Filmmaker Roundtable Interview: Meredith Walker & “Amy’s Smart Girls” for Alamo Drafthouse Richardson’s “Tough Ladies of the Cinema”

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Written By: Gordon K. Smith

Count on the Alamo Drafthouse Dallas/Fort Worth for a groovy special event every month.  For November it’ was Tough Ladies of the Cinema,  and for their November 17th screening of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, the Alamo teamed up with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, an organization dedicated to helping young girls “change the world by being yourself” (the official motto), utilizing blogs, webisodes, special projects and initiatives.  Heading up the group with the Parks and Recreation star are co-founders Meredith Walker (Amy’s pal and former Saturday Night Live colleague) and musician Amy Miles.  Meredith joined Alamo’s programmer James Wallace for a roundtable discussion.

She spoke about how she and Amy Poehler conceived their movement during breaks on SNL. “We talked about a lot about the harder years for girls.  Those years are difficult for young people in general, but particularly for girls.  Around 2006 we got serious about saving girls with our organization.  Our first video episodes aired in 2008.  It does seem to resonate with girls…it started because we remembered when we were that age, and the older girls and women who weren’t our parents and teachers listened to us.  That was very powerful to us.  We thought that we could be like that.  The way to achieve that is to interview girls who weren’t overachieving, they were just interested in things, and curious about life.  When you’re interested in something your life becomes interesting and you become interesting.  Celebrating that was really important…when you tell people you can change the world by being yourself, that’s a very easy thing to say and hear, but not an easy thing to do.  It’s a lifelong quest.  We can be a helpful part of the exploration and discovery process of who you are… MOCKINGBIRD is such a great book and movie about that – who are you when you’re not being watched?  We curate and acquire ways to help that process.”

James added, “The Alamo is super-thrilled to partner with Smart Girls.  November has all been in support of Tough Ladies In Cinema and there is no tougher than Scout (the young heroine of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD).  Amy was cool enough to record a special and really cool video intro for our showing of MOCKINGBIRD, as if seeing it on the big screen screen wasn’t great enough..it’s one of those films that’s eternally classic, always relevant to a generation.  Out of all our amazing programming featuring tough ladies this month, I think this is the one that just fits what you guys are doing for sure…as much as we can, we add in an element of education, on film or a broader issue… It’s organizations like this one we love to partner with at Alamo, especially when the programming theme fits so well.  We love to bring attention to something as awesome as Smart Girls.”

Meredith described the webisodes and blogs that are featured on their site. “The most popular is Ask Amy, featuring Amy Poehler…We also do “Operation Nice”, our take on random acts of kindness.  You don’t have to sign up for The Peace Corps, here’s something you can do tomorrow.  That’s very popular with our older women.  “Boys Minute” – they send in something they’re interested in , which is usually comical since they’re the children of our comedian friends.  “Girls of the World” is our video penpal series.  And we do a lot of social programming, including our 10-day summer camp.  Watching the transformation of these girls, whether they come in super-tough or shy and timid, watching them ask each other questions…you can see them really come alive.  They’re shining all over.  When you put it into practice, from the videos into the real world, what a difference it makes.  We get emails from them or their parents saying that being taken seriously was amazing for them.  We see all the stats – everywhere people seem interested in this message, so I think world domination is next!”

For more on Amy’s Smart Girls, go directly to http://amysmartgirls.com.

The Alamo’s Tough Ladies of Cinema series continues this month with THE LADY EVE on Sunday, November 24 and FARGO on Tuesday, November 26.     For more info go to: http://drafthouse.com/dfw/richardson.

Additional  TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD screenings:

Sunday, November 24, 2013:

@AlamoKalamazoo – Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo MI 5:00p

@SA_drafthouse – Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stone Oak San Antonio, TX 3:30p

Saturday, November 23, 2013:

Alamo Drafthouse Ritz Austin, TX

Sunday, November 24, 2013:

Alamo Drafthouse Ritz

@AlamoNYC

Monday, November 25, 2013:

Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers

@alamowinchester

Tuesday, November 26, 2013:

Winchester  VA

@houstonalamo

Wednesday, November 27, 2013:

Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park

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