Jennifer Morrison from 'Once Upon a Time' gives motivating speech

Jennifer Morrison, also known as Emma Swan on ABC’s hit drama Once Upon a Time, has more to her than meets the eye. She’s not just a famous actress, she’s also a woman with a mission; a mission she shared in an exceptionally empowering speech at this year’s ANNpower Vital Voices Leadership Forum in Washington D.C.

Morrison’s goal is to encourage young women to take on leadership roles and inspire them to change the world. She has been working towards this goal in a very specific way for the last four years as a member of the advisory council for the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative, which is a joint effort between ANN INC. and Vital Voices Global Partnership. Every year this initiative recognizes 50 high school sophomore and junior girls who have outstanding ambitions, invites them to a yearly leadership forum, and provides them with grants to turn their visions into reality.

As a member of the advisory council, Morrison works with the other council members to evaluate grant proposals and act as a mentor to these young women, the ANNpower Fellows, our future leaders.

I just met 50 of the most incredible young ladies. These girls are going to change the world #AnnPower @vitalvoices

A photo posted by jenmorrisonlive (@jenmorrisonlive) on

For her presentation, Morrison chose to speak to the Fellows about equality in the workplace. However, her focus wasn’t the usual spiel about bridging the gender gap. Instead, she chose to share her observations and experiences of how women often treat other women poorly. From what she’s seen, women put each other down, and undermine each other’s successes by implying that they were not achieved on merit alone. With more and more women filling leadership roles, it is very important to encourage them to lead with kindness, and to support each other.

While discussing this with People magazine, she commented that “it's so important to catch ourselves in those moments where we might have the instinct, out of our own insecurities or our own fears, to attack someone, and instead to build them up and to see the best in them.”

Although this may not be the answer to establishing gender equality in the workplace, it certainly can’t hurt. I know I’d rather have a boss that encourages me, than one who puts me down. Let’s also consider that one of the overarching goals of the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative is to make the world a better place. I think Morrison hit the nail on the head when she said it starts with being kind to one another.

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Carissa Shuman

Carissa is a writer, editor, and artist with a love for science and science fiction.

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