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THE ART OF BEAUTY Our Most-Wanted Beauty Products That Are Almost Too Pretty To Use


How One Film Project Might Change the Lives of Millions of Girls Worldwide




THE ART OF BEAUTY Our Most-Wanted Beauty Products That Are Almost Too Pretty To Use


How One Film Project Might Change the Lives of Millions of Girls Worldwide










Shop, Collaborate & Listen


Breaking Beauty Boundaries


Art Influencers


Songs for the creative soul


A Pop Art Movement


The Art of Beauty


Noir & Gold


Girls on the Horizon


The Best of Photo Diary: Arts Edition

MUSIC: Electropop meets performance art for Los Angeles duo, Hi-Fashion

FASHION: The best upcoming holiday collaborations

BEAUTY: A conversation with beauty photographer Alexander Straulino

LOCAL: The rising art stars among DC’s most influential

MUSIC: Playlist for artistic inspiration

FASHION: Looks inspired Inspired by artist Andy Warhol

BEAUTY: 11 products that are almost too pretty to use


FILM: How one film project could change the future for millions of girls worldwide


Beyond Obsessed!  MeetsObsession.com


Fashion’s Pop Art Movement READ MORE ON PAGE 25

MASTHEAD Editor-in-Chief

Jacqueline Law

Fashion & Beauty Fashion Director

Jenny McFarlane Managing Beauty Editor

Administrative Visual Design Associate

Victoria Tran

Music and A&E Promotions Mgr.

Joshua Feldman

Susan Linney

Advertising Director

Managing Fashion Editor



Meets Obsession Media LLC 1-888-588-2146 editor@meetsobsessionmagazine.com

Sinta Jimenez

Lindsey Hascher

Lisa Nobles


Bridget Marowski

© 2013 Meets Obsession LLC.

Arts & Entertainment

Meets Obsession magazine is printed in the U.S.A.


Visit us online at: meetsobsession.com

Patricia Callahan



Israel Daramola Writer

Sarah Marloff Writer

Saron Olkaba Writer

Maggie Stamets

COVER CREDITS photography

Holly Burnham makeup

Caitlyn Meyer hair

Holly Burnham model

Prada Spring 2014 RTW

Leanne Hyer5

Electropop Meets Performance Art In Hi-Fashion by Sarah Marloff

The music duo, Hi-Fashion, is taking Manhattan by storm. Comprised of band mates Jen DM and Rick Gradone, Hi-Fashion has a flair for the avant-garde.


“It was based on a crappy clothing store in L.A. because we loved the idea that anyone thought High Fashion could cost $5.99.”


M and Gradone first met at a gay bar where Gradone flirted with DM, thinking she was a man. Despite this mishap, the two became fast friends and eventually forged their band.

Since then, Hi-Fashion has been in high demand due to the airing of their music video for the single, “I’m Not Madonna.” Gossip blogger, Perez Hilton posted the video and suddenly, Gradon and DM were “getting invitations all over the place.”

doing experiments on time travel devices,” DM hints. “But its all super top secret and we can’t really talk about it other than that.” Like the band, Gradone himself is big on theatrics.

“The response has been incredible,” said Gradone.

His work as a part-time hairdresser on fashion shoots–including Victoria Secret shows–inspired him to write “SemiPermanent,” a one-man show about being (you guessed it) a hairdresser. He performed the piece in the New York Fringe Festival in 2007 and won the title of “Outstanding Solo Show.”

Hi-Fashion, as described by DM, is an “electro pop explosion that combines big analog beats with world sounds” to create a wild dance party. The band hopes to play huge shows all over the world and continue making incredible videos.

Hailing from New York, and living in LA has supplied the duo with a love of fashion. They originally named themselves Hi-Fashion $5.99. “It was based on a crappy clothing store in L.A. because we loved the idea that anyone thought High Fashion could cost $5.99,” said DM.

“My husky soulful voice and hard-hitting raps along with Rick’s stratospheric falsettos makes for a pretty unique sound,” says DM. “We want to promote the idea of fun for everyone.”

“Then a lawyer told us we should change the price for legal reasons and we became Hi-Fashion $9.99 upon the urging of an astrologer.”

While DM and Gradone hail from New York, Hi-Fashion is based in Los Angeles where the pair has top-secret day jobs. “In an alternate universe, we are both full-time astrophysicists

The pair soon dropped the price tag when they realized the irony they needed was already in the name.

8 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue

“We’ve become a lot more expensive since then so it’s kind of

like when you go to a really expensive store there are no price tags,” sums up DM. So what are their must-have fashion items? Unsurprisingly, their choices and reasons for selecting them are a bit far out. Gradone cites his mouse ears and Rick Owens men’s skirt, while DM’s is fond of her Nick Cave Soundsuit and “anything unwearable by Gareth Pugh.” She also admits to liking comfortable shoes because sometimes her feet hurt from stomping on stage. As far as their music career goes, they agree that everyday has been a highlight. Their latest album, “You Are Gorgeous,” which was funded by a campaign on Kickstarter, was released this past July and is now available on iTunes. Also, for their fans, they want them to know that cinnamon should be used as often as possible in cooking “because it helps regulate [the] body’s natural insulin production.” n

................................................. Photos by Kate Reeder


, p E o T A sh R O B A L L CO Listen and


as ey H


by L



Isabel Marant

Jay Z


Alice + Olivia





November 11

November 12

Carrying around a USB cable can be such a hassle, but with this stylish accessory your phone will never go uncharged again. These customized tech bracelets, designed by Mara Hoffman, Michael Bastian, MILLY by Michelle Smith, Rachel Zoe and Shipley & Halmos, are the perfect holiday present for any tech savvy fashionista.

Who doesn’t want their coffee cup to look like a ballerina? Following in the footsteps of Christian Siriano, Jonathan Adler, Rodarte and Charlotte Ronson, Starbucks has now teamed up with Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet to create a limited edition mug and Bearista, perfect for any your stylish and girly girlfriends.

r e d u a L e e st 10 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue


November 14

H&M collaborations are so popular that there are now rules for how to shop the collections. Following in the footsteps of Matthew Williamson, Marni, and Versace, this chic French brand is bringing all of their favorites to their collaboration. Filled with slouchy boots, chunky sweaters, and tribal prints, this collection is expected to go fast, so get online early.


November 20

Only Jay-Z and Barney’s could launch a collection called “A New York Holiday.” The BNY SCC Gallery Collection features collaborations with top designers like Balmain, Proenza Schouler, Lanvin and Balenciaga, and is curated by Mr. Carter to create a truly over the top collaboration. Leather backpack, anyone?

st e B the the o t e s of d i u G ation r u o Y labor ason Col iday Se Hol

Beyond Obsessed!  MeetsObsession.com


a r a M l e ab


M & H

Banana Republic

Alexa Chung

Estee Lauder


L’Wren Scott


Derek Lam

Michael Kors





December 5

January 2014

January 2014


Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Penelope Cruz and even Michelle Obama are huge fans of L’Wren Scott’s designs, so it is no surprise that Banana Republic teamed up with her to create a holiday collection. As Mick Jagger’s girlfriend and one of Hollywood’s top stylists, this queen of couture created a “modern collegiate” collection full of elegant prints and festive sequins, perfect for any holiday party.

No one can rock a cat-eye quite like Alexa Chung, which is why she has teamed up with the perfect company to make her classic look more accessible to her fans. Launching on the Eyeko website this month and in Sephora stores this January, anyone with an eyeliner obsession has to check out this collection.

Estee Lauder has been Derek Lam’s go-to source for beauty for the last eight seasons of runway shows, so it makes perfect sense that they have teamed up for a limited-edition collection. The collection is a navy Derek Lam clutch filled with 5 runway-ready products, perfect for day or night. Can you say win-win?

First Stella, now Michael Kors. Gwyneth Paltrow is bringing her A-game with this amazing collection for the holiday season. Paltrow is making her weekly collaborations on her lifestyle website, Goop, a must. And with friends like hers, we have a feeling the best is yet to come.


y a B




Beyond Obsessed!  MeetsObsession.com

BREAKING BEAUTY BOUNDARIES A Conversation With Beauty Photographer Alexander Straulino by Sinta Jimenez Fashion photographer Alexander Straulino turns beauty into art with his stunning, vivid photography. Focusing mostly on beauty shots, his work transforms the human form into close-up, provocative works of art. Meets Obsession: Describe your signature/aesthetic that you try to incorporate into each of your works? Alexander Straulino: I try to create a timeless piece. One you can look at for a few years… You lose yourself if you travel with trends. I really adore the ‘40s Harper’s Bazaar. This is what I describe as timeless, it’s more like a classic way of approaching photography. MO: For anyone who’s interested in pursuing fashion photography, what is the number one thing they need to know? Alexander Straulino: Stay away from trends! It’s funny. A couple months ago, an assistant of mine quit and he asked me, ‘Alex, what should I shoot now, what do people want to see?’ I think the biggest mistake you can do is think of what they want to see instead of what you want to show. You have to train your technique and art, then later on you can play, but it takes a while. Shoot for yourself and see what comes out of you, show your personality. MO: What or who is currently inspiring you? Alexander Straulino: I like Terry Richardson as a character, though not his kind of photography. I like the 20s, 30s, and 40s, when the first magazines came out. ManRay. I try to keep away from taking my inspiration from actual magazines, I collect photobooks. MO: If time were not an issue, whose portrait would you love to photograph? Alexander Straulino: I would love to [photograph} Picasso. n

................................................. © Alexander Straulino


influencers We’re on a quest to find the next “it” artist. So, who better to ask than a few of the District’s most prominent and well-versed art influencers? Armed with a wealth of knowledge, the following trailblazers, all of who are curating, creating, organizing and leading the pack in DC’s art scene, share who are among their favorite rising artists. Consider yourself in the know.

14 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue

Beyond Obsessed!  MeetsObsession.com

Kristin Guiter

Principle, KKG Arts + Culture Communications Kristin’s Rising Artist Pick

Caitlin Teal Price “ Caitlin is an incredibly talented photographer who has a studio in Shaw and is currently presenting work in upcoming exhibitions at Heiner Contemporary and the 10th anniversary Transformer auction. Caitlin creates beautiful landscapes, but I love her photography of people the most. She has an extraordinary way of truly seeing people and connecting with her subjects through the lens of the camera. In a recent series called “Washed Up,” Caitlin captures the essences of sunbathers, revealing their distinctive personalities through thoughtful details.

Photo: Marshall Johnson

Caitlin Teal Price Washed Up Series, Pink Bikini © 2008 Caitlin Teal Price caitlintealprice.com

Jessika Dené Tarr, Artwork from Relentless Coil zine © Jessika Dené Tarr jessikatarr.com

Beyond Obsessed!  MeetsObsession.com

Victoria F. Gaitán Artist victoriafgaitan.com

Victoria’s Rising Artist Pick

Jessika Dené Tarr “Jessika's work combines elements of illustration, graphic novel and fine art. It has a healthy whack of fluid lines, and my personal favorite; beautiful humans, more often than not, in not so beautiful situations or interpretations. She balances the light with the dark deftly and often with a subtle, cheeky humor. ”

Photo: Victoria F. Gaitán

Jessika Dené Tarr Goat Priest © Jessika Dené Tarr jessikatarr.com


Victoria Reis

Co-Founder, Executive & Artistic Director of Transformer transformerdc.org Victoria’s Rising Artist Picks

Colin Kloecker & Shanai Matteson “ Colin Kloecker & Shanai Matteson of Works Progress in Minneapolis, MN are doing incredible work to “create artistic platforms for people to engage, connect, converse and create with/in their neighborhoods and communities, across creative and culture boundaries.” They are part of a new model of how artists are working that I think we will see more of in the next year.”

Chakraphan Rangaratna (TANG), Untitled 1, 7.25” X 5.25” Ink, Spray Paint, & Gouache on Found Paper © 2008 TANG. Courtesy of Transformer Courtesy Photo

18 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue

Works Progress, A Public Thing, 2011 © Zoe Prinds-Flash | worksprogress.org

“ My Barbarian - (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade). Based both in NYC and LA, My Barbarian has already been performing and exhibiting internationally since they started working together in 2000, but these are rising stars whom I think we’ll be hearing a lot about in coming years.” “ There are [also] so many incredible artists emerging within DC’s cultural community. I’m very proud of the growing roster of artists Transformer has been inviting to be part of our FlatFile program… There is an incredibly strong mix of works in the FlatFiles by DC artists like: Bonner Sale, Eames Armstrong, Matt Hollis, Victor Koroma, Jenny Walton, Tang, and many many others!”

Bonner Sale, What Lovers Eye Never Sees, 11” X 15”, Gouache And Pencil On Reeves. © 2013 Bonner Sale. Courtesy of Transformer | bonnersale.com

Noelle K. Tan, Untitled, 20” x 16,” silver gelatin print © 2013 Noelle K. Tan

B. Stanley Executive Director for the DC Arts Center dcartscenter.org B. Stanley’s Artist Pick

Noelle K. Tan

20 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue

“Noelle K. Tan, a photographer who works mostly with black and white photography. Noelle had a solo exhibition at DCAC’s art gallery back in 2005, and I still cannot forget those images till this day. The amount of talent and craft that she is capable of still strikes me.” “Her process and the way she approaches her medium is something very different, while being very progressive and unexpected at the same time. Noelle’s photography pushes the realm of photography to the point where it doesn’t even look like photography.”

Beyond Obsessed!  MeetsObsession.com

Philippa Hughes

Chief Creative Contrarian, The Pink Line Project pinklineproject.com Philippa’s Rising Artist Pick

Olivia Rodriguez “ I love Olivia’s work because she sees beauty in the decay and detritus of the natural world and turns those things into exquisite objects that you just can’t stop looking at. She is a keen observer and her work is true to the details of the unnoticed yet essential workings of an inner life that we don’t seem to notice anymore.”

Olivia Rodriguez, Sweet Erection (detail), 2012 mixed media, 22” x 13” x 12” Photo: Trevor Young oliviarodriguez.net

Photo: Kate Reeder

Olivia Rodriguez Trails 2011 mixed media 5” x 9” x 5” Photo: Trevor Young

For the creative soul by Maggie Stamets

We’ve all been there before: the dreadful creative block. No matter what you’re trying to create—that way past due art school project, writing a short story, or painting something just for the hell of it—getting into the creative mindset can sometimes prove to be nearly impossible. If even after trying all of your usual fool-proof methods, like staring at a blank sheet of paper and waiting for a big idea to suddenly come to you, or indulging in your self-prescribed Glaucoma “medication,” and still nothing comes to you—give these songs a try to unleash your creative spirit! 22 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue


relax and focus

For you paint-nerds, illustrators and sketch-artists, these songs are perfect for creating your next fine art masterpiece.

Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix) Feist

The remix is 3 parts dance beats, 3 parts synthpop, 4 parts magical and all parts awesome. You’ll have your creative juices flowing in no time!

energize Number 9


If Jackson Pollock were alive today, this song would be his artistic anthem. No other song is more perfect for going crazy and rubbing some colors on a canvas while dancing in your underwear.

Plug in your best headphones and crank up this song while sitting at your drafting table. By the end of the song, your hand will have drawn something that will surprise even you.

Moon Hooch

Walk The Moon

If you’re creating something physical like a sculpture or bust, or even imagining your next dance choreography, you’ll needs songs that will energize and inspire! Give these invigorating songs a listen to get your mojo flowing.

Trouble Blues Sam Cooke

If this smooth-like-butta song won’t make you want to light a cigarette and create something beautiful and sexy, we just don’t know what will.

write Writers block is a daily struggle for anyone trying to make a living off the written word. No matter what you are trying to write, turn up these tunes to get you in the zone.

Come Into My Head

No Story Time

This song perfectly captures the manic and intensity of how frustrating a creative brain block can be. The general awesomeness of this piece will definitely call forward your hidden creative side.

Lift your sculptor’s block blues and throw some fun back into your creative process with this catchy little ditty.



Today’s Supernatural

Animal collective

A slightly obscure song that will make you want to nail some stuff together. Furniture making, anyone?

It All Feels Right


This psychedelic song will stimulate you and promise to take your mind off your work long enough to let a stroke of genius make its way into your mind.

The frequent changes in the song make it complicated, yet not hard to follow, but still full of loops, twists and turns, just like any great story.

Washed Out


Fly Trapped in a Jar

Modest Mouse

This song is just fast-paced enough to throw some energy into your writing and liven up the most rigorous creative process: getting started.

{sweater} River Island Green Unfastened Cardigan, $40, riverisland.com {pant} McQ By Alexander McQueen Faux Leather Front Skinny Trouser, $285, farfetch.com {shirt} Equipment Reese Plaid Silk Blouse, $395, matchesfashion.com {scarf} ISSA White/Red Andy Border Printed Silk Scarf, $205, stylebop.com {necklace} ANGIE Shanelle Spike Necklace, $20, swell.com {shoes} Dorothy Perkins Bronx Black Leather Cut Out Boot, $119, dorothyperkins.com, {ring} Noir Jewelry Pow Ring, $65, shopbop.com

24 | Meets Obsession Magazine ď ľ The Art Issue


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ga havin l l i t s is led hion tly revea s a f y and ecen uirky cFarlan nt da tist. Dior r arhol’s q days M e y s n n e e r r by J to p ith W nic a ation rward h the ico lazoned w ion illustr ave reo f t s h it h b Fa son, air w s em is fas t, ve aff and bag s from h after sea rks. n o e l m son sign hes two lors move ic clutc -shoe de hers, sea by his ar of co s, p Art h his icon nx i o m P t d d the wit ectic aphic gilde untless o s inspire latio n ecl . Bold gr imal ure in the world d the re y o n a g c o i fi t p d c u g e n e t r a le s an . plor adin ook lebri d col njure limits he , stylized Art trend e o l c a s a le arhol sh pieces ex ssion, ce e ‘60s. t e r o v s n A p e o W e p p h e s re ar ern P t sha l’s Po Andy of art. Hi istic expr omed in t let arho ures - the , abstrac the mod t a, r s i o W a k d b r t rhol, ooks. e n o s t n a a t e i m x w h a , e f t W e e y e t r o l w s h e s bet ent and ated rep all featu so lik e daring form hotograp , r y ship vertisem l o l n l s l e e a o p r a tess and flor ad ith c ing, ur th ted m , and fun w all with o pora , printmak ts r e e r n i o g v u r c t a n l p i t n t i g cu alk s to h men orks lm. aintin key i old and w xperi wspaol’s w awing, p re, and fi e e h h n r T a a b e W u dr beg ts, n , be culpt ding loose en he ertisemen ages from h inclu reening, s w c ics, keted ed im n adv silk s kyroc based o s-produc rhero com 2, he s r e as ‘6 pe are ons His c producti d other m uch as su bottles. In jects n e b s r a a u with adlines, r culture oca Col ; other s lvis C e la e E per h an popu tins, and n Monro e O and c i y i l p i k r r u c e Ja Am bell’s so its of Ma luded 949 a p e in 1 pCam his portr tment inc n i z a r a n r mag tor for Ha , bega similar tre a few. u o m a la e tr tial given y, to nam k in G ional illus ry influen r o w e s is er. as ve Presl rofes ed h ebut g as a p fashion w ist togeth d g ex Havin en workin oray into could f n h t o s i i d h h n s r, a a azaa and f er’s B g that art in prov


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{dress} Topshop Fun Leopard Print Tunic Dress, $90, topshop.com {bracelet} Hermès Mini Etriviere 4 Tours Bracelet, $435, usa.hermes.com { jacket} Topshop Boxy Leather Biker Jacket, $370, topshop.com {scarf} Sole Society Polka Dot Infinity Scarf, $25, solesociety.com {necklace} MDKN Necklace - Pow, $60, modekungen.se {shoes} Forever 12 Rock ‘n’ Roll High-Tops, $40, forever21.com

26 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue

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  1 1

Korres Cheek Butter

Takashi Murakami for Shu Uemura

As with an artist’s old-fashioned palette, you can play with these colors to create dimension, texture, and one-of-a-kind finishes, using your eyelids as your canvas.

Creamy, hydrating and antioxidant-infused, this cheek tint blends beautifully into your skin, giving you just as much flush as you’d like. Each shade has a differently designed pot, all with a nod to the brand’s Greek heritage.

Shu Uemura has teamed up with contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to decorate their special collection for the 2013 holiday season. This beautifully designed palette includes seven iridescent eye shadow shades as well as a pretty pink cheek stain.

ahalife.com $40

sephora.com $25

shuuemura-usa.com $69

Make Aether Palette

28 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue


Gucci Guilty

Gucci’s golden, glass-andmetal bottle is like a piece of perfumed treasure. The scent is fruity and floral, with a rich amber base and notes of citrus, black pepper and patchouli.

sephora.com $75

Lancôme X Alber Elbaz Limited Edition “Show” Mascara Line

Adorably decorated by Alber Elbaz, artistic designer for the fashion line Lanvin, this high intensity mascara creates lashes that are bold and dramatic—like the entire limited-edition line itself.

sephora.com $27

Diptyque Hourglass Diffuser

Stila Masterpiece Series

This beautiful “book” includes three artistinspired eye and cheek palettes — The Minimalist, The Impressionist, and The Modernist. Each “volume” contains three eye shadow shades and one cheek stain. The set also includes easy-to-use makeup tips from Sarah Lucero, Stila’s Global Executive Director of Creative Artistry.

Soap & Paper Factory Solid Perfume Solid perfumes are the best when it comes to easy transportation of scent (especially if you travel a lot), and S&P has a wealth of fragrances to choose from. We love this Balsam Fig tin, with its green, woodsy color tone and cool illusion of texture.

We’ll always be candle lovers (in part, because of how pretty they are), but a recent near-miss flame fiasco has me turning to diffusers as of late. So I was thrilled when I found Diptyque’s new hourglass-shaped scent dispensers, which used no heat or battery-power— you just turn the gorgeous glass over when needed, and your favorite Diptyque scent is slowly released.

diptyqueparis.com $145

soapandpaperfactory.com $18

stilacosmetics.com $39

Kjaer Weiss Lip Tint

All of the items in Kjaer Weiss’s all-natural makeup line are uniquely designed, encased in shiny silver that bares the KW logo. The lip tints’ swivel opening makes fingertip application easy, and the Sensuous Plum shade is perfect for fall and winter

kjaerweis.com $48

Lip Shit Lip Balm

Just because Blue-Q’s balm is a bit low brow doesn’t mean the packaging isn’t artistic. The designs are wonderfully cheeky, and the straightforward nature of these potent lip soothers make them awesome conversation starters. “Excuse me, would you like some Lip Shit?”

fab.com $20 for pack of 3

Anna Sui Lipstick

Anna Sui’s cosmetics are as artfully designed as her clothes. Highly pigmented and super smooth, this rich red glides on easily and looks as lovely as the flower that tops the product’s black metal tube.

b-glowing.com $30


30 | Meets Obsession Magazine ď ľ The Art Issue


Holly Burnham makeup

Caitlyn Meyer hair

Holly Burnham model

Leanne Hyer

32 | Meets Obsession Magazine ď ľ The Art Issue

Beyond Obsessed! ď ľ MeetsObsession.com

34 | Meets Obsession Magazine ď ľ The Art Issue

Beyond Obsessed! ď ľ MeetsObsession.com

36 | Meets Obsession Magazine ď ľ The Art Issue

Beyond Obsessed! ď ľ MeetsObsession.com

38 | Meets Obsession Magazine ď ľ The Art Issue

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ON THE HORIZON What if education could put an end to poverty? It’s a big IF, and an even bigger question (not to mention, task) to tackle. But what if it could? Specifically, what if educating girls all over the world could actually change the human experience as we know it? by Sarah Marloff


he recent documentary, “Girls Ris- time in his schedule in order to talk with ing,” tackles the job of trying to an- Meets Obsession about the eight years swer that question. he spent working on this documentary, And with a lineup of nine inspiring his role as a male director in a story about girls, nine gifted writers telling their sto- women, and what we can all do to make a ries, nine acclaimed actress narrating, an difference. all-star cast of production workers and an Academy Award nominee director, the film might actually be enough to ignite some change.

It was an early Tuesday morning when Robbins picked up his cell phone and apologized.

On the way to his Los Angeles office, he Director Richard Robbins, formerly of ABC was still sitting in traffic. News and PBS’ “Frontline,” cleared some

........................................................ PHOTO: GIRL RISING © 2013


GIRLS ON THE HORIZON Meets Obsession: How did you become the director of “Girls Rising?”

from falling into that trap. Having the writers, who came from the same countries as our girls, were essential to the story.

Richard Robbins: Well, originally our little documentary company [The Documentary Group] was asked to look into global poverty issues for a client who wanted to make a film on ending global poverty.

MO: An all-star cast of actresses, including Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, and Alicia Keys narrate the film. How did you go about signing these stars?

While I focused a lot on politics during my time at ABC, the topic was new to me. So I dove in; started [educating] myself about the issues. And I kept coming across these remarkable studies about girls’ education. The numbers continued to show what a difference it made. At first I thought it was just new to me because it was all new to me, but I quickly realized the numbers actually hadn’t penetrated the public.

RR: Well, it’s actually pretty unscientific. We had a long wishlist of actresses based on their talent with voice-over work as well as their interest in the issue. From there we started putting out inquiries, which is basically a combination of wild ambition and relentlessness.

At the time my daughter was a year old, and I kept asking myself, ‘What will the world look like for our children?’ I knew I wanted to do something. The global poverty research ended but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Until finally I was like, ok, I guess I’m doing this. MO: So, your daughter helped inspire you to make this film. How old is she now? RR: Actually, she turned nine just last week [early in October]. I’ve been working on this project for a long time. The issue was much less visible six-seven years ago. But some remarkable events brought it into the general consciousness and we’re lucky enough to be riding a wave. Girls’ education is where global warming was 15 years ago. People are paying attention now. MO: Besides being a film eight years in the making, why does “Girls Rising” stand out among other documentaries? RR: There are two things that were really crucial to me when we were making this movie. I knew it wasn’t enough to just make this film. For all the money we were trying to raise there had to be a campaign beside it. It’s common practice in the documentary world to stay small and humble. You’re cautioned against being too ambitious, or biting off more than you can chew. We took the opposite approach. If I had just made the film it would not have been enough, and if this issue doesn’t deserve it – what does? 10x10 – our global campaign to educate and empower girls – was the part that has really truly paid off. My other goal was to make a film where the girls did not appear as victims. I wanted the audience to feel inspired and amazed by them. I mean, as human beings they have enormous potential. So often, documentaries focus on differences. For example, when we show kids going to school in Cambodia, the audience tends to notice what’s different, but what’s really important is to notice how much they’re just like us. We tried really hard to make a film that wasn’t just a bunch of white people going into to a poor country and feeling sorry for the people there. We had to be constantly vigilant to keep

40 | Meets Obsession Magazine  The Art Issue

For a lot of actresses it’s about getting on their radar and also getting their management behind it. And of course, signing the first star is the hardest. MO: So, who was the first to sign on for the project? RR: Meryl Streep. And once she was in we started getting a lot more interest. Starting with an A-lister really helped the cause. [Streep narrates the part of Ethiopia’s Azmera]. Also, some of our character always had clear voices in my head. Specifically, Wadley from Haiti she always had a certain voice– I don’t know why. [That voice belongs to Cate Blanchett who is Wadley’s narrator.] MO: Did you meet with all nine girls in the film? RR: Between the entire team, we met all the girls. But I don’t think any one person on our team met with all the girls. I met all but two of them. I knew it was going to be difficult – as a middle-aged American to get the girls to connect with me. Actually, I was like the only man on the crew everyone else in the field were women. The writers [all of which whom were female] were the essential bridges. We wanted them to work very closely with the girls. MO: Interesting. To be honest, when I learned that a man was the director of “Girls Rising,” I was pretty skeptical. So how would you respond to the criticism that a movie for and about women should be directed by one? RR: It was definitely a liability, having me as the director, especially when we were first fundraising. But, in a way, as a male director, I do think I brought something to this project. It’s important that there are strong male role models in the film, and in life. The greater issue of girls’ education can’t be tackled without men and it means a lot that there are great fathers and brothers in the film. It’s almost bigger than that. MO: As a director and a man, why do you feel like this film needed to be made? RR: Clearly, there’s a sort of moral, rights based altruistic reason for why every girl-woman has the right to education. If you don’t already believe that, then this film isn’t going to change your mind. The movie’s more compelling argument is that time and time again educating girls really seems to work in ending poverty. It’s an argument for advocacy.

We’re saying we know this works and there’s a history that proves it. This isn’t a problem like the AIDS epidemic or global warming where we’re searching for a solution. We already have an answer. Not to say it isn’t tremendously hard to do, but we know what good schools and good teachers look like. And that’s the message behind “Girls Rising.” We’ve made progress and we’ve seen it work over and over again. It’s just not enough. And that’s our argument: ‘More! We need more of that.’ On a human level, people are so desperate to be told that something works. We’ve been culturally brainwashed that these problems are unsolvable. So we let ourselves get in the mindset that it’s too big for any of us to do something about it. I think that message – that there is something we can do – is really powerful. MO: Why should people see this movie? RR: Luckily, I think it’s a good movie just on its own merit. Engaging and entertaining- it’s an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. And we tried really hard not to make it a downer. And it’s a hugely important issue. The movie really crystallizes the issue. As an audience member I think you can go from people who care and do nothing to people who do something. I’ve seen it over and over again. A few weeks after our Atlanta screening we – 10x10 – received a check in the mail for $460. These two kids who’d seen the movie were so inspired to do something they had a bake sale and sent us the profits.

with a great feeling. MO: What was your biggest takeaway from this project? RR: Wow, that’s the first time I’ve been asked that question. I came away with this feeling... this belief in the community of man. I know – it sounds trite, but it’s so easy for us to fall into nationalism. People kept asking us why we weren’t focusing on girls in America and why we didn’t think American girls were more important. There are so many things we could all be doing, but aren’t because of barriers that don’t really exist. There’s nothing separating us from each other – other than miles and language – but we’re all people. Before this film I thought it would be hard to make connections with people different from me, but it wasn’t. I don’t know how you talk about the family of man without sounding like a new age hippy. But I know that if you tell yourself that those people are different and far away it enforces these barriers that separate us. But as my producer, Martha Adams, always called me I was always the “reluctant enthusiast”. She, however, was the opposite and enthusiastic from the jump. I hope this film continues to have a life in this world – there’s a lot more to do and I want to keep it moving. n

There are a ton of good reasons, but the movie leaves you ........................................................ PHOTO: GIRL RISING © 2013



Heineken Mural Project at Blind Whino Arts Club The Heineken Mural Project VIP Launch Event was held at DC’s newest venue, Blind Whino, an old church that was converted into a venue for all things art, including exhibits, classes, workshops, and of course, parties. The venue alone is a work of art. Its exterior is decorated with a bright, abstract mural, and inside the 25,000 square ft space, each room features walls covered in modern artwork by leading graffiti and street artists. Photos: Woolif Fotog

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Arts Edition Nuit Blanche at The Wonder Bread Factory Art took the forefront of the nightlife scene at DC’s Art All Night Festival. Over a dozen venues in the Shaw District participated in the annual free art extravaganza filled with exhibits, live art, music and parties– including one grandiose event held by Art Soiree Productions, AFDC, Eighty Eight DC, SPAIN arts & culture, Art All Night and Cultural Tourism DC at the Wonder Bread Factory. Photos: Darque Room Images



Profile for Obsessed Magazine

The Art Issue  

Meets Obsession Magazine | November 2013

The Art Issue  

Meets Obsession Magazine | November 2013