Women who helped transform the worlds of politics, business, entertainment, sports and fashion will be headlining a new documentary series that is to debut tonight on PBS.
The series—Makers: Women Who Make America—is narrated by award-winning actress Meryl Streep and is scheduled to broadcast at 8 p.m. It is a joint venture between PBS and AOL.
The series web producer, Nancy Armstrong of Riverside, said the idea for a documentary on the impact women have had in America was born nearly a decade ago when filmmakers approached feminist Gloria Steinem about filming a documentary about her work. Steinem suggested that producer Dyllan McGee expand her focus to include the collective story of women making their mark on history.
Flash forward to 2010, at a fundraiser for the project where Armstrong met producers McGee and Betsy West. At the fundraiser, the producers screened a pitch reel that included interviews with Steinem, broadcaster Barbara Walters and the late Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman vice presidential candidate.
"I was so struck by the importance of the project with the stories that were never really told in that format and capturing the stories of these women before they were no longer around," Armstrong said. At the same time, Armstrong's husband Tim, the CEO of AOL, was leading a turn-around of the Internet company and trying to capture the women's content space. “I went home and told him about the project. He got it," she said of the project's relevance, and "said that AOL would fund the project."
Earlier this month, Armstrong hosted a community screening of Makers in Greenwich. She said there was a broad swath of generational interest in this documentary.
With 180 interviews completed, The Makers project continues, Armstrong said.
AOL and PBS are utilizing all of their collective platforms, including education, digital, community engagement, and broadcast to engage the American public in an on-going conversation about how women have transformed all aspects of American life.
The site is basically a living library of women’s stories that will continue to grow and include the next generation of women who impact society in new and profound ways.