Laura peña is a Dominican-American filmmaker, storyteller, entrepreneur, creative producer, motion designer, animator, traveler, speaker, and mentor to young girls.
”I believe that each one of us have something inside, all of us. And the world will miss out if we don't do something about it. Because someone out there needs to see what we need to create.”
— Laura Peña
Laura is the Founder of She is the Universe, a global platform that looks to inspire, empower and support teenage girls from around the globe, to stand in their own stories and to pursue their dreams, through storytelling, mentorship, and community.
As part of She Is The Universe, Laura is producing the video docu-series with Stories of Girls told by girls. She has been traveling around the world, producing, directing, filming, editing, and interviewing teenage girls to bring to life 111 stories. Laura is giving teenage girls aged 13 to 19, of all shapes, sizes, colors, languages, cultural, and socio-economic background, a platform designed to amplify their voices. Girls' empowerment, service and community at the center of everything she does.
She sees the power of storytelling and media, of sharing our vulnerable stories and our wildest dreams with people who believe in us. She believes in making the world smaller by listening to these young women from different backgrounds and countries and sharing their stories. So far season 1 has been released on youtube. Season 2 is coming out in the fall of 2019. This project has offered girls a platform to show the world who they are and help change the narrative of how the world sees girls and women. Laura has conducted 51 interviews in 21 cities and 10 countries.
“It’s been amazing for me to hear the stories these girls have to share with the world. Stories where we get to witness things about girls and their lives that we wouldn’t get to see otherwise.” Peña says “From 10 year old Lilly, from The Netherlands, who inspired by 16 year-old Greta Thunberg, has been striking from school for climate change for over 32 weeks, and who is dreaming about a future without plastic; to Alexa in Portland, who is planning on creating an organization to help kids of immigrant parents navigate the US education system. These girls have shown me that they truly are the future. Amplifying their voices is part of my calling and I knew this needed 100% of my time and energy so I put my life and work on hold and went for it.”
Laura is also the founder of JelloMonsters, a creative design lab focused on storytelling through motion graphics, design, and technology. She creates video-driven experiences online and offline for live events worldwide. She also produces motion graphics content for web series and online videos.
With over 15 years of experience in the creative field, Laura has worked with top brands in the entertainment, Her video design work has been recognized in magazines, newspapers, and books around the world, and presented in multiple cities, including Shanghai, Bangalore, London, Buenos Aires, and New York City.
As a little girl from the Dominican Republic, she knows what it feels like to not be able to do something because I was labeled “a girl.” She knows what it is like to not feel safe or not have the support from the community or society at large, to be literally silenced when trying to share my opinions and dreams. She was not confident as a teenager, she felt invisible and that what she had to say was not important. She didn’t think she was smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough. She felt so alone and like there was no one out there who could relate to what I was feeling. It took her way too long to discover the confident person she is today.
Fast forward, and she got a scholarship to go to college in the US, moved to NYC, and even though she was living “the American Dream”, she realized this was not the life she was meant to live, and decided she wanted more. She quit her job, her life in NYC and started traveling the world and going to events where people living unconventional lives gather. In this self discovery process she found her people. This is what she was missing all along, she realized, community.
Her vision for the future of the world
Laura dreams of a more balanced world, of equality for all. Having different perspectives when tackling the big issues that are affecting us all will make a big difference. That is why she believes the world needs more women in leadership positions, and more women and girls following their own dreams. But it is not until we see other people like us, who have become the prime minister, the CEO, the Executive Director, whilst being a woman, can cross it our minds that we can do that too.
She is not alone on this quest. On a visit to the UN in NYC, she learnt about the Sustainable Development Goals, which “provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet”. Goal 5, is key to this project: “to Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. Can you imagine?! Changing the world by supporting girls? WE SURE CAN!