The WANT Women: Erin Bagwell on Determination, Depression, and Dreaming Big

The WANT Women: Erin Bagwell on Determination, Depression, and Dreaming Big

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As a brand new New Yorker (well…I’m getting there!), I’m realizing now more than ever the power in the pack. Whether it’s a group of tight-knit friends or just familiar faces walking through the gym, I feel the most productive, passionate, and generaly my very best self when I am surrounded by like-minded souls. Call it a tribe, call it a community, call it whatever you want – there is so much that comes to life, both within and outside us, when we find our peeps.

For my entire adult life, I’ve been searching for that thing to call my own. When WANT was born, it was like finding a piece of myself I didn’t know was able to exist. I wanted to be a leader, but didn’t want to be my then-boss. I wanted to help women be their fullest, most actualized selves, but I didn’t want to be a “life coach.” I wanted to write, to speak, to make, to shift, but I didn’t want to be a “freelancer.” I only knew how I wanted to feel, what I wanted to shift, and why I knew I needed to do it. I was craving a space to create major change – but I didn’t know how it would come to life.

A big part of this? I wasn’t seeing or hearing stories of women like me – women who wanted to create, expand, and flourish…on their own terms.

Oh how I wish the messages and mission in Dream, Girl had been around to carry with me in my back pocket during that intense (and confusing!) period of my life.


Dream, Girl is a documentary that tells the inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs and CEOs in order to empower the next generation of girl bosses to dream bigger. It follows the stories of these amazing, ambitious women who work in everything from brand new startups to million dollar industries. The Dream, Girl mission is all about showing girls what it means to be a leader, not just telling them they can be anything they want and leaving it there.

You might remember meeting Dream, Girl’s producer Komal on the WANTcast earlier this year.

Today, just one week shy of Dream, Girl’s official premiere, we’re diving in and digging deep with Dream, Girl’s director and creator, Erin Bagwell.
I wish that more women became their own role models. - @erinebagwell, @dreamgirlfilm Click To Tweet
Erin is a feminist blogger and filmmaker from Brooklyn. After founding Feminist Wednesday, a feminist storytelling blog, and conducting numerous interviews with female founders and CEOS, she realized there was a huge gap to fill when it came to inspiring women to be bolder, bet higher, and truly blaze their own path. The idea for Dream, Girl was born – and after raising over $100K on Kickstarter in less than one month, Erin, Komal, and the Dream, Girl team were officially making moves.

Fast forward to today, and Dream, Girl has been covered by Forbes, Upworthy, The Huffington Post, Fox Business, Elle Magazine, and more. Erin and Komal have been featured by Clinique in their #smartideas campaign in partnership with TED. And if that wasn’t enough, the final product has been screened at the freaking White House – all before its official premiere at the Paris Theater in NYC on June 9th.

Watching Erin’s dream come to life has inspired me in a way I’ve never been inspired before: here is a woman around my age, who thinks like me, talks like me, and dreams like me. Here is a woman who had a seed of an idea and the bravery to put in the heavy lifting to make it blossom. Here is a woman who is badass to the bone, inclusive to the core, and maybe most importantly, believes in what is possible when we believe in not only each other, but ourselves.
My body is my center, my shell, my gift wrap, my powerhouse. -@erinebagwell, @dreamgirlfilm Click To Tweet
Being a woman is like being a part of a collective. We’re not just forces to be reckoned with, we’re leaders in our own right who are able to shift the world by working in unison. We are inherently inclusive by nature, although the society we live in sometimes seems like it would rather us exclude others and compete for space. Dream, Girl shows us our fellow women, our fellow tribemates, our fellow LEADERS, all defining their own hustle and lifting other women up with them along the way.

WANT to attend the world premiere next week? Click here for all the deets. Until then…



Name: Erin Bagwell

How you’d know me (occupation or role): Founder of Feminist Wednesday (a feminist storytelling blog powered by beavers) & the Director of Dream, Girl (the documentary showcasing the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs)

What I love about myself (and why): My determination and ability to get things accomplished. I don’t spend a lot of time questioning myself or why I want to do something – I just do it.

What is your definition of “positivity?” Being grateful.

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” I’m constantly discovering and exploring self-love. I make it a practice to try to find things that inspire and keep me passionate, which gravitates me towards a lot of love.

How/where negative talk shows up in my life: When I stop doing the work and start questioning if I’m the person who should be doing it.

When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… About financial instability and money.

When others talk negatively about themselves… I tune it out :-p

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It baffles me that women still… Get paid less, get objectified, fear walking home at night, get genitally mutilated, become child brides, fear being a woman.

I wish that more women… Became their own role models.

The coolest thing about women is… That their stories are still waiting to be unearthed.

My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: To be grateful for what I have.

My top female role models: My mother and my business partner Komal Minhas

Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… I think it depends who the man is and what his role is in her life. I think negative talk stems from a personal burden or scar that one must heal on her own, so just listening and being supportive and not judgmental would be nice?

Favorite negativity-busting activity: Meditating

Fave self-love ritual: Getting my nails done

Favorite feel-good food(s): Ramen or french fries

Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Sex & the City (not a movie but my favorite thing to turn on anytime)

Favorite empowering book(s): Big Magic, The life-changing magic of tidying up

My feel-good playlist: No Nets

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Advice I would give my
…4 year old self: keep crushing
…14 year-old self: depression isn’t something you should be ashamed of
…24 year old self: keep looking for what inspires you

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:
– have a child
– win an oscar
– buy a house
– make a million dollars
– produce 20 films in my lifetime

My best tip on self love: Forgive yourself

When I truly love all of myself… I allow myself to have fun and be goofy

Right now, I am most excited about… FINISHING THIS MOVIE

My body is: My center, my shell, my gift wrap, my powerhouse

Three words to describe me: Creative, passionate, hard working

Current mantra: Let it go


WANT more Erin?
Attend the Dream, Girl premiere in NYC

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The WANT Women: Jessie Kahnweiler On Being Loud, Honest, And Here

The WANT Women: Jessie Kahnweiler On Being Loud, Honest, And Here

Body WANT Women

To those of us who have struggled with eating disorders, disordered tendencies, whatever you want to call them – many times the portrayal of eating disorders on tv and in film can hit closer to fiction than reality. They’re shown as what people think they’re like instead of what they’re actually like. They’re danced around and treated like cardinal sins, when in the moment a, say, binging episode, feels less like a stop-the-presses plot moment and more like a reaction akin to laughing or crying. Hell, from the outside, it can even look humorous.

Jessie Kahnweiler is at the front of the pack when it comes to the marriage of brutal honesty and brazen humor – a brilliant juxtaposition giving a voice to women’s experiences and issues normally pushed under the table.


In her Sundance-acclaimed short series The Skinny, Jessie plays herself, telling her own story of a fledgling YouTube star suffering from bulemia. Written and directed by Jessie herself (plus produced by Transparent/Six Feet Under’s Jill Soloway and Refinery29, where the entire series is available…nbd to all), The Skinny is darkly comedic and brutally honest.

As someone who’s struggled with eating issues, it’s like a deep, refreshing exhale to see them portrayed as a “normal” part of someone’s life (although in reality it’s anything but) instead of one uber-dramatic scene/plot point after the other. Lord knows when I was restricting, binging, portioning off 1/2-cup bags of All-Bran in my dorm room, etc, none of it felt like a dramatic climax. It felt like a routine part of my life. And eventually, like I life I realized I so desperately wanted to break free from.

And that’s what Jessie does: she depicts the life of a woman whose “normal” has gone so awry, it’s started to affect who she is out in the world. 

I am terrified to fail, but I do it anyway - on a daily basis. - @jesskahnweiler Click To Tweet


Some parts of The Skinny are hard to stomach – no pun intended – but strangely enough (or not?), most of them aren’t the ED parts. They’re the parts when she’s dealing with her mother who knows needs mothering herself, when she’s getting torn apart by potential brand partners for being “too real” or being side-eye’dly told how “out there” her work is, when she’s hoping to be accepted and loved and it goes downhill fast. Because these feelings of self-consciousness and longing to be loved are universal: it’s just that someone with an eating disorder like bulemia deals with them differently.
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What I love about Jessie is that she is somehow able to do the undoable. She is able to infuse wisdom and humor into tough topics without tearing down others or shutting people out in the meantime. She walks that fine line between self aware, self righteous, self sacrificing, and ever-so-slightly self deprecating so incredibly well, making her sketches and short films able to resonate on a level that sticks with you for the long haul. She tells her stories with humor – because as she noted in this awesome interview with Indiewire, her reality 100% includes humor.

Three words to describe me: Loud. Honest. HERE. - @jesskahnweiler Click To Tweet

She does not discount the seriousness of the issues at hand – rather, she brings a reality to them that might, in other hands, seem more like an over-dramatization. What Jessie does as a filmmaker and feminist is the exact opposite of over-dramatization: she uses humor as a gateway to shine the spotlight on issues we usually, as a culture, dance around. She’s telling the story not of her suffering, but ultimately of her road to recovery. And yes – humor played a part in that.


The more of us willing to be bold and tell our stories without giving into the temptation of shame, the better off we are as a whole. Girls. Transparent. Heck, most of us forget that even Sex And The City was shocking at the time! Some of these stories might not be easy to watch or easy to understand – but the point is not for it to be EASY to understand. The point is that these are stories of real women – women who differ from the mainstream media image of what a woman is, who most all of us are not but most all of us at some point think we should be.

These are women whose stories we’re all better off for hearing – and ultimately, with the help of women like Jessie opening the door to the work of radical empathy, better off for really, truly, deeply understanding.


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Name: Jessie Kahnweiler

How you’d know me: Filmmaker, Feminist, that loud chick you sat behind in Hebrew school.

What I love about myself (and why): That I’m not afraid to fail. Well…I am terrified to fail, but I do it anyway – on a daily basis.

What is your definition of “positivity?” Self-acceptance. Keeping it real with yourself and giving yourself a break.

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” When I got into recovery for my eating disorder and realized that I am not the center of the universe and that perfection is not human.

How/where negative talk shows up in my life: When I feel overwhelmed with work and boys. When I don’t get enough alone time.

When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… Telling myself that I am not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, sexy enough, chill enough – ENOUGH.


When others talk negatively about themselves… It’s frustrating because it hits close to home. Does not make me want to go on a second date.

It baffles me that women still… Blame our bodies for everything.

I wish that more women… were running D.C.

The coolest thing about women is… Our collective spirit – the divine feminine energy that effortlessly pours from us.

My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Write the shit out of it.

My top female role models: My Grandmothers Ruth and Lucille, Eleanor Roosevelt, and my older sister Lindsey – who is a nurse practitioner, mother, wife, runner, and totally rocked a belly button ring before it was cool.

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Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… Giving us space to feel. To just be.


Favorite negativity-busting activity: Asking ANYONE besides myself “How are you doing?”

Fave self-love ritual: Bubble bath. Masturbate. Netflix.

Favorite feel-good food(s): Beer!

Favorie movie or TV show to watch when I’m feeling down: Love and Basketball; Center Stage

Favorite empowering book(s): Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters – A tough important read that rocked me to my core.


My feel-good playlist: A little Kendrick Lamar and a lot of Drake

Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: Take advantage of nap time
…14 year-old self: Don’t rush to have sex
…24 year old self: Don’t fake orgasms – it helps no one!

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: Marry Drake. Create my own television show. Create foundation for young women to make movies about whatever they want. Be half as cool as my Grandma.

My best tip on self love: Breathe. Show up for your feelings. All of them.

Breathe. Show up for your feelings. All of them. - @jesskahnweiler Click To Tweet

When I truly love all of myself… I am connected spiritually to what’s beyond me.

Right now, I am most excited about… The great unknown.

My body is: A gift that keeps on giving.

Three words to describe me: Loud. Honest. HERE.

Current mantra: It’s impossible for you to fuck it up.


WANT more Jessie?
The Skinny on Refinery29

Photo credits: Patrick Gookin

The WANTcast, Episode 009: On Showing Up + Throwing Down with Producer Komal Minhas of Dream, Girl

The WANTcast, Episode 009: On Showing Up + Throwing Down with Producer Komal Minhas of Dream, Girl

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Woah-man. This episode is a goodie. And a prime example of things happening exactly the way they’re supposed to, exactly when they’re supposed to.

Last year, I received a message in my inbox about a new documentary raising funds on Kickstarter. To be completely honest, I don’t usually pay super-close attention to Kickstarter…as there is just so much out there, I run the risk of being constantly overwhelmed with things and projects and causes I want to help bring to life.

But this one got under my skin.

A few years back, a documentary called Miss Representation came along and completely shook up (in a good way!) women everywhere. It was POWERFUL. I watched, rewatched, re-rewatched, and waited for more and more documentaries and films like this to start flooding into this huge wonderful gap that had just been discovered.

They didn’t.

There were a few gems along the way (see show notes), but still, I craved a documentary that shone a light on the kinds of women I longed to be like: ambitious, creative, purpose-driven people making a difference in the world. Even as I watched documentaries on other subjects I was interested in, I started to notice a startling pattern: the majority of experts featured, talked about, talking, etc…were men. Mostly white. Mostly older.

Where were the faces and voices of feminine strength, gusto, and diversity? Where were the examples of all ages being recognized for their talents and knowledge, not their demographic or years on this planet?

Apparently, they were all filming Dream, Girl.

Dream, Girl is an upcoming documentary that tells the inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs and CEOs in order to empower the next generation of girl bosses to dream bigger. It’s the spotlight we’ve been searching for, the examples we’ve been craving, and the stories we’ve longed for for far too long.

All this is being produced by Komal Minhas, an Indo-Canadian film producer, writer, and investor. Komal’s company KoMedia Inc. is passionate about telling the stories/improving the lives of women and girls globally – and her latest gig producing and co-founding Dream, Girl with her business partner and DG director (and bona-fide girl boss badass) Erin Bagwell is about to make some serious waves.
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03 - Komal on Set

In this episode, we talk about the sort of feminist renaissance we’re having at the moment and why this point in time matters, going big and making your dream your reality, the health challenge Komal’s been facing in the mist of producing this dream project and how to take care of yourself when things get tough, mentorship, being ballsy – and maybe my favorite part of this episode, making friends as an adult and the power of female friendships (I may or may not have cried a smidge during this part).

She is beautiful, inside and out, and even though this was literally our VERY first time talking, I already feel like I have a new friend. And I feel like that’s part of Komal’s magic – her magnetism, enthusiasm, and inclusive personality combined with a drive you can hear in her voice.


The film is set to release in the spring of 2016, but the amount of momentum behind this film right now is absolutely extraordinary. To some people it might make more sense to run this closer to the film, but I wanted to give you a first look so you can get on the action before it hits big and trust me, IT WILL HIT BIG.
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05 - Komal + Erin Dream, Girl Trailer Launch Party


Play in new window | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon (just by doing what you already do)

Komal’s website
Dream, Girl
Erin Bagwell
Bous De Jong
Rowan Blanchard
Lenny Letter on endometriosis
Komal’s blog post on hypothyroidism and getting things checked out
Half The Sky
Miss Representation
India’s Daughter
WANTiversary party!

I'm just doing my best, and it's working out the way it needs to. -@KomalMinhas Click To Tweet

If WE don't take care of our body and our health, no one else will. -@KomalMinhas Click To Tweet

You never know if you don't ask. -@KomalMinhas Click To Tweet

Positivity is choosing love over fear. -@KomalMinhas Click To Tweet

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Komal’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!
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*rowan blanchard is 14, not 13. 14. but she said a lot of amazing things at 13. so it counts. so we’re not like 100% wrong.

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