“It seems so ludicrous that we live in a world where these kind of disparities exist. Even if you take the dimmest view of humanity possible, you can still distill the fact that everybody is better off if women are better off.”-MJ Delaney
While we have come a long way in the fight for women’s rights, there are still major disparities that exist when it comes to gender equality that need to be eradicated.
With this mission in mind, Project Everyone, in partnership with Getty Images, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and SAWA Global Cinema Advertising Association, recreated the Spice Girls’ iconic “Wannabe” music video as part of the launch of the Global Goals campaign for Global Girls. The video represents the voices of girls and women all over the globe demanding change for issues like quality education, an end to child marriage and equal pay for equal work.
London-born director MJ Delaney was selected to direct the video and was thrilled to be involved in the project.
“This was a dream job for me,” she said. “Not only do I believe very deeply in the messages of the video but I am a huge Spice Girls fan. I was 9-years-old when ‘Wannabe’ came out and learned about girl power.”
The girl power mantra has stuck with her since childhood and is an attitude she finds prevalent within her generation.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that girls who grew up with the Spice Girls are now the most vocal group of feminists we’ve had in decades. As children, we ingested those themes of female empowerment, and now that we’re adults in a world that is unjust in regards to gender equality, there’s a reason we’re loud and proud feminists working hard to change things,” Delaney said.
“I think that the influence of girl power shouldn’t be underestimated,” she said. “It gave my generation of women a perspective that I see reflected amongst my peers — a real sense of women supporting women and not viewing each other as competition, but rather seeing the value and power in friendships and alliances.”
While casting the video, it was important to Delaney that women from all over the world would be represented in the piece, and also that it would have an impact on a diversity of audiences.
“When I came on board, one of my main objectives was to make sure we had a cast that was full of famous women from all over the world who brought their own legions of fans,” she said. “I think these types of films tend to create a little splash in the West but don’t have any traction or gain an audience in the countries they are purporting to speak on behalf of, so it was important to get stars from India, Nigeria, South Africa as well as from US, UK and Canada.”
Delaney also wanted the video to pay homage to the original music video, while still feeling contemporary and relatable for today’s audience.
“I really relished and enjoyed creating this video, and being such a big Spice Girls fan, I wanted to remain true to what I loved about the original. We included little nods throughout, like recreating the hotel stairs from the music video and including the bus and the kicks. We did however make some changes, especially to the performances. I told all the girls that I wanted them to have an almost aggressive attitude. We wanted these girls to demand these changes that are so long overdue,” Delaney said.
“There was definitely a lot of girl power that went into making the video, including the end product. All ages, races, styles and backgrounds — it was a real collaboration of really individual and different women, which I think is true to the spirit of the Spice Girls.”
Not only was the cast made up of strong, diverse women but much of the crew was female as well, including Getty Images Reportage photographer, Veronique de Viguerie, who shot portraits of the women as well as behind the scenes footage.
Despite the various challenges of shooting on three different continents, they were able to create a powerful and important video that Delaney hopes will play a role in effecting change.
“The end goal is to contribute towards the Global Goals promise to create gender equality by 2030,” she said, “but I also hope that it creates a unified voice. There are a lot of very vocal feminists now, which I find encouraging and inspiring, but I think it’s important to unite as an international voice across countries and continents so women can speak up for gender equality as one.”
See more images from the Global Girls shoot at Getty Images