Sara Hirsh Bordo, Texas Christian, has always felt comfortable taking risks and challenging norms. That tenacity helped jumpstart her career in marketing and advertising in New York City right out of college. It’s that same drive that has led her to boldly share stories that amplify women’s voices.
While working in advertising, Sara saw the power of storytelling in bringing brands to life. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and transitioned into the entertainment industry, serving as the Executive Director of Interactive Marketing at Paramount Pictures and Vice President of Digital Marketing at MGM Studios. She then went on to help found a start-up production and streaming platform for live entertainment events, including the Oscars’ red carpet and New York Fashion Week events.
But Sara, who has always had a passion for mentoring other women, also saw the power in using storytelling to help others realize their own potential and purpose. “I believe that seeing what you can be opens your eyes and your potential to finding your own purpose and voice by being inspired through other people’s stories.”
Sara found a way to combine her experience in the entertainment industry with her passion for helping women. In 2013, Sara established Women Rising, the first female-founded, collaborative entertainment studio and creator network. Its mission is to create content and experiences to empower women and girls.
“My heart has always been at this apex of entertainment and empowering women to find their own voice,” she says.
Although her career had taken her to New York, Los Angeles and the Midwest, Sara knew she would eventually move back to Austin, Texas — she just wasn’t sure what exactly would bring her home. Then, she got the call to produce the first TEDxAustinWomen. It was exactly the right invitation at the right time.
The event — which became the number one viewed TEDxWomen event in the world — featured Lizzie Velasquez, a motivational speaker and activist who was born with Marfan lipodystrophy syndrome, a rare congenital disease. Her condition resulted in bullying during her childhood and teenage years, which ultimately inspired her to speak out against bullying and to promote optimism and kindness. “Having the incomparable Lizzie Velasquez and building a stage for her is and will always be one of the greatest honors of my life,” says Sara.
Lizzie’s story inspired Sara’s first documentary film: “A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story.” The film, which premiered in 2015 was the first film Sara had directed and produced, and she says, “It was the right message at the right time.” “A Brave Heart” went on to win 11 out of 11 film festivals where it showed.
Following “A Brave Heart” Sara went on to continue making films, including producing “Tightly Wound” which tells the story of a woman’s experience with chronic pelvic pain. Tri Delta Fraternity President Kimberlee Di Fede Sullivan, Pepperdine, was also involved in the project.
Another highlight for Sara was creating Tri Delta’s “Our Kind of Kind” video, which premiered at the 2018 Convention. “It was so in line with the purpose of my work,” she says.
Sara says her Tri Delta experience, beginning with her undergraduate years at Texas Christian University, has always been one of genuine collaboration and support, something that always inspires her. “I am very moved by opportunities, stories and visions of women supporting
other women — I think that, in part, was born for me in college.”
Today, Sara is working on her next project, “We Go Higher: A Documentary of Hope from the 9/11 Kids,” with plans to complete the work in a few months. The film began as a journey of one teenage girl, Delaney, who lost her father and both of her uncles on September 11. When Delaney was asked to deliver a victim’s statement at Guantanamo Bay against the men accused of the attacks, she began her journey to meet the other 3,050 kids who had lost their parents. Eventually, Delaney’s journey ignited a global community of surviving loved ones of victims of terror attacks around the world.
“What has been a true alchemy for the film and for us is watching Delaney find her place and her own voice in the community of 9/11 kids and watching it expand into this beautiful community of survivors around the world,” says Sara.
As Sara reflects back on the projects she’s worked on and the stories she’s helped tell, she can see how each one has influenced and impacted her: “My favorite part about the stories I’ve told to date are the lessons they’ve taught me and the way I’ve grown through them,” she says. “I’ve been the one behind the curtain telling the stories of so many other women, but now I’m finding that people are asking me what my story is and how I got here. Maybe the time to tell my own story is arriving, and that’s very powerful.”
Read more about Sara and other Tri Delta Stars in Entertainment in the digital version of our latest Trident issue.