This past week or so has been nothing short of inspiring.
On Tuesday night, the boost of inspiration I had as an educator and as a writer was upped even more. I had the honor of being able to hear Geena Davis speak at Rutgers University.
As soon as school let out, I went home, changed into comfortable shoes, and headed over to Kirkpatrick Chapel where the lecture was being held.
I managed to be the first person on line. I guess that’s what happens when you arrive for a 7pm event at 4:45!
Geena was giving the 2012 Susan & Michael J. Angelides Lecture. Many people recognize Geena for her roles in Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own, Beetlejuice, and, my personal favorite, the short-lived television series “Commander in Chief.” What many people don’t realize is how eloquent, intelligent, and hilarious Geena is in real-life. (They also don’t realize how tall and gorgeous she is…or how awesome her voice sounds in a chapel.)
Geena Davis is hilarious when she speaks.
Geena spoke about the need to educate the public on the gender disparity found in Hollywood, and the need to empower women in every aspect of society. She specifically expressed her concerns that Hollywood is teaching children to not notice the disparity, especially since there are many gender differences found in G-rated films. “We are saying that women and girls don’t take up half the space in the world. We are telling them that females and girls are less valuable in life,” she explained. I’m not going to continue this post by repeating everything she said, but I will encourage you to check out the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which she founded in 2004 to change the way females are portrayed in feature films.
Geena also said, in regards to the future, “I like to consider myself an impatient optimist. The time for change is NOW.”
One of my first lessons I student-taught was a lesson on Constitution Day, and the role of the President. I had my students define what a leader was to them, and then I had them analyze the following clip from “Commander in Chief” to decide if Mackenzie Allen had what it took to be a strong leader.
After Geena finished speaking on Tuesday night, I went in to fangirl mode and rushed to the front of the room to meet her. Many people were having her sign their copies of her films, but I went up to her with something else in mind.
Two gingers go into a chapel, and the one begins to tell the other about her lesson plans…
Me: “Hi. You were great tonight! I’m sorry to be joining to mob of people swamping you. I have a weird request. I was wondering if you could please sign my lesson plan?”
Geena Davis: “Okay….?”
Me: “I’m currently student teaching in an urban district with students that really lack role models. Most of them don’t have a lot of hope for their futures, and I used a clip from “Commander in Chief” to start a discussion on what a leader is. Now, a lot of them DO have more excitement about their futures, and some have even called you their role model.”
Geena Davis: (pauses, then smiles) “You’re changing the world to be a place I want to be in. Keep up the good work.” (borrow my pen and signs lesson plan)
Geena Davis’ assistant: “Wow, that’s amazing! Now you can tell your supervisor Geena Davis signed off on your lesson plan. Good for you.”
I then proceeded to grin, not hyperventilate, and thank Geena before running out the door and practically crying.
If I’m ever having another tough day of teaching, or if anyone ever gives me shit, I’m going to remember this moment forever and say, “It’s okay. I’m Geena Davis approved.”
Good gawd she is amazing.
I wanted to end with this photo because it looks like the “Commander in Chief” is driving away…Yes, I got a paparazzi shot of Geena driving off into the night.