Canisius alumna makes dream come true: Bagwell’s Dream, Girl gets attention from White House and Oprah

By Brandon Seltenrich

Griffin Reporter

“Make something that you’re proud of.” These are the words that Canisius College alumna Erin Bagwell, ‘09 reads every day from a Post-it note in her room. These few words speak volumes, not just about the path and career that Erin has paved for herself, but also about the possibilities that await each person who sets forth to achieve their dreams.

As a graduate of the Digital Media Arts and Video Institute here at Canisius, Erin jumped into a career working as an interactive designer for a New York City-based tech start-up. After a few years of what she described as a “bizarre experience–an experience which involved uncomfortable situations and sexual harassment,” Erin took her talents in a new direction and created a personal outlet: a blog by the name of Feminist Wednesday. The blog, which strays from simply reporting news and instead offers a genuine storytelling experience in which women are able to share their personal experiences, served as a welcome outlet for Erin from the poor work environment in which she found herself. After seeing how many people could relate to each other, as well as seeing empowering stories of female entrepreneurs, Erin gained the confidence necessary to leave her job and pursue her dream of making a feature-length film, which all began with a Kickstarter campaign.

Erin needed $57,000 to produce her film, and she was able to raise $104,157–nearly double her goal. With the help of an amazing producer, production team, and support from around the nation, Erin was able to figure out a theme for the film, dubbed Dream, Girl, and go to work with her all-female crew. Reminiscing on her late nights in an attic of Lyons Hall on campus, with the company of a box of cereal and some video-editing equipment with which she once made a short film, Erin figured that she had everything she needed to achieve her goals.

“If I could make a thirty-four minute film in college,” said Bagwell, “I could do it here.”

After what she describes as being “in over her head,” the result and impact of the film, which premiered June 9, have been nothing short of incredible. Over 200 screenings of the film nationwide have been requested, including but not limited to one at the White House. Also notable is the mention the film received from media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who praised the film’s social impact and added it to her “Super Soul 100,” which Canisius’ The Dome says “honors 100 extraordinary individuals who live life intentionally, create great social impact, and bring inspiration to others.”

The message of the film, according to Bagwell, is a simple one.

“You don’t need permission to follow your dreams,” she said.

For students at Canisius and worldwide, there are innumerable resources to take advantage of in order to explore areas of passion, and it is important to learn from Bagwell that people can achieve almost anything they set their mind to.

As for the ultimate goal of the film, Erin simply hopes that it will further inspire women and men alike to follow their dreams.

The special Canisius screening of Bagwell’s documentary Dream, Girl will occur at Montante Cultural Center next Friday, September 30 at 7:30p.m.  Her blog is available on-line and is called Feminist Wednesday.

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