Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls At The Party Cofounder Meredith Walker on Helping Girls Change the World

by Lex Ellenthal

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party started off as a web series and is now a whole online community. They have a website, a Facebook page, and a Tumblr. Smart Girls encourages young women to be active in their communities and make a difference in the world. It’s an incredible organization, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to get to talk to one of its founders, Meredith Walker.

What made you want to start Smart Girls?

It came from being up late at night talking about growing up. The great things, the tough things. We said if we ever get a chance to do something like this that we are doing, let’s take every opportunity that comes our way to make that happen. 

What different aspects are there to Smart Girls? If I’m not mistaken, it started off as a web series, but how have you grown it and added to it?

You are correct – we began as a web series because at the time it was the most accessible platform for us. We knew it was going to be about building a community so we developed the social media aspects of Smart Girls to be able to reach as many people as possible. It’s been an organic process. 

How did you come up with the name Smart Girls at the Party?

We wanted to encourage girls to be smart in the way we wanted to define it…..which means, curious, aware, interested. Our show is based not on the girl who is the finest pianist in the city, but the girl who loves playing the piano. Girls who change the world by being themselves. So a lot of what it means to be smart for us, is to be authentic.  

Was there every any concern that the name could be alienating or received negatively due to its implications that there are dumb girls and they’re being excluded? 

The way we have defined “smart girls” is, in fact,  inclusive and embraces everybody. It is not exclusionary.  

What’s it like working with someone as famous as Amy Poehler?

The Amy Poehler I know, is my really gifted, genuinely funny and kind hearted friend who I met when we were both finding our way in life. That’s who she is to me and I love her. 

What’s your favorite thing about Smart Girls, and what’s your favorite thing that Smart Girls has accomplished?

Being able to meet and connect with these young girls has been a significant part of my life, but the surprise came when I realized the effect we have on women of all ages. The message that we talked about late at night reaches across generations and it’s been a true gift for me to experience that.  The community of people we are building reaches across age, geography and economic status. That we can come together to pay attention to what we have in common more than those things that divide us, is the big whopper. 

What do you hope Smart Girls does in the future?

We want to see where it goes. To see the impact that one life can have on others is the foundation for the community we are building. Girls change the world by being themselves. If that is really taken to heart, think of what that will be like as more and more Smart Girls become Smart Women. 

How has Smart Girls changed your life? 

It has expanded my life. I have learned something from every girl and woman we’ve featured. We set out to encourage curiosity. The more of these people I meet, the more they inspire me.  And it’s been big fun. I mean, I got to climb a 6 story ladder on a fire truck – that isn’t something I would have done on my own.  

Rock on, Smart Girls!

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