“Intel Renee, San Francisco. Take 17.” Yes, it took 17 ‘takes’ to shoot a 20 second clip of me for Intel ‘s latest commercial on CNN (which is part of the buildup to the CNN Broadcast of Girl Rising on June 16th and June 22 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Japan, and China). The film crew asked me a series of questions that had to be absolutely perfect. No ‘ums’, pauses, or extra words allowed. By the time we got to take 14, when the camera assistant came in front of me, and fixed a stray lock of hair on my shoulder for the third time–random thoughts started flowing through my head. Ann Curry’s hair is probably in perfect order all the time. What is the name of this thing they keep clapping in front of my face? (which thanks to Wikipedia I now know is called a clapperboard) How on earth is it humanly possible for anyone to film a 2 hour movie?
Over the last two years, I have been part of a cross-Intel team working with 10×10, the group that produced the Girl Rising film. What is different about 10×10 is that they not only produced a beautiful film to tell a story—in this case about the power of education in transforming a girls’ life. They simultaneously kicked off a powerful social action campaign and used media and storytelling to raise awareness, change policies and the lives of girls all over the world.
The film Girl Rising shows how access to education is unequal globally. Access to technologies is also incredibly unequal. In January 2013, we released a report called “Women and the Web” which shows that 23% fewer women than men are online in developing countries and in places like Sub-Saharan Africa that number soars to nearly 45%. Our programs focus on empowering and educating girls and women with technology tools, resources and opportunities that can help them change their lives.
CNN is airing a broadcast of Girl Rising on Father’s Day—which I think is a wonderfully appropriate day to show a film about girls changing the world. In my role in Intel’s Corporate Affairs Group, I work with many of our strategic partners (ranging from international organizations like USAID and UN Women to nonprofits like CARE and World Vision) on initiatives where technologies can be used as a tool to improve education, to spur social innovation, and at the same time enable Intel’s business. When I speak externally on panels about Intel’s girls and women’s initiative, my closing remarks usually touch on the importance of engaging men in this topic. This is something I know firsthand coming from a family with an incredibly supportive dad (who is prone to extreme exaggeration in bragging about both his daughters’ and now granddaughters’ accomplishments. Read: after my daughter was 1 week old, he made an assessment to anyone who would listen that she was ”highly intelligent.”) Without strong dads, brothers, husbands and male champions more broadly, this becomes sidelined as a ‘women’s issue’ rather than a societal challenge that affects us all.
From the first moment Intel’s CNN commercial aired, I started hearing about it. A friend from grad school wrote to say that she woke up in Hong Kong and saw my face on the screen. An old friend from northern Kenya (where I started a research camp with my husband and worked with rural women’s groups and schools) said he happened to be standing in the one place with a television in an incredibly remote, rural place and suddenly I popped up onto the screen. I didn’t realize that my 20 seconds of fame would be so widely viewed. CNN’s power of international viewership coupled with Girl Rising’s message makes me hopeful that the important message about educating girls will be heard around the world—and that as a result, people will feel compelled to do something about it. Join us in spreading the word about the broadcast!
Intel’s commercial about girls’ education on CNN