Daniella Ponticelli

What is it that empowers you most?
Knowing I have the choice to live life fully. Regardless of whatever external factors contribute to a circumstance, I have the ability to choose how I think and act in this world. It doesn't mean climbing a mountain each day, or being happy all the time; simply showing up and being present makes me a more conscious member of society. Understanding that I choose to seize opportunities and learn from challenges empowers me to dream big and live larger.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my relentless desire to communicate! Those who know me, know I love long, rich conversations about anything and everything. I love this about me because it's a free way to live a better, fuller life, and an exercise in living in the present. It isn't just something I enjoy, it's something I need to sustain my soul: connecting with people, hearing how they experience life, and discussing ideas. It sounds so studious when I write it down, but we actually share ideas (the good, the bad and otherwise). What a marvelous gift I get to give and receive again and again!

What makes you feel most beautiful?
When I unleash a loud hearty laugh - with friends or by myself! It's a moment where nothing else matters except this outburst of unbelievable joy. I love my smile - i love to smile - so naturally, this is me at my most beautiful. My laugh lines will be well-earned and appreciated.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I left this question for last because naming one person is a challenge; I've been raised by a village when I think of the teachers, mentors and leaders who have shaped my life. But someone I can always look to as an example of a life fully lived is Nelson Mandela. I grew up in South Africa under his leadership, but only now appreciate his lessons. Mandela knew patience, understood the power of education and never gave up on his dream. He changed the world, this one person, and has a legacy that continues the conversation of equality.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why? 
Right now, there are two women whose stories I carry with me as I face a new transition professionally and personally: Oprah Winfrey and Robin Roberts. Both are cultural heroines because they decided to take up space in this world and empower others to do the same. Both are grateful in the midst of great success, and neither has lost sight of who she is and where she came from. To be a true heroine means overcoming obstacles (where do I begin with these ladies!), but more than that it's understanding the responsibility that comes with the title. They continue to share their wisdom with others, and act as living reminders that life is yours to live. And they just so happen to be pretty fierce females.

It’s something I need to sustain my soul: connecting with people, hearing how they experience life, and discussing ideas.

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Since I recently visited Harry Potter World, I choose Hermoine Granger. She craves knowledge (to the annoyance of some), and is she's always down to try something new. Even if it's terrifying. Flying around Hogwarts, making potions and trying out some advanced spells -  yeah, Hermoine Granger is awesome.

What is your biggest life goal?
To somehow, in a small or profound way, make a positive difference for those who follow. The next generation is an incredible marvel: human beings can create change knowing others will live a better life.  I want to contribute to that.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
In my short life so far, I believe my biggest accomplishment has been trusting myself. Sounds simple, but trusting yourself means knowing your worth and believing you can do great things - even when others don't. It doesn't exempt mistakes, it takes ownership and develops wisdom. It took some time for me to trust myself, but it's been a valuable practice both professionally and personally.

What is (one) of your favourite quote(s)?
“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams" - Oprah Winfrey.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
I would tell her gently  (I remember 12-year-old me) that mistakes are your greatest ally in this journey of life : make them, learn, live and love. With that, don't forget to be your own friend; stop being so hard on yourself and accept all challenges with gratitude. (I know she'll have a hard time with that last one, but I believe in her.)

What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism means actively striving to create a society of equal opportunity. Doing so positively to build up young women and men for a life of equality. Taking a stand against myths and misguided perceptions that perpetuate inequality.  It can be challenging work, but everyone is capable of practicing feminism in small or profound ways.

Daniella is a video journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba.