Meet the women behind Malala Fund's Full Force video

As Malala reminded us in her annual message on March 8, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate our heroes. This year, Malala Fund wanted to create a visual rallying cry for girls and women around the world to do just that.

We sought to make a video that represented a cavalcade of historic and modern women who have made an impact on our world — including Grace Hopper’s contributions to computer programming, Rosalind Franklin’s help in discovering DNA and actress Letitia’s Wright’s dominance at the box office.

To bring it to life, we enlisted four young animators and designers because we believe a message about the potential of girls to change the world is so much powerful coming from young women themselves.

Get to know the team of students from Ringling College of Art + Design who were the visual forces behind Malala Fund’s “Girls have the power” video: Marja Siu, 23, from Nicaragua, Beatriz Patarata, 20, from Portugal, Ina Koekemoer, 23, from South Africa/Swaziland and Orianna Flores, 21, from the U.S.

How did you approach the artwork or animation for this video? What were you hoping to accomplish?

Marja Siu (MS): After brainstorming different design approaches and figuring out the story, simplicity and fun always drove our minds. We wanted to create a piece that was simple but bold. We wanted everyone to understand the message right away, while also making it exciting through bold design and great animation.

Beatriz Patarata (BP): As soon as we heard the idea, there was a visual style in mind. We wanted bold and eclectic. We knew there were limitations, but we played in the limits of those, and what resulted of it was unexpectedly positive. Personally, sharing the message of the animation was always what we hoped to accomplish, the more people that understand the need for gender equality and how education can support that, the better.

Ina Koekemoe (IK): Animation and design is a process. It is starting from the most simple solution and layering on top of it. Each step becomes more and more complicated but having a solid foundation means that there is always something to fall back on. Most of all it is a lot of patience and problem solving. I wanted to contribute to the team as much as was possible and also contribute to a cause that was close to my heart.

Orianna Flores (OF): It really came down to creating unified visual language to help us convey the ideas as clearly and as boldly as possible. The goal was to make it inspiring and bold: we’d ask ourselves “how does this make me feel?” and once we thought “empowered,” we knew we had it.

The team discusses ideas for the Full Force video. (Courtesy of Marja Siu)

The team discusses ideas for the Full Force video. (Courtesy of Marja Siu)

What has the process been like working on this video?

MS: Typography-driven videos are always a challenge because of legibility. The balance between making it fun but also making the script clear was the biggest challenge we encountered. Regardless, the whole process felt fulfilling because we all believed in the video’s and client’s message.

BP: For me, this project was a first. I had not worked directly with motion designers until then and it was incredible to see what I designed come alive. It’s completely different to design for motion, and so the process was definitely a learning curve for me. It was tiring too, but in end very rewarding.

IK: The tricky part was when it came to communicating our ideas clearly and precisely. Through direction using storyboards, style frames and animatics, we could not only get precise feedback but also translate design into motion.

OF: It was a lot of back and forth on making it punchy but also making it legible. Communication was definitely key, so we had to work through the boards we made and make sure that the idea was coming across properly and brainstorm ways to make it better.

What do you hope people think or feel when they see the final product?

MS: I hope people feel empowered and hopeful. I also want people to self-reflect within their reality, since there are so many countries were women still don’t have access to education or the right to protests.

BP: Nowadays, it’s easy to get caught up by the news or by statistics that are almost never in favour of the female gender. I hope women can look at it and feel hopeful that our world is getting better for us, and there are women out there fighting for each other, and that we can too.

IK: I hope that people will feel inspired and proud. Inspire to help and proud to be a woman.

OF: Empowered, empowered, empowered.

The team of animators discusses the videos’ storyboard. (Courtesy of Marja Siu)

The team of animators discusses the videos’ storyboard. (Courtesy of Marja Siu)

What's next for you? How can we see more of your work?

MS: I’m moving to NYC to work at Nickelodeon and from there the possibilities are endless! I’m hoping to work with an NGO or a creative startup at some point in my career, but I’m very excited and open to see where my career turns while working in the big city. You can check my work on my website and Instagram and follow my work as a singer-songwriter on Facebook.

BP: I still have two more years to finish my degree, so in the short term that will be priority. Yet, I hope to be doing more social and environmental work in the future, both during and after college. I consider myself an environmentalist and activist of sorts, and I’d love to see that merge with my professional career. You can find my work on Behance.

IL: I am hoping to use my skills one day to help tell the important stories that might be overlooked. Our industry is fast changing along with this global society but the ways that it can be implemented is endless. So what wonderful things will happen when we use this for a good cause?

OF: Next I am hoping to move to NYC in order to pursue a career in motion design and keep pushing the boundaries of what it can be used for. I’m not very active on my Instagram but my website is usually updated every few months.

Any advice you have to young women who are interested in becoming animators/artists/designers or working in this industry?

MS: Discover your passion and don’t be afraid to explore, fail and succeed in the process. The industry is really broad and flexible. There’s always something new to learn about creativity and about yourself.

BP: I’d say trust your gut and work really hard. The people that succeed in our field love their work and what they do, so make sure you’re doing work what you love and that you’re putting all of you into it.

IK: Just keep creating and experimenting. It is very important to not be afraid a failure. Even if it is the worst piece you have ever created keep going! There are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn and practice.

OF: There is always more to learn. Surround yourself with uplifting people that push you to be better. And never forget where your love of art came from.


Through Assembly, Malala Fund is helping girls around the world share their stories. Subscribe to receive our newsletter and learn about the next generation of leaders.


About the Author

Hannah W. Orenstein is associate director of communications at Malala Fund. Her favourite ice cream flavour is pistachio.