An innovative writer and director, Genevieve has dedicated her career to making films that tell stories of diverse and marginalised communities. She is the co-founder of a not-for-profit film company and creative agency, and has a heap of awards under her belt – including NSW Young Australian of the Year in 2015. She has been leading the way for inclusive film and media production ever since she made her first film at 18 years old. Here are Genevieve’s words to her teen self.
Don’t worry. Hair grows. I know you wanted a cute flicky haircut like Rachael Leigh Cook in the 2001 flop Josie and the Pussycats, but the hairdresser cut it too short. While it feels like the world is over right now, in a few months it will grow. This is one example of a problem which won’t matter in the long run. The next time you face a problem, remember hair always grows. Things change. And the problems you face at this age, while they feel all-consuming, are blips!
Year 11. Congratulations, you never thought you’d make it to the HSC, but look at you go. Despite the turbulence you’ve faced, including harassment at school for the last few years and rough stuff at home, you have kept going. You’re incredibly resilient, did you know that? And I’m so grateful to you. The decisions you’ve been making to keep going, to protect yourself, create boundaries and focus on school has meant that your future is thriving.
While you’re defying your own expectations at the moment, staying in school with the hopes of going to university, I still don’t think you fully realise what you’re capable of. You never thought you’d run two businesses, did you? The idea of business is such a foreign concept. Well guess what? You co-founded an internationally renowned not-for-profit organisation and for 10 years were the CEO. Symbiotically you grew a production company with your boyfriend (now husband) alongside it. Can you even fathom that? Bet you can’t. You think you’re bad at maths. But can you believe you managed the finances and fundraising of a social enterprise? So what changed? How could you go from having no clue about, no interest in, no self-confidence around business, to running two businesses? You just put one foot in front of the other and followed your heart. You took on challenges even though they scared you, even though you doubted yourself. You said yes to a vision which emerged while you were at university, and the rest is history.
It’s not been without hard times though, brace yourself. When you say yes to a vision, you say yes to going on a journey. Journeys are filled with ups and downs. In fact, as a filmmaker you have become all too aware of a concept called ‘the hero or heroine’s journey’; it’s a storytelling guide. Basically, the heroine of every story must go through pain and loss in order to ultimately gain the victory at the end of the tale. You’re the heroine of your own story. So dig deep, go forth and face the challenges coming, knowing that every hardship and trial has a purpose in developing your character and making you into the person you’re proud to be today.
Years 11 and 12 are the best school years of your life! Your friendship circle is solid and you have grown in your understanding of what is truly important (a haircut is not one of those things).
There is one thing I want you to remember. Worrying doesn’t add a single hour to your life. Don’t worry about the future – let the future take care of itself. Sometime in the near future, when you get to year 12, you’re going to walk through the school gates and suddenly be overcome with fears about what’s ahead. Instead of giving in to those thoughts and having a panic attack, I’d love for you to lean into your faith and trust that you’ll be OK. Because you are OK. Better than OK, you’re great! You are happy, content, and so proud of the life you are living.
So, my final words to you are: remember that hair grows, problems come and go, so don’t let them consume you! Be kind to yourself and don’t underestimate your abilities. If you want a big life you’ll have to go on a big journey so get ready for an exciting ride. Finally, don’t worry. The next time you find yourself worrying about the future, breathe in, out, and remember the future isn’t yet written, you’re writing it right now and it can be whatever you want it to be.