An open letter to girls everywhere: Anna Silk, actor and Plan Canada’s newest Celebrated Ambassador, on what makes us brave
Anna Silk is a Canadian actor, star of the hit show Lost Girl, and Plan Canada’s newest Celebrated Ambassador raising awareness about the Because I am a Girl initiative to end gender inequality and promote girls’ rights.
What makes us brave
Because I am a Girl is an incredible initiative I recently started working with. Providing aid, creating opportunities, giving hope and working to end gender inequality for girls worldwide, it’s an initiative I paid close attention to for years, happy to support their efforts and simultaneously wishing there was no need for them. When they asked me to join them as an official ambassador, I was honoured and jumped at the chance. I felt I had a lot to offer and was eager to get started.
In celebration of the International Day of the Girl, I was invited to write a letter to girls everywhere, as a guest post on their blog. Deeply humbled, I immediately sat down to think about what I would write. Well, let me tell you, nothing makes you question exactly what it is you have to offer until you are tasked with such an endeavor. I felt stuck. I felt unworthy. I felt scared.
“Bravery and courage have been a lifelong struggle for me…What this led to was a young girl and young woman too afraid to speak her mind.”
Many fans think I’m brave because of the characters I’ve played on screen, often commenting on it when I’m lucky enough to meet them. For five seasons, I played Bo Dennis on the show, Lost Girl. It was a dream role for me as an actor, getting to be a part of something so creative and challenging every day, while surrounded by the industry’s most incredibly talented cast and crew. As if that wasn’t enough, I also got to wear amazing outfits and kick some serious butt. It was the ultimate experience in girl empowerment. Bo is tough, and cool, and smart. She is also scared, and an outsider, but in spite of this Bo is brave.
But bravery is not easy for Bo, and like this character, bravery and courage have been a lifelong struggle for me. Growing up, I was very insecure and wanted nothing more than to fit in and be liked by everybody. What this led to was a young girl and young woman too afraid to speak her mind. It took me years of pushing through, despite how I felt, to finally have the courage to really and truly speak my mind, and not let outside energies compromise my self-worth – to stop allowing others to define who I was. What that journey taught me is that to be brave means trying when you are scared; pushing forward even when you are unsure; and speaking up even though you might feel like what you have to say doesn’t have value. It does have value. I learned that every day, you must continue to face in the direction you want to go.
“To be brave means trying when you are scared; pushing forward even when you are unsure; and speaking up even though you might feel like what you have to say doesn’t have value.”
Recently I attended a sci-fi convention in Atlanta, and I got the chance to connect with Lost Girl fans – something I hadn’t done in a while. I encountered so many wonderful people who shared with me their incredible stories of joy and of sorrow. But, I also met one girl I will never forget. She came to see me several days in a row, but she was very shy. She didn’t say much – just smiled and went on her way.
On the third day she came to see me, I could tell she had something to say but was struggling to get it out. I looked at her and told her it was ok, and she decided to share several things. She told me that she had travelled from another country – over 5,000 miles – just to see me and talk to me. She had been severely bullied her whole life by a close family member, and she wanted me to know that seeing Bo had made her brave. And at times when this girl wanted to give up, Bo inspired her to push forward.
Now I was the speechless one.
The irony of the situation was that this beautiful soul was standing there telling me how brave she thought Bo was – how brave she thought I was – when in reality she was the one who was brave. Despite being bullied for years by someone that was supposed to show her love, she still pushed forward, choosing to find hope and strength. Working to overcome and choosing to survive. And on top of all that, having the courage to share her story is the embodiment of human bravery. She wanted to thank me, but truly, she’s the one to be admired. Did she feel brave? Probably not. But she is.
“I can, however, tell you some things that I know to be true. You matter. You are loved. You are brave.”
When I think of you, of all the amazing girls around the world – some struggling to survive in challenging circumstances and oppressive situations – I cannot begin to imagine what that must be like. I can, however, tell you some things that I know to be true. You matter. You are loved. You are brave.
As girls, as women, as a community and as a world, we must continue to face in the direction we want to go. We must support each other and advocate for each other. My hope for you is that you continue to face in the direction you want to go and that you push against any barrier that tries to stop you. And that a time will come when you have a chance to speak up and help and inspire those around you. You must take that chance. While bravery can be one grand act of courage, what I have ultimately learned from my own experience and from witnessing it in others, is that bravery is the sum of each decision you make, how you treat others, and how you treat yourself.
So, in honour of International Day of the Girl, girls everywhere, and anyone reading, I salute your bravery and am deeply touched and in awe of it, and of you, every single day.
More from Anna Silk
- How actress Anna Silk used Pink LemonAID to support girls’ rights!
- How the star of Lost Girl, actress Anna Silk, is creating a brighter future for girls