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WASHINGTON: Helping women, a tweet at a time
Question of the Day
Ms. Johnson said the film’s title, “A Powerful Voice,” is derived from the sense that “women are powerful and don’t want to remain silent any more.”
“They are ready to scream - scream for help, scream for rights, and scream at the world that it’s neglected them way too long. And it’s time they started hearing us,” she added.
In many countries, women are still the property of their husbands and fathers. CARE flyers cite statistics provided by the International Women’s Day Web site about the plight of women worldwide. For example, women do two-thirds of the world’s work but receive only 10 percent of the world’s pay. Nevertheless, women control $14 trillion in assets and this should grow to $22 trillion over the next 10 years.
Ms. Johnson, the co-founder and former co-owner of Black Entertainment Television, knows of what she speaks when it comes to finding innovative marketing tools not only to sell products but also to “buzz up” causes.
“People are tired of being talked to. They are very visual now. So, it’s all about marketing,” Ms. Johnson said. “It’s amazing what we are able to do through marketing to get the word out.”
By showing one $500,000 movie, she noted, organizations are able to save millions of dollars on awareness campaigns or congressional hearings and “we don’t have to have ongoing, long dialogues or long-term research.
“If people become engaged through movies, they become captive and immersed, so when they come out of the theater, hopefully they’ll be engaged,” she said. “I want all viewers to feel a part of this mission.”
Some might liken this type of documentary and fundraising event to the trend toward “filmanthrophy.”
According to one Web definition, filmanthrophy is the use of film - typically but not exclusively documentaries, “to raise awareness and money for a charity or cause. It can be thought of as a new tool for social change, philanthropy with a movie camera. Unlike other socially conscious documentaries, the projects in this genre are typically initiated and funded by people outside the film industry or who made their money outside the industry. Movies that are examples of filmanthropy include “Nanking” by Ted Leonsis; and “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Fast Food Nation” by Participant Productions (founded by Jeffrey Skoll, formerly of eBay).”
Ms. Johnson insists that providing equality for all will eradicate poverty. She is results-oriented and always finds avenues to link one of her social causes with another. For examples, through the Jackie Robinson Foundation she provides funds for a half-dozen students to volunteer for CARE. Through her board membership for the Parsons School of Design, she takes staff and students to Guatemala to work with women there to produce fashion accessories.
If it’s one thing the Obama administration could do that would please her, it would be to “take a look at USAID and revamp it and bring (NGOs) together” to cut down on duplication of services.
“There is too much money going out the door. Donors are tired of throwing money without results. I know. I’m hands-on. I’ve been out there and seen what is happening.”
For Ms. Johnson, her philanthropy “goes beyond writing a check,” saying “I enjoy making money so I can give it away to help people.”
Ms. Johnson could kick back and “just chill” with her cool millions earned. Sometimes she even asks herself, “Am I crazy? I could be sitting on the porch watching my horses and sipping a glass of wine.” That scene would dissolve from her Middleburg, Va., estate with her second husband, Arlington County Circuit Court Chief Judge William T. Newman.
“If my foundation hadn’t lost so much money in the stock market, there’s a lot more I’d want to do,” she said. “There must be something in my DNA that drives me to help people.”
About the Author
By Michael P. Orsi
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