SZA is the stage name of Solána Imani Rowe, a 27-year-old soul singer born in St. Louis, Missouri, but raised in a predominately white suburb of New Jersey. Raised by a Christian mother and Muslim father, she hopped between their faiths as a kid and now practices Islam. As a girl, she wore a hijab until bullying following the September 11th attacks forced her to stop.
First, it’s a girl power film. As the parents of two young girls, my wife and I have been compiling a list of movies we’ll show them when they’re old enough… movies that take on gender stereotypes and present realistic, positive female characters in lead roles. Films such as Bend it Like Beckham, Bring it On, Ever After and Whale Rider (my favorite), to name a few. And of course we have seven whole seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer waiting patiently on the shelf.
Whip It might just be the most girl-power-y girl-power movie yet. It follows small-town Texas teen Bliss Cavendar (played by Juno‘s Ellen Page) as she is awakened from a malaise brought on by her job at a dead-end diner and her mother’s fixation on beauty pageants. What she falls in love with isn’t anything glamorous or fancy, and it isn’t a guy — it’s roller derby.