Documentaries – A Strong Force for Change


Maria Shriver is focusing her attention on the 42 million women living on the brink of, or below, the poverty line. Many of these women are mothers, caring for children — 28 million children if you are counting. Run the numbers. Shockingly, about 20% of our population are impoverished women and children, and they are not all what you’d expect. In the new HBO documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert, Shriver produced a film about the life of one, single mom of three. By shedding light on one woman’s plight, she hopes to raise awareness about this issue and get a conversation started which can lead to some solutions.

I had the opportunity to interview Shriver and Gilbert about the film for I had dozens of questions, but tried to limit them to things pertinent to the film. Really, I just wanted to pour some wine and get down to it, but I exhibited self restraint. The edited down interview can be seen here.

There is one question I was kicking myself for not asking. In The Shriver Report, A Women’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink, Shriver describes a conversation she had with her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, toward the end of her life. Being awed at all her mom has accomplished, she asks her if she is proud of all she has done. Eunice replies, “No,” and goes on to explain that the real power for change is holding a public office. As a woman, she didn’t have that chance, and she felt her contribution was less because of it. I was curious if Maria Shriver, with her impressive resume, felt the same. Would she consider running for office at some point?

Today, woman have more political opportunities. We have a record number of women in Congress, though still only about 20%. But, in 2014, is this the only way to affect positive change? Film is an incredibly powerful medium. Documentaries like, Girl RisingThe Race to Nowhere, and Invisible War are raising awareness about societal issues affecting women and children. The impact of these movies can be vast. Storytelling can move us in a way public policy can’t. Women have always been great storytellers and great champions of those with no voice. Documentary making is a natural fit for our sisters who are courageous and generous enough to do it. Rather than encouraging powerful women like Shriver to run for office, perhaps we should be begging them to make more movies. Behind the camera may, in fact, be more powerful than behind the podium. Spread the word. Get involved. The struggle for equality is far from over. Turn off The Bachelor and watch some true Reality TV.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness Coach. She specializes in supporting parents and college students. Email her at to learn more. She is the author of the Audible Original, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents.


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