In October 2014, Lori Pratico attended a Girl Rising screening and fundraiser hosted by a friend. Not long after, Girl Noticed was born - inspired by the film and her belief that every girl, no matter her circumstance, deserves the chance to be “noticed.”

Through her country-wide charcoal mural project, Lori hopes to instill inspiration and encouragement among others, long after the portraits wash away.

“I believe each person on this earth has value. Something they can offer to the world,” she says. “To be noticed validates that value. It says, ‘Yes you are valuable’.”

She shared a few thoughts about her ongoing project and on the value of girls and women:

Do you have a favorite Girl Noticed mural?

The last one I did, and then the one before that, and the one before that. Each one has such a unique story attached to it. I said after the very first mural, if the project had to end today and I never did another mural it would have been a success. That is how impactful I feel each mural is. I still feel that way today.

We had to make some difficult choices when it came to choosing the countries and girls in Girl Rising because there are so many important stories worth telling. Is there a particular topic you’d like to address through a future mural - or a specific location where you feel like your message is especially critical?

I think I may have thought that when I first started the project, but what I have discovered is that the need for girls and women to be noticed and feel empowered is universal. I think the wider spread we can share our message the better. So my goal has become to reach further and more people above reaching specific groups or places.

You mentioned that you relate to Wadley from the GR film. Can you tell me more about this feeling?

There is a moment in the movie where Wadley is walking through her village observing the devastation from the earthquake and she thinks, “I survived, that must mean I’m here to do something special”. I grew up in an environment that did not nurture my dreams or abilities, yet I knew right around Wadley’s age that I was supposed to do more. I was supposed to make a difference. That I was to be more than what was expected of me. Wadley’s courage and determination to learn and “be more” reminded me of that little girl inside of me. It was a feeling I went home with and couldn’t shake, and it motivated me to figure out what that “something” was.

What advice would you give to someone looking to find his or her own voice?

My goal is to always show our audience that local, personalized action is incredibly meaningful. You’re a bright light to prove exactly that.

How do you keep from getting discouraged, as you’re commenting on an issue such as female empowerment and gender bias that can feel so big and overwhelming?

Finding your own voice… I still work on that everyday. Realizing that what I have to say is worth being said and valuable. Many people think I have found those answers in myself, but I’m always striving to be better. I think the key is working together. Lifting each other up, it is vital to be surrounded by people that do that for you and others. But it starts with you; you have to be that person as well. Get rid of the negative self-talk. Speak words that empower and inspire yourself and others.

I was discouraged my whole life by the people around me. You can’t be an artist. Your not this, you’re too that. Discouraged from being my authentic self in every way. Today, I’m rarely discouraged.

I am the proof in the pudding that you can be whatever you set your mind to. Do whatever you believe you can do. We make a difference one person at a time. We have to start with ourselves. Push through the bias and prove them wrong. If I get discouraged it would be like saying, “You’re right. It will never happen. It will never change.” I refuse to believe that.

Ready to capture the feeling that inspired Girl Noticed? Watch the GR film or get the book today. Then, let us know what you think!