December 27, 2019
Mensches, movers and shakers: Genevieve Clay-Smith
As part of our Be A Mensch campaign, we are highlighting people within the broader Australian community who are doing good, making a difference, challenging stigmas and promoting inclusivity, respect and kindness.
We sat down with Genevieve Clay-Smith, founder of Bus Stop Films, to find out what sparked her mission to see the film industry more representative and inclusive of people with disabilities.
SJM: What impact has Bus Stop Films had in providing representation in film?
Genevieve: Bus Stop has been leading the charge in Australia and globally when it comes to inclusive filmmaking for 10 years. Since 2009, we have provided over 350 work placements for people with intellectual disability in the film industry, made 25 inclusive films which have screened across the globe, and we have advocated for inclusive filmmaking at Disney HQ in Burbank, the BBC, ABC and Screen Australia through various presentations and conversations with executive leadership. The current audience reach of our inclusive films is at 48 million. We have been working at a grassroots capacity to effect change for a decade and we are finally seeing change happen, which is very exciting!
SJM: How would you encourage other people to find a space to make positive change? How do you find a gap?
Genevieve: Finding a gap happens when you notice something that you think could be done better, or you believe isn’t right. I didn’t think it was right that the film industry, our industry of shared stories, should be exclusive. I noticed this issue because, having worked with Down Syndrome NSW, I learned about the inequality people with disability face. I became aware of the fact that society was segregated and not inclusive of people with disability. Then I recognised this issue in my own industry.
SJM: What have been some key learnings in your career so far?
Genevieve: I’ve learned so many things, but some of the biggest lessons in my career so far is learning to trust my instincts and learning more about the importance of balance. I have, at times, let work become the top priority and living like that isn’t sustainable. I’ve worked when I’ve been beyond burn out, and it’s not healthy. Switching off and having a balanced life is an incredibly important thing; taking time to rest and replenish is getting harder and harder these days when you have access to emails 24/7. So it’s important that we make time for it.
SJM: If you had one message for Australians today what would it be?
Genevieve: It doesn’t take much to make a difference, all you have to do is be inclusive. Inclusion isn’t hard and it won’t slow you down. Your life and the lives of the people you include will be enriched because of the act of inclusion.