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Joy

Chris Hemsworth's 'Limitless' series is a surprising celebration of female power

No fanfare or feminist pronouncements—just impressive woman after impressive woman being highlighted.

chris hemsworth, limitless

Chris Hemsworth highlighted women who mastered the challenges he undertook in "Limitless."


Judging by his physique, Chris Hemsworth already appears to be a person who pushes himself to the limit. The guy convincingly plays Thor, the Norse god of thunder, for the love.

But even Hemsworth, with his bulging biceps and sleek six-pack, is bound by the laws of human nature, which include pesky limitations like fear and aging. Now that he's in his 40s, the Australian actor, husband and father of three wants to maximize his time on Earth. So in a six-part series on Disney+, he pushed himself to the brink in six different challenges to "discover how to live better for longer."

The titles of each episode—"Stress Proof," "Shock," "Fasting," "Strength," "Memory" and "Acceptance"—offer a glimpse of what kinds of challenges he undertook in his quest for optimal existence.


The series trailer shows some of what Hemsworth endured in these challenges, from doing a polar swim in the Arctic to walking a plank on top of a high rise to climbing a rope to a cable car dangling over a deep ravine.

What the series descriptions and trailer don't show is how many of the real-life examples of people who have mastered what he's trying to do are women.

I watched the series expecting that it would be well done and interesting, as most National Geographic specials are, but I kind of figured it would be a big testosterone fest. And it easily could have been created that way.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the people Hemsworth met with to learn about how to prepare himself for each challenge were largely women who had already mastered what he was attempting. And the best part was, it was never pointed out directly. There was no big "female power" pronouncement, no indication that women were going to serve as his mentors for much of the series. But the featuring of women was noticeable and notable.

For instance, in the first episode, "Stress Proof," Hemsworth takes on the challenge of walking across a crane jutting out from the top of a high-rise building. Despite his daring feats on screen, Hemsworth has a fear of heights, so this challenge was particularly stressful.

To explore how to manage the stress of the crane walk, Hemsworth shared the impressive abilities of Faith Dickey, a mountain climber and highlining champion who walks across slacklines hung between cliffs. She shared how she learned to make stress her friend and channel it, as well as how she utilizes self-talk to make it across a narrow strip of fabric suspended hundreds of feet above the ground.

She even once did it in heels:

Following the Dickey example, Hemsworth met with a group of firefighters at a training facility in New South Wales to learn how to control his breath and heart rate under duress. He was teamed up with 16-year veteran firefighter Tara Lal to enter a burning building in full gear and attempt to "rescue" dummies from the inferno. Firefighting is a highly male-dominated career field, yet they chose a woman to be Hemsworth's mentor. Love it.

In addition to the specific skill mentors, the psychologist who helped Hemsworth through his preparation for the stress walk was also a woman, Dr. Modupe Akinola.

Each episode featured women who shared their wisdom and experience with Hemsworth, from all around the world. A Finnish woman who cuts holes in the ice and swims under it. A British American freediver who can hold her breath underwater for six minutes. The Indigenous women and girls who run through the rocky mountainsides of Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico. The 85-year-old weight-training African American woman who could inspire anyone to exercise. And the list goes on and on.

The diversity of people of all ages and ethnicities highlighted in the series, as well as the high proportion of awesome women, creates a far more well-rounded exploration of better and longer living than the "Chris Hemsworth does these six hard things, look at him go" entertainment one might expect based on the trailer. The understated representation is well done and very much appreciated.

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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