back in 2009 before we began the Kick It Up! Project between Soweto, South Africa and East Los Angeles;
  • Trailblazer Margarita Quihuis whose work as director of the Women’s Technology Cluster led to 67M in venture capital and technology funding and who is now working at Stanford University directing projects like the Peace Innovation Lab  where they are exploring the potential of social networks to change society for the better.
  • Betsy Cotton and Laurie Kretchmar (representing Mary Hughes) from the 2012 Project at Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics who are focused on increasing the number of women in Congress and state legislatures by taking advantage of the once-in-a-decade opportunities of 2012, when they say there are more open seats up for grabs than there will be again until the mid 2030′s (gulp).
  • Christine Bronstein, whose Band of Wives posits a new paradigm for sisterhood based on  a social media community that provides virtual and direct support for women to connect, nurture one another and promote their businesses, talents and passions.
  • Karen Middleton, the new president of Emerge America whose goal is to increase the number of Democratic women in public office through inspiring women to run and training them to win.
  • Musimbi Kanyoro President and CEO and her lovely Director of Development Christine Switzer of the Global Fund for Women bringing grantees and donors together in an international network that promotes women’s action for social change, equality, peace, and justice worldwide.

It was such a great time; I felt like there was so much energy, smarts and creativity in the area of women’s rights that there could be way the status quo could remain in place for much longer. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that way either; whether at the NWPC  Conference in DC or the NCMR in Boston, from Digital Hollywood to the Aspen Institute, everywhere I’ve been in the past few years there has been an uncontainable bubbling up of new power out of the women’s movement.

And yet… with all these puzzle pieces doing their part, and exceptionally well, why is the overall picture still not coming into view?

I think that may be what I should be working on.  Developing the overall narrative, refining the message– making it clear.  Women’s equality is not just right or fair or long overdue – everyone from Sheryl WuDunn & Nicholas Kristof (Half The Sky) to President Obama knows that fully empowering women within the legal and social construct IS the solution for the 21st century. So why is this “no brainer” giving us all migraines?

Could it be that it’s about coming up with the shape, the color, the “front of the box” on the Movement 2.0? Maybe it’s about creating the vehicle that is inclusive enough,  relevant enough, makes the argument simply and indisputably enough to convince the all the puzzle pieces to come together and ride on the same bus – come together and make that unified picture.  I’m going to try to do that.  Come up with what that is.