Director and Producer, Straight/Curve
Jenny McQuaile is a talented journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker, whose recent film, Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image, documents the struggles women have with body image and how societies around the globe continue to encourage unrealistic beauty standards. The film places emphasis on the fashion industry and the need for more inclusive imagery, representative of all.
Jenny has become a leader in the body positivist movement for women. She uses the power of storytelling to encourage women to fight for inclusivity and representation for all, regardless of size, race, religions and more. The film has received praise from countless women’s lifestyle publications, including VOGUE, Refinery29, People and more.
Jenny also helped produce The World Cup Project, a documentary series about 11 countries around the world that use soccer for social change. She directed and edited three episodes including Laces, set in Liberia, which won Best Documentary Short at the NYLA International Film Festival in 2015 and was an Official Selection at The Lighthouse International Film Festival.
How do you define your purpose & mission in life?
I’ve always wanted to tell stories, ever since I was a little girl. I used to write little comic books with characters who had big adventures. Then I became mildly obsessed with Lois Lane and wanted to be a journalist, which I did become. After several years as a reporter in Dublin and London, I decided to give up my stable job and backpack around the world for four years. During this time I met so many incredible people with inspirational stories to tell, which is when I knew I had to start making documentaries. I wanted to help people realize and use their voice because we all have one. I wanted to share important stories and help make everyone feel a little less alone as we make our way through this world. The last three and a half years have been spent on my Documentary film Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image. I feel the responsibility to help people have conversations about our body image crisis quite acutely now. Through this work I’ve found my passion to create and share female empowerment stories. I feel it’s my purpose to create content that uplifts women and shares our stories so we keep pushing the needle forward and move closer to shattering those glass ceilings.
Describe a moment that could’ve broken you, but didn’t. How did you get past the struggle?
When I was a young reporter at the Irish Daily Mirror newspaper in Dublin, Ireland, my hours were reduced while people who had started the job after me were kept on full-time. Instead of feeling like I was less as a reporter, or that I couldn’t do my job, I decided to challenge myself even further. I asked for a role at the Daily Mirror in London instead—the big sister paper of the Irish edition, where the competition was even more fierce. I chose to treat the moment as an opportunity, not a moment that would break me. I moved to London one week later and lived and worked there for over three years as a successful journalist until I decided the time was right for me to leave and start a new adventure. Perhaps my early twenties’ exuberance helped me get past this struggle, but I like to believe it was because I believed in myself and my ability and I didn’t falter. If you can’t believe in yourself, nobody else can either.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Learn how to talk about, and process, your emotions and feelings, and don’t be ashamed of them.
Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
I don’t have one single inspirational person in my life, I am so lucky to have many. My mom is a strong, independent woman who taught me the power of shared responsibility and partnership in a marriage, my best friend KJ Mell inspires me with her level-headedness and ability to talk me down off any ledge. Sophia Coppola was my first favorite filmmaker and remains pretty high up there to this day. And pretty much any woman who stands up for what she believes in and fights for it on a daily basis is my inspiration. With social media, I see other boss ladies excelling and that constantly drives me forward and inspires me to reach higher.
If you could create a slogan for your life, what would it be?
Be relaxed but not lazy and adventurous but not stupid.