+
More

How Amy Poehler's Smart Girls is empowering teens through gaming.

A glimpse into Amy Poehler's Smart Girls' empowering new series.

Have you heard of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls? Because if you haven't, you really should.

Poehler is a lot of things — an improviser, a Red Sox fan, a mom, a Hillary Clinton impersonator. But she's also a trailblazer. And there's no better proof of that than Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, a group committed to empowering girls to be ... well, whatever the heck they want to be (and to feel great being it).

Rock climber? Astronaut? CEO? Poehler says go for it, girl.


Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for TNT LA.

Smart Girls has done a lot of neat things and started many important conversations since it originally launched as a web series, Smart Girls at the Party, back in 2008. But one of its latest endeavors, Smart Girls Build, is particularly notable as being freakin' sweet, as it's using a video game rooted in the virtual world to inspire actual girls living in the real one.

In the Smart Girls Build series, Poehler's Smart Girls teamed up with The Sims to let girls create their virtual selves.

Take, for instance, 13-year-old Californian Celeste Javier, who is the focus of the series' first episode. Among her many interests are dancing and playing with her (adorable) corgi pup.

All GIFs via Amy Poehler's Smart Girls/YouTube.

Javier got to visit the hub where the video game is created by publisher Electronic Arts (EA). In The Sims, users can create virtual versions of themselves and live out their dreams and aspirations (digitally, of course). And that's exactly what Javier got to do.

Yes, creating your digital self is fun. But to Smart Girls, the new series gets at a bigger issue: inspiring girls to live out their creative pursuits, and finding the role models to help.

The Sims might only be a virtual reality to gamers, but the positive effects of playing it can seep into the girls' real lives, according to Maggie Lyons, director of development at SmartGirls.

“Our motto is ‘Change the world by being yourself,'" Lyons explained to Upworthy. "These girls really do that in The Sims, and hopefully are inspired to do the same in their real lives.”

Just 26% of jobs in computing fields are held by women.

The series focuses on opening doors for girls who might be interested in merging their passions with technology, as well.

In another episode, 17-year-old guitarist Tcarla collaborated with a producer to create music in the game. Every EA producer in the series is a woman, and while that may seem inconsequential, it certainly isn't.

"We also wanted to highlight female gamers and game producers," Lyons said. "If girls see more women creating and participating in fields like gaming, they’re more likely to say to themselves, 'Oh, cool! I can do that too!'”

Javier created a Sim that not only looked like her, but had the same qualities and passions as well.

Javier made sure her virtual self, or Sim, had the same traits and talents as she does. In her Sim's world, there was a dance studio, which was perfect for Javier; she's been dancing for nine years and is now in a competitive hip-hop dance group.


Letting girls know they do have a place in tech is vital, and we've got a (very) long way to go.

According to a study released last year by the American Association of University Women, a mere 26% of jobs in computing fields are held by women. When you look at engineering jobs, it's an even more cringeworthy 12%. (And by the way, these figures get more dismal when you consider how women of color, specifically, are represented.)

Looking at the gender makeup at top tech companies confirms this sad reality, as The Huffington Post reported in March 2015.

"At Google, women make up 30% of the company's overall workforce, but hold only 17% of the company’s tech jobs. At Facebook, 15% of tech roles are staffed by women. At Twitter, it’s a laughable 10%. For non-technical jobs at Twitter (think marketing, HR, sales), the gender split is 50-50."

Yes, The Sims is just one video game, and it won't solve this problem overnight. But it's one smart step forward.

"People really seem to be responding to the positive message, how inspiring these incredibly bright girls are, and our encouragement of female gamers," Lyons said of feedback from the Build series. "One girl even told us that Tcarla inspired her to start playing the guitar, which is awesome!"

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.

Keep ReadingShow less

Writer/Director Richard Curtis and Emma Thompson

Since its release in 2003, the Christmas-themed rom-com "Love Actually" captured hearts and became one of the most beloved holiday films of all time. True to its title, the film celebrated love—all kinds of love—as it actually is, and managed to maintain optimism without being overly saccharine. This, coupled with a truly stellar ensemble, made it so well received among audiences, despite the mixed reviews from critics.

Nearly 20 years later, the film’s writer and director Richard Curtis (who also brought us "Notting Hill" and "Bridget Jones’ Diary") reflects back on why it might have meant so much to so many people. As an artist who has made a name for himself creating enduring love stories, perhaps it’s no surprise that he feels it’s something the world is in constant need of.

Keep ReadingShow less

A metal detector hobbyist looking for treasure on the beach.

Joseph Cook, 37, is a popular metal detectorist on social media where he shares videos of the many treasures he finds on Florida beaches. But what’s even more engaging than his finds is the incredible excitement he brings to the hobby. It’s like watching Steve Irwin, but with a Florida accent.

Not only is his attitude infectious but he also makes a point of doing good when he finds lost items. He wears a necklace around his neck with multiple rings that he’s found to remind him of his mission to return lost treasures.

Recently, he told SWNS that he dug up "the biggest diamond I ever found” on the beach. "When I first found it I thought it would just be a nickel, but then I dug it up and it was just this big old diamond and platinum ring," he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Helen Mirren via WikiCommons/Morgan Freeman via WikiCommons

Someone asked who the female voice of Morgan Freeman was

Celebrities are known for different things, they all seem to have their niche but Morgan Freeman has cemented his place as the ultimate recognizable voice. In fact, if you ask some people who the voice of God is, Freeman will come to mind with his deep distinctive voice.

When thinking back, there doesn't seem to be a woman's voice that you immediately associate with that divine superpower to captivate listeners. Before Freeman was the voice of God, there was James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader. With his deep hearty bass-like voice, even Jones' laugh is so distinctive that you automatically attribute it to him.

Someone on Reddit decided to find out what female actor people believed had the ability to instantly step into the shoes of someone like Freeman as far as voice is concerned. Some of the answers were pretty surprising while others, you can instantly see how they'd fall into that category.

Keep ReadingShow less