Phebe Wahl Phebe Wahl | April 14, 2021 | Lifestyle Feature
Both on-screen playing superheroes, queens and other leading ladies, and behind the camera with a powerful new docuseries, Gal Gadot’s celebration of resilience is the superpower that just might save us all.
Growing up as a little girl, I was mesmerized by Wonder Woman’s golden lasso. The superhero’s secret weapon transformed even the most menacing villains—forcing them to face their own honest truths. There was such a healing power, exposing the vulnerable humanity of even the most hardened characters. Imagine being able to save the world by revealing our deepest truths? Now that’s power.
Determined to not fall prey to cliche comparisons equating Gal Gadot to Wonder Woman, I tried to not get distracted by the obvious pitfalls. There’s the otherworldly beauty and clearly superior physique—I mean she’s a beauty queen who trained with the Israeli special forces; she was basically born for the role. It is hardly a leap of the imagination to see how this woman can easily join her fellow caped crusaders on-screen, yet Gadot’s power that truly disarms me is her deep empathy.
“I feel so grateful for having the broad reach that I have with my fans and playing Wonder Woman,” she says. “I wanted to use this power and navigate it into doing more good in the world.” Gadot partnered with National Geographic on a new series called Impact with Gal Gadot. The short-form docuseries, executive produced by Gadot and her husband, Jaron Varsano, with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth, tells the inspiring story of six remarkable women around the world. Despite devastating circumstances, these women serve as beacons of hope in their communities.
By the second episode I am a puddle of tears. The episode profiles a trauma therapist in Half Moon Bay, Calif., who lost her twin sister to COVID-19 and is turning her grief into impact by healing women through surf therapy. Later, I am deeply touched by the story of Tuany, a young and resilient ballet teacher who uplifts young girls through dance (literally dodging bullets) in the middle of one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas. “I completely fell in love with her story and how special this woman is,” explains Gadot. “We built a whole concept around her story. The whole idea was to find stories about extraordinary women who, despite living in areas that are filled with violence, poverty, trauma, discrimination, oppression or natural disaster, whatever it might be, remain focused on doing good… making a change and having a positive impact in their communities by standing out, mentoring, speaking up and leading. That was the dream—to create a community of people who want to do good. It can start small but have a great impact,” she says. “They prove that anyone can make a difference in their community no matter how difficult the circumstances are—through resilience and passion... which is currently a very important message as the world recovers from this difficult year and looks for signs of hope.”
Resilience and hope seem to be threads woven throughout Gadot’s own story. “I think it all started with my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor,” she explains when asked about where she gets her signature strength. “Despite everything he went through and despite the fact that he lost his entire family, he had no hatred, no hate in him. He was all about giving back and doing good deeds. … That really stuck with me.”
Apart from a brief introduction, Gadot’s voice is decidedly absent from the Impact series, which was a conscious choice. “I wanted to use my leverage as far as shedding light on their stories and have people start the conversation… but at the end of the day, I’m not the hero—they are. They are the heroes of their stories. I wanted this whole show to be completely about them because they are so special,” she says. “These women are all determined; they all understand and have a clear vision of how things should be in their communities. They’re not afraid to act.”
And act is exactly what Gadot wants us all to do. “I hope it’s going to inspire people to do good and act because small acts can essentially have huge influence. I hope that it’s going to make people feel that they’re not alone with their struggles. And I really, really hope that we’re going to be able to create the community for people to really support each other.”
Gadot says recently she has been focusing on female stories, like Impact in particular, with her production company, Pilot Wave. “I’m interested in telling a story from a female point of view because that’s something that I naturally connect with,” she says. “I want to bring good things. I want to inspire people to do good and bring more positivity to the world.”
For all her serious and impactful endeavors, Gadot has a more lighthearted side as well. “I definitely have a lighter side and I like a good sense of humor,” she says, acknowledging that she seems to gravitate toward female power roles. Up next, Gadot will star as the “world’s greatest thief” in Netflix film Red Notice, as the lead in Agatha Christie’s long-awaited mystery thriller Death on the Nile, as the iconic Hedy Lamarr in an eightepisode series on Apple TV+, and as the one and only Cleopatra in an upcoming film with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins. “There is some similarity to the roles that I’m attracted to. … Not to say that I’m a princess warrior or the queen of Egypt or anything like that—but I’m attracted to powerful women who are strong and have a strong vision about life. But, of course, behind the camera I’m just like anybody else. I’m a normal person who loves to be silly,” she says. “I really struggle with what a lot of people are struggling with—just life and raising children and work and family.”
There she goes again with that disarming lasso of truth. Like her superhero alter ego, it is the vulnerable humanity that is Gadot’s most powerful weapon. “I always say that we’re all one and we’re all connected around the world. We all suffer from similar things and we all deal with similar issues, and I think that people are looking to connect to other humans, especially after... this year that we just experienced. People are looking for inspiration around them to see what connects us to each other and to see how we can support one another. I truly hope that Impact creates inspiration, but also the acts of kindness that will create good in this world.”
Photography by: Photos by Duding Hassan; Stylist: Meital Weinberg Adar; Hair: Sagi Dahary; Makeup: Asaf Babo