Emily Blunt is paying it forward.
In celebration of International Day of the Girl this Thursday, Disney has rolled out a new video series, #DreamBigPrincess, where women offer advice and inspiration for the next generation of leaders. Produced and directed by emerging talent from the UN Foundation's Girl Up initiative, the videos tell the story of 20 women working in the arts, entertainment, fashion, law, medicine, politics, science, sports and technology. Trailblazing women like Victoria Arlen, Jennifer Lee, Susan Prescott, Robin Roberts and Kathleen Kennedy were interviewed for the campaign—and E! News has a look at Blunt's conversation with teen filmmaker Marisa Torre.
Decades before she was cast in Mary Poppins Returns (in theaters Dec. 19), Blunt envisioned a different future for herself. "I really did not have the intention of being an actress. I was going to go to university and do modern languages. And then I did a school play that went to the Edinburgh Theatre Festival. An agent came to see it—I was 17—and he goes, 'I think you could really be good and you could do this.' I was like, 'Oh? OK.' I wasn't thinking at the time that this was my calling card," she said. "I just thought I'd give it a go and see if it'd be a good fit for me."
Acting inevitably made Blunt a more empathetic person, allowing her to fully realize the characters she's played in films like The Devil Wears Prada, Into the Woods, A Quiet Place and Sicario. "You really start to understand the human experience on quite a deep level—if you're willing to go there and play people who are vastly different from you," actress explained to Torre. "I'm often quite inspired by characters I play who I discover a lot about myself through."
In fact, acting even helped Blunt overcome a childhood stutter. It's something she's spoken about at length before, and something that shaped the woman she is today. "At the end of the day, what I feel is that everyone's got something, you know? And stuttering just happened to be my thing and my setback that I had to overcome," she said. "But I believe very much in setbacks. You don't have to take them hard. There is support out there. You can overcome it. It can be temporary. It shouldn't define who you are. It taught me a lot, having a setback like that."
Now that she has two daughters with husband John Krasinski, Blunt is even more mindful of how she can inspire young girls to follow their dreams. "I want [my daughters] to claim the word 'ambition' as something very important and very positive," she said. "The idea of being self-sufficient and an individual and doing what you love—that's what I want for them, really."
Blunt leads by example, and she'll continue to break down barriers—just as so many actresses before her did. "There's a line in Mary Poppins where she says, 'Anything is possible. Even the impossible," she said. "I think that really symbolizes what dreaming big is all about: The idea that if you want something big enough, then the universe is going to conspire to give it to you."
That very idea is one of the very reasons Blunt was so eager to participate in the video series. Hailing from 13 countries, the aspiring filmmakers began their creative journeys in July, and they were given ongoing mentorship from Apple, Disney and female-led production company Summerjax. Each video was shot on iPhone X and edited using Final Cut Pro X on MacBook Pro.
Each video in the series will be shared across Disney's global media platforms as part of a worldwide campaign to unlock up to a $1 million donation to benefit Girl Up. For each like or share of a video or photo posted publicly with #DreamBigPrincess on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, Disney Worldwide Services will donate $1 (U.S.) The initiative runs until Nov. 20, 2018.
"The #DreamBigPrincess series documents a host of inspiring stories and diverse experiences, but the common message is clear," said Zenia Mucha, The Walt Disney Company's Senior Executive Vice President of Communications. "Having a big dream is the first step on the path to success, and positive role models are critical in helping you continue on that journey—whether that's a fictional entrepreneur like Tiana or a real-world success story like any of the women in this series." Susan Prescott, Apple's Vice President of Product Marketing, echoed those sentiments, saying that while "it's important to have role models," it's just as "important" to recognize young girls' "talents, let them have a voice and show the great things they can do."