I recently had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the lovely and talented Erin Nolan. Not only is Erin is a professional actress and model here in the Bay Area, but she's a woman with a lot of great insight on the impact women have made in the entertainment industry as well as the challenges they still face today.
For someone like me who sometimes buys into the common misconception that models and actresses have it wonderfully easy, a conversation with Erin helped correct that perspective. Actresses and models face some of the same challenges that everyday women face, perhaps even more so due to the industry they work in. But despite these challenges, there are also more women today influencing change in the film industry, sharing powerful stories that beckons an audience to listen like never before.
Erin, thank you for allowing me to capture you in these photographs. But even more than that, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to hear about the hopes and aspirations you have for all women, not just those in the entertainment industry. Here's to inspiring change for women in film - and beyond.
What do you think makes a woman truly beautiful?
"For me, a woman's beauty is based on the things that make her who she is - not what society thinks she is or should be. For me, the answer then becomes the same things that makes any human being beautiful.
Be it their inspiring compassion. Their bold creativity. Their contagious positivity. Feminine beauty of all too often evokes images of unattainable physical form or superficiality - and can lead a woman to suddenly fear, "if I have none of those things, am I not beautiful?"
Why must feminine beauty be based off of something purely physical and ever-changing, when women do SO much more their whole lives? They are mothers, best friends, CEOs, teachers - they are the brave pioneers of a new path of women every day. They are bringers of love, of hope, bearers of life - and isn't life the most beautiful thing?"
"To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman being all that she is, and all she ever wanted to be, living a kind, honest and beautiful life, far too free to allow any suppressive standard stand in her way."
What do you appreciate most about your life now?
"That I have freedom live in an evolving world that is becoming more and more accepting and encouraging of a woman to takes charge of her own life and not define herself as others seek to define her."
"And of course, to be so blessed to have the incredible support of friends and family to live this life on my own terms."
As an actress, what would you like to see changed about the industry and how women are portrayed and perceived in the media?
"I would like to see the microphone passed to women, to truly be given an honest and steady voice for their stories in film. Issues that we face each day have a way of being reinforced by stereotypes perpetuated through film."
"A huge problem is the overwhelming majority of stories center around a male protagonist, where the female character is there often for little more than to "embellish" his story.
They are the cute love interest. The seductive femme fatale. The captive princess. The murdered wife. The kidnapped daughter. The motivator for the male to begin his journey, to tell his story. But their identity is forever lost within that role, eternally valuable within the plot only for how they add to his story. "
"Women have so much more to offer.
In fact, the more that Hollywood has allowed and created female characters who stepped outside of the real or imagined society of their cinematic reality, we have been rewarded with incredibly captivating and iconic characters."
"When we cease to base a female character's value on their appearance and sex appeal, or as an accessory to the male protagonist and re-shift the focus to the female character's actual experiences: her journey, her struggles, contributions, and triumphs, we get Ripley, Katniss, Daenerys, Sarah Connor, Liz Lemon, Aibileen, Lisbeth, Elsa, Aowyn, Hermione, Rey, and Furiosa!
Is it any coincidence that these characters are all a part of some of the most beloved, critically acclaimed and prestigious award winning films/shows of our lifetime? Certainly not, for these are accomplishments that would never have happened without them had they instead taken a quiet backseat to the story.
Every woman has got an incredible story to tell. Now is the time for us to listen, and to be inspired to live as bravely as they do."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Be sure to check out the slideshow below showcasing Erin's photo session!