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Holly Morris is a writer and a Hedgebrook alumna. We asked her about her work and about being a Woman Authoring Change.


Tell us about your work as a writer—do you write in multiple genres/forms?

Yes. After several years as the editorial director of the book publishing company Seal Press, I began to pursue my own work – books, essays, film & TV. I toggle between media, which seems an important survival skill for writers today. I also co-founded the women writers space PowderKeg. Most of the women in the space – many well known and widely published – toggle, cobble and struggle. For most of us, life and work is always interesting, but making a living remains challenging.


Do you consider yourself an activist?

I do – but my placard-carrying spirit expresses itself in non-traditional ways. After my years  in feminist publishing, I wrote and directed the PBS series Adventure Divas – docs that feature women activists, artists and politicos in Iran, India, New Zealand, & Cuba; and wrote its companion book – Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine. My latest project, a feature doc called The Babushkas of Chernobyl, based on my article and TED Talk (written at Hedgebrook!), explores the resilience of 3 unlikely heroines inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Most of my projects are feminist media endeavors built for maximum impact and infused with humor (– even the Chernobyl film). If I have any skill (or consistent zeal) it is in helping right-on women get their (often marginalized) stories and work out to the wider world.



Would you characterize your writing as activist? Why or why not?

Yes some of it – but in a sneaky way I suppose; no obvious call to action, but lousy with pro-woman agenda and unlikely “narrators/voices of authority” & heroines.


What impact do you hope your writing will have in the world?

Well, that readers/viewers will say to themselves: “Me too then” – and revolutionize their own lives. Women see their own possibility, their own potential, in the stories of other women. Then, they go out and change the world.


What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a reader/audience member?

See above.


About Holly Morris:

Holly Morris is an internationally-known filmmaker, author, correspondent and speaker whose work shines a light on the lives of contemporary women around the globe.

Her most recent film, The Babushkas of Chernobyl, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2015. The story – of a defiant community of women who live inside Ukraine’s radioactive “Exclusion Zone” – also forms the basis of her popular TED Talk, and her award-winning and widely syndicated essay “A Country of Women.”

She has written and directed several other docs that explore the lives of unlikely icons, including, Behind Closed Chadors (Iran), Holy Cow (India), Mana Wahines (New Zealand) and Paradox Found (Cuba) – all broadcast nationally on PBS and in more than 20 countries worldwide as part of the Adventure Divas series.

She is the author of Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine (Random House), a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Her recent story the subculture of illegal ‘Stalkers‘ inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was originally published in Slate. Morris has filmed in more than 20 countries, and is a longtime presenter for the PBS series Globe Trekker. You can learn more about Holly on her website or follow her on Twitter: @hollymorris



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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

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