Ask Julia Fisher Farbman who inspires her and you’ll get one amazing anecdote after another of her face-to-face meetings with women surmounting incredible odds to make the world a better, stronger, healthier place.
There is the mother who fought for hope, enrolling her daughter with Leukemia in a revolutionary gene therapy trial that saved her life. There’s the female Madagascan NASA engineer, literally shooting for the stars to shake up an industry historically dominated by men.
The details she recalls of pioneering business women, activists, actresses are strung together into a heroic story of the modern woman. That is Farbman’s inspiration; Modern Hero is her muse.
“All of them have their own unique point of view. I am the lucky one who gets to listen, learn, and be the messenger of their stories,” Farbman says.
Farbman is the co-creator of the digital video storytelling platform Modern Hero. She and partner Cindy Connors, who has spent more than 25 years in video production, accept nominations of women of all backgrounds, missions and ages who have a powerful story to tell. Then, they set out to do those stories justice by giving them an audience.
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“We want to build a community of inspired, intelligent, go-getting women.”
The Philadelphia journalist with an affection for fierce female protagonists got her start on the other end of the camera as a producer at the local ABC affiliate. There, she found a love for researching, interviewing and crafting stories of others.
“Stepping in front of the camera is a bit of a change for me,” she says. “Before I was asking questions behind the camera, now I’m a visible piece of the storytelling.”
But, Farbman describes the experience as nothing short of life-changing. Since launching the series in early 2017, she has been “humbled and excited by the response so far.”
Her interview subjects run the gamut of issues facing women today. From raising awareness about infertility to advancing social equality, Farbman, Connors, and their production team of predominantly females, have helped to curate a lineup of voices that will help other women understand they aren’t alone.
It’s as if Farbman’s honest portrayal of each Modern Hero’s struggles and perseverance is a way of telling viewers that heroes aren’t as flawless as we might imagine. In fact, the presence of those flaws tend to make their successes that much more beautiful.
She admits it’s easy to find herself mesmerized in the company of such highly-acclaimed women, such as the 92-year old co-founder of Ronald McDonald House who’s single-handedly attributed for reducing mortality rates by 50% for a specific cancer.
“What drives me is a deep, genuine wanting to know what made them who they are,” she explains. “The common theme from woman to woman is deep sense of purpose, and a relentless determination to leave the world a better place than they found it.”
Yet, what Farbman finds again and again is a sense of normalcy. Women who have and will leave legacies on history explain just how human they are.
“Most of them have said, ‘I’m not any different from you or anyone else. I just choose to not let anyone or anything hold me back.’”
The online community Farbman is building is one of authenticity. She’s promoting an expectation among women to act on their passions, to celebrate each other’s voices, and to unapologetically challenge norms. She’s lifting the curtain on our role models, bringing inspiration to anyone with an internet connection.
In a time when social media can feel overrun with bullies and negativity, Modern Hero is a space of support and diversity.
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