As a teenager, Nelzy started to see girls around her changing. Their bodies were maturing more quickly than hers and they began acting differently around boys. Nelzy was even bullied and teased by girls she considered friends because of her physical appearance. She felt self-conscious and alone. Thankfully, Nelzy found Girls Inc.
At Girls Inc., Nelzy felt safe to talk about her insecurities. By connecting with other girls, she realized she wasn’t the only one who struggled with self-doubt. She made friends and learned how to embrace her individuality. With the help of mentors and peers, Nelzy also discovered her strengths and was empowered to make a difference.
While at Girls Inc., Nelzy learned about the portrayal of women in media, and how edited photos can create unrealistic beauty expectations. She saw the power of the media, which sparked her interest in film. As a 10th grader, Nelzy created a documentary about the lack of accessible grocery stores and produce in low-income neighborhoods. The film went on to be featured on PBS and win The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Award.
"Through my media literacy classes at Girls Inc. and by creating this documentary, I realized that I can use film to tell stories and educate my community,” she said. “Being from Oakland and being a girl limits the opportunities to continue your education and have a platform to share your voice. Thanks to Girls Inc. that’s not my story.”
This fall, Nelzy plans to attend to the University of Southern California and study directing. She hopes to use her talent to highlight issues that affect women and girls. Nelzy is just one of the many girls who, through Girls Inc., have gained the knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves and others.
We celebrate Girls Inc. Week May 2-6 and the power of girls to critically analyze and harness the power of media for good.
You can also read more about how Girls Inc. is making a difference in the lives of girls.