*Originally published on Much Ado About Cinema
Being only the fifth woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as a director, Greta Gerwig’s work and accomplishments have had a monumental impact on women across all industries. But, Lady Bird‘s highest nominations offer a deeper significance for a group of women I am proud to be a part of. Like Gerwig, I am a St. Francis High School alumna, an all-girls, Catholic high school in Sacramento, California. As St. Francis Troubadours, aka Troubies, we were taught that we would one day change the world, whether it be in STEM or the arts. Seeing other girls doing such amazing things as teenagers only made me eager to see what I, and the young women I went to school with, would do as adults.
Somewhere along the way, between graduating and starting college, the realization that the St. Francis journey with Troubie sisters is complete hits, and doubt begins to creep into the greatness I, and fellow Troubies, felt destined for. Coming from such a supportive community to then emerge into environments that may not be as encouraging can be disheartening and make it difficult to remain focused on the goal. Then, Lady Bird changed everything. Gerwig’s acclaimed film didn’t just give former St. Francis students a movie that insanely replicated our experience with our classmates and another reason to have Troubie Pride. She gave us clarity. Someone who is from the same place, went to the same high school, chose her class mascot, and had the same dreams as fellow St. Francis alumnae created something that has impacted every audience and changed the stereotypical stories told in film. Gerwig made it clear, intentionally or not, that our impact at St. Francis was only the beginning and that we will change the world in whatever way we choose. And her Troubie sisters couldn’t be more proud.
Karoline, class of 2017: “Greta Gerwig’s success is monumental and personal. As a St. Francis alum myself and as someone who comes from the same neighborhood, to see someone who holds the same values of the Sacramento and St. Francis communities become so acknowledged empowers me to channel those values in my endeavors just as Gerwig did with her film. The strong female roles in her film mirror the strong females I have encountered throughout my life, especially at St. Francis, and her success with the film means to me that my own experiences will amount to something, and can be used to empower others, especially women. “
Jordan, class of 2016: “The amount of growth, hard work, and dedication she has given the entertainment industry after all these years proves that if you stay true to your heart and what you know, you will eventually be heard. For me, wanting to go into film, it’s great to see that sticking to your roots and what you know can still bring success. I have looked up to her as a role model ever since she was coming back to watch our school productions and talk to students on campus. I am always happy to see women break down barriers and succeed against all odds.”
Brooke, class of 2016: “It’s honestly such a cool experience. I’ve always watched the Oscars and stuff like that but I’ve never been invested because I’ve never seen any of the films. But Lady Bird feels like my baby. I feel like that’s how a lot of us feel. It’s like my child and I’m watching it grow up and I want her to succeed. And Greta is such an inspiration. It puts into perspective how far I can go in the profession I choose. It’s almost surreal every time they say Sacramento because I’m like “AYYYY.” And, honestly, it’s the first time I’ve been proud (?) to have gone to St. Francis/ catholic school. The movie shed it in a good light and now I’m like yeah I went to the school that Lady Bird is based on”
Gabriella, class of 2016: “I think it’s so amazing to see a fellow SF alum reach this level of success with her film, Lady Bird. The film is raw and honest and describes real-life high school experiences that oftentimes films leave out, and it was so cool to see such a great film like this directed by someone who came from the same place as me! Her portrayal of growing up in Sacramento is spot-on in so many ways and I am so proud to have such a special connection to this amazing film!”
Ann, class of 2017: “As a fellow alum of St. Francis, it’s incredibly inspiring to see one of us achieve such success in her field of work. At St. Francis we were taught to be confident in our abilities, more so than public high school students, and I think these nominations are evidence of what this extra care can do. Not only did the film resonate with us St. Francis Troubadours of the present and past, but obviously hit home with enough people to be this successful. Congrats, Greta.”
Sophia, class of 2016: “Seeing Greta Gerwig not only achieve such acclaim for her movie but also do so with such humility and grace has been really amazing. The film itself not only reminded me of where I came from, but why I love it. It has also made people in Boston actually know where Sacramento is. Now when I say I’m from there it’s not “oh, how close is that to LA?” It’s “oh my gosh, have you seen that new movie?!” Greta Gerwig’s success has also made me feel like my dreams are much more achievable. Coming from a smaller town, it can sometimes feel like you exist in a bubble and that success is meant only for the anointed few. Now I look at where I can be in 10-20 years and what I once thought was impossible are now things that I absolutely believe are possible. I have actually thought to myself “if Greta Gerwig did it, so can I”’
Julia, class of 2017: “What a gal. Greta’s got this authentic presence that shows the incredibly genuine love she has for her work. It’s so refreshing and makes me have so much Troubie and Sac pride I don’t really have the words to express it. Thinking about how she, just like every other SF Alum, probably listened to [Mr.] Norman’s rambling sessions and put on that lovely skirt every morning and lost her voice during homecoming week— it makes you realize how turning your goals into a reality has nothing to do with where you start, but everything to do with how hard you work at them. And Lady Bird is nothing short of proof; I can’t wait to see what she does next.”
Taylor, class of 2017: “Honestly, I feel very privileged and proud to be from the same school as Greta and to have found her work so relatable. Lady Bird brilliantly portrays the high school experience as well as our journeys into adulthood. Having this film made in such an impactful place to SF alums such as myself was very inspirational and eye-opening to my personal journey during this time in my life and is something I can positively reflect on and be proud of where I came from.”
Kathryn, class of 2016: “As a current Saint Francis alum who was heavily involved in theater there and is currently majoring in the performing arts, Greta Gerwig’s success with Lady Bird has been a huge inspiration. As we face a time where the recognition of the arts is at a low, it is encouraging to know that not only an artist has made such a huge impact on our minds, but also a female leader and imaginative from Sacramento. This gives hope not only to me, but to many in the community, to keep creating and expressing the values that we have learned and shared together, and to not let anything stop us from reaching our own dreams.”
Zoe, class of 2015: “Going to St Francis High School, we were told that we could accomplish anything. And this is exactly how I felt. At St. Francis, I climbed to the top of the technical theater department and taught the underclassmen that they could break stereotypes and rule the world. Then, I went away to college. My safety bubble was burst and I was reminded how much women (and those presenting in feminine ways) are looked down upon. At St. Francis, I felt I had gained amazing leadership skills, yet one glance at a particular young man and that all disappeared. When working on projects, all the women were ignored. My voice was not heard and I was stripped of my confidence. I began to think that women weren’t able to break through “the wall of male-domination”. Here’s where Greta comes in. This beautiful soul has touched my life and the lives of so many. Her success is an incredible message to the United States: we are here and we will not stop. Greta has proved that not only can women break “the wall”, people want to hear stories about women! Real, raw stories. There’s no life-changing makeover or losing weight to get a guy. All there is is the expression of being young women and how incredible female relationships are. Greta’s success has reminded me of how women can accomplish anything and that we matter.”
Greta did it, and we can, too.
Through my eyes,
Sydney, class of 2017 ❤