An Inspiring Woman for International Women’s Day: Michealene Cristini Risley

Celebrating Michealene – Today is the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. It is a day for celebrating the strides women have made around the world. As you can see from the news lately, we have a long way to go in many countries, but the celebration is about the progress. I want to tell you about an amazing woman that I have the pleasure of knowing and she should be celebrated today for the work that she has done (and is doing)!

Follow Your Dreams

I first met Michealene Cristini Risley when we worked together at Sega (yes, that Sega – I was very popular with my “video-game crazy” cousins at the time). She was the head of licensing and I worked with her on setting up Sega Studios in Los Angeles. She was working on a division to film games and make digital video games. I know it sounds quaint now that everything is digitized, but back then (1994) it was a novel idea! At the time, she told me wanted to be a film maker and I was having a hard time seeing it. Not seeing that she could be a film maker but seeing how it was going to happen with the job she had at the time. Well, it is a matter of baby steps, taking one step at a time to reach your dream. When she left Sega she took that one step and then another and then another. She produced one film and then another. The important thing I learned from her is to take the first step.

Tapestries of Hope Film

Following her dreams, Michealene made a film about girls being raped in Africa because of a bogus and completely untrue myth that if you sleep with a virgin it will cure HIV/Aids. Tapestries of Hope premiered last fall and is playing in other places as it is scheduled. In making this film, she went out to breakfast one morning with her crew and came back to find armed agents shouting and carrying on. She (and her assistant) were arrested and thrown into 5′ x 5′ jail cell with squalid, sub-human conditions for three very long days. A man read about the plight on Facebook and called the CIA. Her husband hired human rights lawyers and she eventually bribed her way out of prison after being interrogated by no less than 15 men. She immediately left the country – thankfully, with her film in tact. With this film, Michealene was able to showcase the work of Betty Makoni and the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe. Following her dream has shed light on terrible conditions in Zimbabwe and the work of another amazing woman. I urge you to take a look at the film.

What Can You Do?

You can take one step today – take one step towards reaching your dream. If you are working towards your dream you probably already know what that step is that you need to take. If you don’t have a dream that you are working towards – write it down and figure out one step that you can take today. Michealene isn’t stopping with this one film, she is working on another project – writing a book  about here experience in Zimbabwe. She is also encouraging support of legislation like the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which did not make it out of the 111th Congress. If you are interested, you can support the efforts of groups like Women Thrive Worldwide, which worked on this legislation. Happy International Women’s Day!

Thank you Michealene for all of the work you are doing and the inspiration of truly following your dream!


8 responses to “An Inspiring Woman for International Women’s Day: Michealene Cristini Risley

  1. Awesome post! So glad to see someone else highlighting some of the issues that women around the world have to go through. Michealine sounds amazing- what an inspiring story. I’m totally going to check out those links!

    • Stay tuned for more posts about women and women doing good. One of the goals I have for this year is to highlight 30 women and Michealene is one of them. I hope you have a chance to see the movie – it is very moving and unbelievable in uncovering those who perpetuate the myth about having sex with virgins curing HIV/Aids!

  2. What a great post and great way to celebrate International Woman Day. I also really like the call to action that you left us with.

    here from 31 DBB.

  3. Hi Jacki – thank you for visiting and commenting. I think these issues are important to highlight and share. You never know when someone will be able to contribute something to such an effort (time, money, ideas, etc…).

  4. What an incredible story. She really is a hero. I have not heard of Women Thrive Worldwide, but followed with huge disappointment the failure of Congress to pass IVAWA. It infuriates me to this day, especially today, but we can still make it happen. Knowing there are so many out there fighting the good fight makes it that much easier to do my part.

  5. Very inspiring! Happy International Women’s Day to you!

    Visiting from 31dbbb.

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