Behind the scenes: A biopic on the life of Helen Reddy who sang '70s feminist anthem, 'I AM WOMAN'

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"I AM A WOMAN" is directed and produced by Unjoo Moon, an Australian film director.
"I AM A WOMAN" is directed and produced by Unjoo Moon, an Australian film director.
  • I AM WOMAN is a biopic that tells the heartening story of well-known Australian singer, Helen Reddy.
  • The film traces Helen’s life from the ages of 24 to 48, showcasing the courageous determination of a woman who broke through the patriarchal norms of society to become an international feminist icon. 
  • In exclusive interviews with W24, director and producer Unjoo Moon and Tilda Cobham-Hervey who plays the lead as Helen chat about the film and its relevance for younger generations.

“I do remember that when [Helen Reddy’s] music used to come on the radio, how my mother and her friend used to suddenly wind down the window and let their hair loose in the breeze and sing along really loudly. So I always equated her music with making women stronger and bolder,” says I AM WOMAN director, Unjoo Moon. 

The motivation behind the film 

According to Unjoo, she was motivated to make “I AM WOMAN” because she wanted to create something that inspired and uplifted viewers. She wanted to produce a film that, afterward, made viewers feel that they had spent their time wisely, watching something worthwhile. 

“Initially, I think that I really wanted to make this film because it was the kind of story that I wanted to see. Quite often, I would go to the cinema, and I'd be looking at a bunch of titles of what to watch. And, you know, a lot of them are really quite violent. And it wasn't how I wanted to spend my two and a half hours,” she says. 

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Another big motivating factor behind the creation of the film was realising that Helen Reddy’s story had never been told. 

“I spent a year with [Helen] researching the story before we agreed to make it into a movie, and when I realised the depth of what her story was about, and the journey that she'd gone on, not only as an artist, but as a woman, and the decisions that she had to make in her life, I just really felt like that's the kind of film that I want to see,” says Unjoo. 

Helen Reddy, I am a woman, Unjoo Moon, Tilda Cobha
Playing the lead as Helen Reddy is Australian actress, Tilda Cobham-Hervey. All images supplied by the production

Embodying the inspirational Helen Reddy 

According to lead actress, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, playing the main character of Helen Reddy was both an honour and a learning experience. 

“I mean, she's such an extraordinary woman and just being able to fit into her shoes and learn about her life, from the inside out, was extremely special and deeply changed me,” she says. 

According to Tilda, playing the character of Helen ultimately helped to boost her own confidence, as it allowed her to embody a few of Reddy’s most admirable characteristics. 

“I was so inspired by her bravery and her determination and her ambition […] She’s such a confident woman, and she's so sure about what she wanted. And I think, from having to play out some of those things in her life, a bit of that confidence sort of rubbed off on me, and that was a really lovely gift of being a part of this,” says Tilda. 

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Getting to learn about Helen’s life and how she paved the way for future generations of female artists, was a highlight of making the film, says Tilda. 

“What she did for women [who] wanted to be artists, I think is really, really special to honor,” she says. 

Helen Reddy, I am a woman, Unjoo Moon, Tilda Cobha
"I AM WOMAN" was directed and produced by Australian film director, Unjoo Moon. 

The film’s relevance for younger generations 

Tilda believes that the relevance of the film lies in how it provides younger generations with the opportunity to learn about the women who came before them, who fought for the lives we live today. 

“You know, without people like Helen, I don't think we would have had things like the #metoo movement and the #timesup movement. I think it goes on from the work that women of her generation did for us. And I think that, unfortunately, there's a lot of the things that they've done that is still very relevant to today's world, to women today,” says Tilda. 

Helen Reddy, I am a woman, Unjoo Moon, Tilda Cobha
According to Tilda, some of her favourite parts of the film include the performance scenes. 

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Similarly, according to Unjoo, when she first started working on the screenplay in 2017, the worldwide women’s marches had just begun, which worked to echo the significance of the film and its message of female empowerment. 

“Here I was in 2017, in Washington, and I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which is where Helen stands at the end of my film, and I looked at this sea of pink hats. And I saw a woman walk past with a sign saying ‘hear me roar,’ words from Helen Reddy’s song…and it just became so relevant in that moment,” says Unjoo.

Unjoo is thrilled that the film is coming to South Africa. “I know that in South Africa, there are so many gender equality issues [ and I hope] that people not only find the film entertaining, but also that it'll be inspiring for the kind of issues that are being discovered right now,” adds Unjoo.

I AM WOMAN is now available on DStv’s BoxOffice. 

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