Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Gal Gadot Spotlights the Real Wonder Women
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Gal Gadot served for two years as sports trainer during her mandatory two years of military service with the Israeli Defense Forces—a very different experience from the one she was enjoying in this recently updated Facebook cover photo.
   
Monday, April 19, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Gal Gadot shot to stardom for her portrayal of Wonder Woman, for which she was praised as the symbol of empowerment and love.

Now, the Israeli actress, martial artist and 2004 Miss Universe contestant is shining the spotlight on real life wonder women in the new “National Geographic Presents: Impact with Gal Gadot.”

Gadot (pronounced Gall Guh-dote) was awarded the 2021 Vision Award by the Sun Valley Film Festival this past week. The award honors industry icons who provide keen insight, influence and initiative to see their creative visions come to fruition. And she gave the festival’s virtual audience a sneak preview of her upcoming National Geographic series in one of the Festival’s popular Coffee Talks.

“I’m so lucky to be part of an industry where the power of storytelling can create change in the world,” said Gadot, who will turn 36 on April 30. “I always remember that I’m just the girl from a Middle East who grew up in a small village named Rosh Ha’ayin that most of the world has never heard of, and I got an opportunity and the stars and everything just worked out for me.

“Portraying a character so many kids care about, I wanted to do something good with it. I’m always looking for the right opportunity to aim the camera at places where it’s dark and nobody knows about,” she added.

Gadot said she and her team began scouring the globe more than three years ago to find extraordinary stories of extraordinary women living in communities marred by violence, poverty, trauma, discrimination, oppression and natural disasters.

“One of our main goals was to show how we are all connected, how we all affect each other, how we all can inspire change, how we all can make an impact,” she said.

The first six stories, of which Gadot hopes there will be many more, focus on:

  • A 19-year-old woman who led college students in inventing a water filtration system to provide Puerto Ricans access to clean, drinkable water following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
  • A trauma counselor in Half Moon Bay, Calif., who turned the grief of losing her twin sister to COVID-19 into healing others through a surf therapy program for women suffering from the trauma of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault, and loss.
  • A 23-year-old ballet dancer who started a dance company to give young girls in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas hope and a safe space.
  • A 20-year-old Black figure skating coach in Detroit, who not only found success in the predominantly white world of figure skating but has since coached more than 250 young girls of color in the only dedicated black figure skating program in the nation. The idea, she said: To show them “you belong anywhere you want to be. You belong anywhere you choose to be. I’m doing it. You can do it too.”
  • The first female chief of a Louisiana coastal tribe that expects to be among the United States’ first climate refugees.
  • A Black transgender woman who rose above homelessness to build more than two dozen houses in Memphis for homeless transgender women.

“Her whole episode is about home to me,” said Gadot. “There’s something so complicated about being born in the wrong home, born in the wrong body. Then she embraces her true self, she’s homeless and deals with things on the street. And then she comes out of that. She has more lives than a cat. She’s had to deal with so many challenges that are heartbreaking, and now she’s helping other people like her and creating homes for them.”

The documentary shorts premiere today on National Geographic’s digital and social platforms and culminate in a full-length documentary special to premiere on the National Geographic channel in June 2021.

“I told these women: ‘You’re excited to be talking to me, but I’m excited to talk to you because you’re the real deal. You’re walking the walk,’ ” recounted Gadot.

Gadot says she wants the project to have a ripple effect to create a community of people doing better.

“We live in such dark times and the world is so divided and there’s so much hate and bad feelings,” she said. “Sharing these stories brings hope to my heart, the idea that the future is in good hands.”

Gadot, whose father is an engineer and whose mother is a teacher, made her film debut in the fourth “Fast and Furious” movie. She saw her stock shoot up as Wonder Woman in the 2016 “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” movie, for which she had to learn swordsmanship, Kung Fu kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training and other martial arts.

She reprised her role as Wonder Woman in the superhero mash-up “Justice League” and in “Wonder Woman 1984,” for which she donned the armor of an Amazon warrior to face off against Max Lord and Cheetah.

Her latest Wonder Woman movie, released in December 2020, became the most-watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 and she was nominated for Favorite Movie Actress by Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

Gadot told the Sun Valley Film Festival audience that her own heroes growing up included her mother, Madonna, Maya Angelou and Hillary Clinton.

Married to an Israeli businessman, she has two daughters and a third on her way.

There’ll be a lot to juggle, she acknowledges, considering she will star as Cleopatra in an upcoming film for Paramount Motion Pictures; in the lead role in “Heart of Stone,” an espionage thriller that will appear on Netflix; in Fox’s remake of “Death on the Nile,” alongside Kenneth Branagh; in the Netflix action thriller “Red Notice” opposite Dwayne “The Rock “ Johnson; in “My Dearest Fidel;” in a Showtime series based on the life and career of Hedy Lamarr and in the historical thriller “Irena Sendler,” depicting a nurse who served in the Polish Underground Resistance during World War II.

Given that, how will she stack up as Wonder Woman on the home front?

“I was told you give birth to a child and, as a working mother, you give birth to a bunch of guilt,” she said. “But I was told: You can only do your best. I hope my children will see me and be motivated to do what they’re passionate about.”

 

 

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