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Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

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“Girls State” captures what it would be like if teenage girls ran the government

“Girls State,” a documentary now streaming on Apple TV+, follows the story of the 80 year tradition, Girls State. Girls State is a summer program with rising high school senior girls who are meant to create a mock government. The documentary took place in the summer of 2022 in Missouri, and follows the stories of a select group of girls with different backgrounds and political views.

The process of selecting girls to the program included first interviewing hundreds of girls, and then identifying small groups who the directors and producers believed had the necessary requisites and qualities. Since the girls were minors, the directors and producers also had to speak to the girls’ parents to make sure that the parents were aware of the nature of the project.

Director Jesse Moss (left) and Emily Worthmore (right) are captured in the behind-the-scenes of “Girls State.”

“We love [the girls we selected] because they’re ambitious, they’re smart, but they’re also really open to the camera and that’s not everybody,” Director Jesse Moss said. “I think I would be very self conscious if there was a camera pointed at me.”

The directors of “Girls State,” Moss and Amanda McBaine, also directed “Boys State,” a documentary in Texas that outlines the same program as “Girls State.” Since the founding of Girls State, which is sponsored by the American Legion, 80 years ago, the programs have remained separate. At both Boys State and Girls State, the highest ranked position to run for is governor.

“So many boys wanted to run for governor [when filming “Boys State”],  they had competitive space to even get on the ballot,” McBaine said. “I think that not enough girls actually wanted to run for governor [in “Girls State”]. They don’t need that kind of competitive ballot, so that was a real question mark for me. Why don’t more girls want to run for governor? All the girls wanted to be on the Supreme Court. That was a very competitive space. The answer is clear to me that in the real world, the Supreme Court is a representative space for women and governorships presidencies.”

In the Girls State programs, the attendees can run for several different political positions. It’s essentially the same as our own local, state and federal government, only it’s run by teenage girls. Early on in the documentary, we are introduced to confident and conservative standing Emily Worthmore who runs for governor in Girls State. At t

Brooke Taylor takes a photo with other girls who were selected to be on the Supreme Court in Missouri’s 2022 Girls State. (Credit: Courtesy of Apple TV+)

he beginning, she immediately states that she plans to run for president in 2040.

“I think it’s really powerful when you meet somebody who has a transformational experience,” Moss said. “I think Emily, who is the main character and sort of the center of the film in a way, was quite sure of what she stands for. She’s open to taking things in and I think that allowed her to go on this journey. That’s when you make similarity work. You’re looking to meet somebody at a transformative moment in their life and you just kind of have to get lucky to do that.”

McBaine often noticed discrepancies between the actions of the participants in Girls State and Boys State. The boys got into political arguments and tried to form political parties as soon as they got to Boys State, while at Girls State, they only started talking about serious political issues four days into filming.

“[Filming “Girls State”] was a really interesting project frankly, to really get a portrait of what’s going on for 17 year olds in Missouri in 2022,” McBaine said.” I love those conversations, meeting people and finding out what it’s like to come-of-age in this moment.”

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About the Contributor
Ainsley Jay
Ainsley Jay, Staff Reporter
Ainsley Jay, Class of 2027, is a first year reporter for WSPN. She runs for the school’s cross country team. Outside of school she enjoys reading, watching TV, listening to music and spending time with friends and family. Contact: [email protected]
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