Happy New Year T-Rexers!
We head into 2013 extremely grateful and buoyed by all of your love and support. 2012 was incredible. 2013 is going to be even more of a trip.
So much has happened for Claressa in the past few months: she was utterly charming on the Colbert Report, she made Sport's Illustrated's Inspiring Performers of 2012 "The Year of the Women" issue, and check this out: The Kickstarter Projects of 2012 include a Pizza museum, a squirrel census and the one and only T-Rexxxxxxxx.
The list goes on. Just last week she walked the red carpet at the BET Honors award ceremony in Washington DC , her name was the answer to a Jeopardy question, and Northwestern High School unveiled a sign honoring her.
But there are also long stretches of time where the phone doesn't ring and she's buried in homework, trying to keep her grades and attendance up. (She got a 3.6 last quarter.) There's an expectation among her family and friends that all these trips, talkshows, and appearances would make her rich. Claressa thought so too. She thought that once she stepped off the podium with that medal around her neck, there would be sponsorships, endorsements, and a brand new car. Well, she got the car. It's from the Patsy's, the local car dealership, so far her one and only sponsor. (And she'll be able to drive just as soon as she finishes driver's ed.)
She's got some money tucked away from her gold medal earnings and a few speakers fees, enough to help her family out with their bills and set her dad up with a small business selling Claressa Shields memorabilia.
She's not complaining, it's not her style, but she is aware that Gabby Douglas and other Olympic medalists are getting book advances, appearing in commercials and on magazine covers and cereal boxes.
Claressa is trying to figure out why she has been passed over. Is her skin too dark? Is she too strong? Too Flint? Or is America just not ready for a girl who loves to fight?
If there's one thing she knows how to do, it's prove people wrong. She's back in the gym with her sights on Rio in 2016.
As for us, we're logging and editing more than 320 hours of video and when we're not in Flint we'll be in the editing suite turning all this footage from this extraordinary year into a coherent story. Our plan is to have a rough cut in the fall, apply to festivals the end of 2013, and premier T-Rex in early 2014. And, we're still fundraising so we can release this baby without debt.
We know you believe hugely in this film and we are extraordinarily grateful for your generous financial support. You're a part of team T-Rex now and we're going to need your collective knowledge and energy going forward. Here are two ways you can help right now:
College: high school has not been a mixed-bag for Claressa. All she wants to do is box. But she's a listener, and her corner is telling her she HAS to go to college. She's applying to nearby colleges but she could really use some recommendations for schools within an driving distance of Flint. If you've got any advice for her, send it along and we'll pass it on to her.
Partnerships: Claressa is a gifted public speaker and she can read a crowd. She impressed a group of scientists and entrepreneurs with a 20 minute TED-style speech at Poptech's conference this year, talking about personal resilience. Have a listen. She's talked to youth groups, schools and churches. Her story touches on so many themes—self-esteem, sexual abuse, girl power, resilience, and race and gender. We're looking for partnerships to further conversations around these issues when the film is out. If you work with or know of an organization that would be a partner, please give us a shout.
Finally, we know you're ready to watch her box again. She'll be defending her title at the USA Boxing National Tournament in March. We'll let you know when that happens we can send a collective T-Rex cheer.
Wishing you all a big, happy 2013.
Sue, Zack and Drea