Choose Hope: Domini Marshall

herwords2017 (42 of 122)My name is Domini and I am from her words. Three words to describe myself would be feminist, writer, croissant. If a biopic was made about me, I would want Cate Blanchett to play me because who doesn’t want to meet Cate Blanchett?! If a wave of a magic wand could affect change for one social issue, it would be equal respect, rights and opportunities for all.

NW: her words is a new series capturing the diversity of women’s stories. What drove you to start this venture?

DM: The idea for it had been sitting in the back of my mind for some time. I am a lover of deep and meaningful conversations (often over a glass of wine) and of connection. I’d felt the power of sharing your story and, in doing so, feeling as if you’ve been truly seen and heard, and also the power of listening to the stories of others and connecting through them. So, her words came about as a platform for diverse women’s stories – to embrace the power of storytelling and connection, drive greater empathy and awareness for women and their experiences, and ultimately with the hope of contributing to greater gender equality. I believe that personal connection can lead to social change, through the attitudinal and behavioural change that (hopefully) follows and that’s what the series is about. It’s also about building a community of women who back each other and who, from listening to each other’s stories, might also find the courage to speak up.

NW: What topics will the series cover?

DM: To start the series is covering a whole range of topics from feminism, to gender stereotypes, to everyday sexism, to self-love. Each month we focus on a new theme, so we’ll continue to expand these in order to dive into unique conversations on diverse topics.

NW: Why do you think these stories are still underrepresented or even misrepresented?

DM: I suppose it’s a side effect of the patriarchy. When women’s voices aren’t valued, their stories aren’t valued either. We’re missing out on all these extraordinary and important perspectives, especially those from women who are further marginalised – women of colour, trans women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women… The media plays an integral role both in reflecting and shaping cultural attitudes. So if we’re only seeing limited representations and stories of women, we’re being sold an idea that tells us there’s only one way of being a woman, and that works to disempower women and support patriarchal systems of oppression that stifle all humans. When you see yourself, or parts of yourself, reflected on screen, there’s such power in that – it can help you feel validated and respected in a world that often tells you that being different means you are lesser than. It brings people together.

NW: How did you choose the women you have interviewed so far?Tariro Mavondo - self-love

DM: We’re passionate about ensuring that we give a platform not just to those already in the media or public discourse, but also to those who aren’t. So it’s been a process of approaching women who we’ve come across doing amazing things, who’ve spoken out about their experiences and who we feel would be comfortable sharing their story on camera, as well as approaching organisations and media and putting a callout through them for diverse women to share their stories to help ensure we aren’t missing out on different perspectives. We’ve had a number of women contact us wanting to be involved, so it’s been a combination of women we’ve approached and women who’ve approached us.

NW: There are a few different campaigns for gender equality at the moment. What made you choose this particular medium (online videos) to tell their stories?

DM: I think online video content is particularly powerful because it’s so accessible (for those who have access to the internet). You can immediately see the response viewers are having to the series and you can recognise where audience engagement lies and the power in the stories. Film is also a medium I’ve always loved and one that I think has the potential to drive greater social change because the combination of words and images together can lead to greater vulnerability and personal connection.

The nature of the web series also allows us to create episodes that give each interviewee the time and space to tell their story, and go beyond surface level conversation, as well as creating a compilation episode which pulls out universal threads from the individual interviews. This was really important to us.

Tarneen Onus WilliamsNW: What does a standard day on set look like for you?

DM: Our shoot days are pretty relaxed (most of the time). We arrive early to set up the space. After we’re happy with lighting and production design, we wait for our first interviewee to arrive. Once they do, we have a chat, make tea and sit down on set. The interview itself lasts for about an hour and then we take some stills. Then we repeat for each interview!

NW: It has been suggested that young women today don’t identify with feminism. Do you think this is the case? Why/Why not?

DM: I can’t speak for every young woman so I don’t feel I can really answer this question, but from those I’ve met, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. At any age, there are women who do and don’t identify with feminism. I’ve heard of some pretty amazing young women embracing feminism and there are a number of high schools in Melbourne (and I’m sure beyond) with feminist collectives – which I think is amazing!

NW: You were named a Young Social Pioneer by the Foundation for Australians in 2016. What did this experience mean to you and how did it help shape the development of her words?

DM: Being part of the program was an incredible experience. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. What it gave me was an amazing network of people working in the social change space as well as a greater understanding of what’s involved when starting a social business or movement. For her words, it helped me solidify my idea, explore the challenges we might come up against, think more holistically about the project and conquer a fear of pitching. It also gave me the confidence and belief that her words is important and valuable and needed in today’s world.

NM: Let’s be real, sometimes speaking out can be difficult. What are your top tips to anyone who wants to better support a loved one in speaking out against injustice?

DM: I think if someone you know has experienced something and is having difficulty speaking out, the most important thing you can do is believe them, stand by them and be a support for them, in whatever way that may be. They may not want to talk about it, or they may want to. Do some research into other organisations that can be a support too, in ways you might not be able to. Often other organisations, depending on what the need is, can help you with knowing how to better support loved ones in different situations too. I think it’s just about keeping an open mind, understanding everyone has a different process of dealing with things and being empathetic in your approach.

NW: It has been a big start to the year in global politics. What helps you to choose hope?

DM: Oh god! It certainly has been. It’s a pretty tough climate out there, especially when you’re scrolling through social media and reading article after article about the horrors occurring. It’s very easy to let it get you down! I think it’s always important to let yourself feel the emotions – whatever they might be, if that’s anger or frustration or sadness. If you need to have a good cry, let it out, but don’t let it take over your days. Focus on what you can do. Focus on what your strengths are and use them to help you do good and feel good. It was pretty powerful being a part of the Women’s March earlier this year and that was just a group of people walking in solidarity together. Surround yourself with an awesome support network who you can talk to and mobilise to get things happening. Little things can have big impact. You just have to focus on what you can do and how it will make a difference, even in the smallest of ways. Also – I’m incredibly grateful to be able to meet so many amazing women through her words, to listen to their stories and share them with the world. That always boosts my happy feelings!


To  find our more about her words, be sure to follow them on social media and tune in each month to keep up to date with the latest episodes. 


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All images courtesy of and copyright her words (2017). Top to bottom: Domini (left) with ‘her words’ producers Emma Roberts and Bec Mackey; Tariro Mavondo on self love (still); Tarneen Onus Williams (still); and the Launch event for ‘her words’.