It's not uncommon for a movie buff to admire a certain character, but it's not often that a die-hard fan actually lives up to a big-screen hero. That's exactly what Jacki Zehner is doing. With Wonder Woman on the big screen, she's making every effort to take the idea of Diana Prince into the real world.
After working as a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs, Zehner decided to devote her life to helping women and girls. All the while, she professed her love for Wonder Woman, collecting memorabilia embodying everything that the superhero stands for. Now, she's working as the Cheif Engagement Officer of Women Moving Millions, a non-profit organization that provides resources for mobilizing women across the world as well as holding a position on the Sundance Women's Institute, serving as President of the Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, and working as an executive producer on Refinery29's Shatterbox film, 50/50.
Zehner explains that while she was growing up, she noticed a lack of powerful female characters in the media. That's why she gravitated towards Wonder Woman and continues to see the character as an important symbol today. She says that she spent years working to get the film made, going as far as establishing a Facebook group to promote the impact of Wonder Woman back in 2013 and start a petition to get the film made.
"It is more than a movie, it a sign of progress. Big progress," Zehner told Refinery29. "For the past 20 years, I have been an all out champion for women’s rights and inclusion. Seeing the film made me believe that big change is possible in my lifetime."
She wasn't satisfied with just telling film executives why Wonder Woman is so important. She says she actually quit her job at Goldman Sachs to write a superhero screenplay, not long after Warner Bros. began development on the Wonder Woman film in 2001. "I want this movie to be the one that puts Hollywood executives on notice that they can no longer ignore the buying power of women," Zehner wrote.
Zehner decided to live out the ideals of the character herself, devoting her life to fighting for women's issues, being an angel investor for women-led businesses, and working as an executive producer on films that focus on quality and women's rights.
All that hard work got Zehner an invitation from Wonder Woman's producers to meet Gal Gadot, the on-screen Wonder Woman, at the film's L.A. premiere. She didn't stop there, though. After the star-studded event, Zehner was back at work in her hometown along with Amy Rees Anderson, arranging for a private screening of the film in Utah. The pair bought out a theater and invited members of their Utah Wonder Woman networking group, with proceeds benefitting their partners, the Utah Film Center.
After all this time waiting, Zehner found it hard to pick a favorite part of the movie. "There are so many parts, but I mainly enjoyed the funny ones," Zehner told Refinery29. One of her favorites was when Steve (Chris Pine) introduces Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to his secretary. When she asks the secretary does, she replies that she does whatever Steve tells her to do. "Where I come from that is called slavery," Wonder Woman deadpans.
As Zehner points out, Wonder Woman isn't simply a female hero. DC Entertaine is currently headed up by a woman, this film is directed by a woman, and the cast of the movie is largely female.
"To Wonder Women everywhere, this is my call to arms," Zehner writes. "It's a call to everyone, but in particular, I'm calling out to women that this is the one to show up for. Even if superheroes aren't your thing, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you would like to see more women on the big screen and more talented women directors having their shot at $100 million budgets."
There's no denying that not all superheroes wear capes (Wonder Woman certainly doesn't), and Zehner shows that there's no stopping hard work and dedication. It's something Diana Prince would get behind.
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