The powerful new film has been released by Girl Up in partnership with Refinery29 and Ogilvy
We all watched as Kamala Harris stood where no woman, and no Black or South Asian woman, has ever stood before in U.S. history. It was a milestone moment for millions of Americans who have yearned to see faces that resemble their own at the highest levels of our democracy. A new film released last night by Girl Up, the gender equality youth initiative of the United Nations Foundation, in partnership with Refinery29 and Ogilvy, captures this history-making moment through the eyes of girls who watched as the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants was sworn in as the 49th vice president of the United States, becoming the highest-ranking female politician in American history.
‘Today We Rise’ illustrates the immeasurable impact that the images of vice president Harris taking her oath of office, administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor - the first Latina to serve on the nation’s highest court - will have on generations to come. ‘Today We Rise’ was filmed and produced by a volunteer network of photographers and cinematographers during the inauguration in over 30 households across the country. It was edited immediately after the inauguration ceremony, going live within hours of the event. Music supervision was done by Big Sync Music.
The film will be featured in a personal essay by Refinery29’s global editor-in-chief, Simone Oliver, as she reflects on what this moment means to her as a Black woman and Howard Alumna as well as for future generations of young girls, including her daughters. "I’m not naive to think the swearing in of Madam vice president Kamala Harris was the antidote for a nation in need." she said. "It was about representation and showing our girls what’s possible and that possibility offers hope.”
Girl Up’s leadership development programs have impacted 75,000 through 4,000 clubs in nearly 125 countries and all 50 U.S. States. They focus on building leadership within individual girls first, including self-confidence, personal accountability and long-term aspirations. Where they strive to inspire a generation of girls to be a force for gender equality and social change.
Pumie Msengana, global client director at Ogilvy, commented: “Kamala Harries is such a powerful leader and trailblazer and we were inspired to do something to celebrate her becoming the first female vice president of the United States. We wanted to experience this historical moment from the eyes of the future leaders of tomorrow. To do so we couldn’t have thought of a better partner, than the UN Foundation Girl Up.”
Melissa Kilby, Girl Up executive director, said: “This moment is about hope and possibilities. It's about infinite potential – not just that of Madam vice president Kamala Harris, but of every girl, everywhere. Girls seeing her taking the oath will grow up to remember the moment they first believed they could do anything – because of what they saw her do.”
Simone added: "I’m not naive to think the swearing in of Madam vice president Kamala Harris was the antidote for a nation in need. It was about representation and showing our girls what’s possible and that possibility offers hope."
“It is hard to sum up the impact this moment will have around the world in words, so we wanted people to experience it through the faces that will shape the future." commented Daniel Fisher, global executive creative director at Ogilvy. "Vice president Kamala Harris may be the first woman to hold high office in the US, but she won’t be the last. The inauguration was a huge moment in history, so it’s an honour for Ogilvy to have collaborated with Girl Up to make this film and we’re so grateful to everyone who donated their time to help us capture this inspiring event.”
UNIT sound designer, Markus Ffitch, worked alongside VFX artist Scott Ryan to get the spot ready for its release. “It's always a lot of fun working closely in a small team, especially when the pressure is on and we only have a few hours! With such a tight schedule, it’s about focusing on the most apparent elements in the mix - making Kamala and Sonia's voice bold and bringing as much gravitas to them as possible. It's a huge moment and so it should sound like history.”
To add to the pressure of the time constraints, being live audio and only having one take in far from ideal outdoor conditions meant it wasn’t an easy task.
Markus commented: “Unfortunately, It was very windy so I had my work cut out on that one! It was also important to get the live recording as clean as possible so that it didn't muddy the music which carried a lot of emotional resonance - a really lovely track. Then I quickly recorded some small details on the opening (cloth movements for the little girl as well as room tone before it gives way to the music) and rounded off the end with a blend of real crowds from the ceremony and some nice wide stereo crowds from our library to give a final touch of enhancement.”
The film was shot live during the inauguration, with the team at UNIT working throughout the night to ensure the campaign could be made live within hours of the event. Commercial director, Darryl Bolton, explained “The brief came in on the Saturday before the inauguration and we were very pleased to have been asked to get involved with such a great idea and good cause. With such a fast turn around we had to rise to the challenge. On Monday we had a meeting with the agency team and director in LA, and by Tuesday we were prepped and ready to go.”