When Wonder Woman hit the big screen in 2017 to international blockbuster success, it shattered the notions some people had that a female-led superhero movie directed by a woman could not be popular. But the film also had a meaningful impact on certain viewers, with its hero, Diana — as embodied by star Gal Gadot — instantly becoming an influential role model to girls and young women around the world and inspiring them to unabashedly embrace their own strengths, abilities and powers to do good.
“With great power comes great responsibility” is a familiar theme in superhero tales, and Gadot has embraced this adage, not just through her onscreen character, but also in her capacity as one of the world’s most recognizable actresses and producers. Realizing the impact she could continue to have on those who have been inspired by her character, Gadot has been using the offscreen superpower of her celebrity to further recognize and encourage them.
This month on Nat Geo, you’ll see an especially notable way the actress has been doing this in the documentary IMPACT With Gal Gadot. This film, on which Gadot is an executive producer, is a full-length collection of six short-form documentaries that aired on the network’s YouTube channel earlier this year, each one with an introduction by Gadot and chronicling the powerful story of a woman making an extraordinary impact on her community. The women featured in each story come from very different backgrounds — across Brazil, Puerto Rico, Michigan, California, Louisiana and Tennessee — yet they are all connected by their determination and commitment to improving the lives of the people around them.
“After [I did] Wonder Woman,” Gadot says, “I felt like I had such a big reach to people, and I just wanted to do something good, to use my reach and my platforms to shed light on these amazing, incredible women’s stories [and] maybe ignite something in them and create a movement of people that just want to do good to the world.
“I think that with all these women [in IMPACT], what we can see is that all of them come from difficult circumstances, whether it’s violence, poverty, trauma, discrimination, natural disasters. And yet, it fuels them. It gives them more power to dare, to dream, to change, to speak up and to really make a change in their communities.”
That change comes in the form of everything from a 20-year-old figure skating coach empowering young Black girls on and off the ice in Detroit; to a 19-year-old Puerto Rican woman leading a team of college students whose invention of a water filtration system is finally giving residents clean drinking water in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017; to a 23-year-old ballet dancer running a dance company for young girls in the middle of one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas; and more.
“I keep on calling them my Women of Wonder,” Gadot says of the subjects featured in IMPACT, “because they are the true heroes. I go to set, and I get dressed, and I get my costume and sword and everything, and I fight, but [it’s] make-believe. They actually are there on the ground, sweating and doing all they can to really make the world a better place.”
IMPACT With Gal Gadot, National Geographic Channel, Thursday, June 24, 10pm