Kiwi actress Miriama McDowell says attending an all-girls school taught her how powerful women could be

'At a very young age I understood the strength of women and the importance for women to stand up and be counted and have a strong voice.'
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Kiwi actress and director Miriama McDowell believes that going to an all-girls school taught her about the strength of women, and helped shape her to be the woman she is today.

Miriama attended Auckland Girls Grammar School and reflects: “I think going to a girls school really influenced who I am. At a very young age I understood the strength of women and the importance for women to stand up and be counted and have a strong voice.”

Miriama shares these revelatioins in an interview for a special NZ on Air-funded project to mark 125 years of suffrage in New Zealand. Miriama is one of eight prominent Kiwi women to bring to life the words of suffragette Kate Sheppard in a rousing video that can be viewed online.

As part of the project the eight women were also interviewed about their personal influences and views on women’s issues.

Miriama, who names her greatest influence as Te Rārawa leader Dame Whina Cooper, became aware of women’s suffrage in New Zealand when its 100-year anniversary was celebrated at school, and it hasn’t been lost on her that despite her feminist influences she went on to work in an industry that is “unequal”.

“Right through my career I’ve played the girlfriends of people rather than the character. I’ve noticed that when I work for women, women writers, women directors… suddenly I get to play a full character who has a story arc.

“I worked on a project last year with nine wahine Maori directors, on a film project called Waru. I feel that’s a step in the direction we really need to go – so it’s giving women the opportunity to tell stories, giving them the opportunity to be behind the camera, directing.

“And the trickle-down effect of that is that women actresses get parts to play, women crews start to come on and start working in all the roles and that women themselves see themselves on the big screen in a way that they never have before.

“I’m looking at the films that used to be my favourite films when I was growing up and I realise that in all of them women were treated as objects, and I can’t believe that that was the only frame of reference I had for… stories about women… We as women must become the lead character in stories so we start to see ourselves.”

Watch her full three-minute interview, above.

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