Why do women drink? why do women binge drink? Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/firsthand/features/meet-the-girls-night-out-town-hall-panel-participants
Jen McNeely (age 36) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Shedoesthecity. In 2007, Shedoesthecity began as an email that Jen would send to her friends, chronicling colourful tales of her late night debauchery. Jen used to drink (hard) several nights a week, always attending the ‘it’ parties. It was fun until it wasn’t, at all.
Anchored in the world of partying and nightlife, Jen was convinced that Shedoesthecity would die when she stopped drinking, but it transformed into a space where she shared her story of recovery, where other women have also shared their stories. Shedoesthecity now receives nearly 2 million visitors annually.
This past fall, Jen celebrated her fifth year of sobriety, and is enjoying life with her partner and two-year-old son in Toronto’s west end. She agreed to being in Girls’ Night Out because she believes that society’s interpretation of alcoholism is outdated, and that the stigma associated with being an alcoholic prevents people from getting help. But most importantly, participating in this documentary allows Jen to share with a wide audience of young women, younger versions of herself, that they are not alone, and that life without drinking is not only doable, but also beautiful. Jen has also written for Toronto Life, FASHION Magazine, NOW and The Globe and Mail.
Born and raised in downtown Toronto, Cara (age 30) started drinking late in the world of bingers (21), but still experienced her fair share of late nights. Cara has a passion for the arts and is currently pursuing a career in acting in Canada and south of the border. She is very proud to have contributed her story to the film, Girls’ Night Out.
Adriana (age 24) currently lives in Toronto, working as a clinical nutritionist in the corporate world. Sarcastic to a fault, this 24 year old could possibly be the most anti-social extrovert in the city. Raised by her mother Kathryn, she dreamt of being a part-time actress, part-time doctor. Unfortunately, those two career goals didn’t quite cross paths.
Adriana began drinking at age 17 and spent her early twenties in the fast lane partying. Adriana admits that being a part of the film forced her to acknowledge what she went through and made her proud of how much she’s grown since she hit a low. Now unlike her friends, she would rather take a nap than go to the bar. In her spare time, you’ll find her cooking, enjoying the outdoors and doing Pilates.
Kelsi Byers (age 28) is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in communication studies, as well as a proud alumnus of its varsity cheerleading team. Born & raised in Saugeen Shores, Kelsi’s journey of recovery started on June 6, 2013 when she finally asked for help after struggling with prolonged alcoholism & eventual drug abuse. Her sparkly smile currently resides in Toronto where she remains the life of the party and works as a social media specialist.
Kelsi’s hopes that by sharing parts of her story she can encourage someone who’s struggled like she did to reach out for help. She wants young women to know they can re-build their lives and become success stories during recovery. It’s important to Kelsi that we continue the conversation so women don’t have to live in fear, shame and embarrassment of what has happened to them. Today Kelsi focuses on living one day at a time, and pursues recovery with her customary passion & vigor.
Phyllis Ellis has worked in film and television for 20 years, as an actor, director, producer and writer, creating critically acclaimed and award-winning films and television across genres. She recently finished the beautiful and acclaimed feature documentary Painted Country: In Search of the Group of Seven for TVO with White Pine Pictures.
In 2013, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television awarded Ellis the Donald Brittain Award for Best Social-Political Documentary for About Her, a feature-length documentary she wrote, directed and produced, chronicling the lives of five women struggling with breast cancer.
Ellis has worked in documentary, drama and lifestyle programming. She was nominated for a 2006 Gemini for Best Direction, Lifestyle Series for Made to Order and has a 2007 Gemini nomination for Best Director in a Documentary series for Crystal: Living the Dream. She also co-created and directed the Gemini-winning comedies The Wilkinsons and Three Chords from the Truth (Movie Central and Chorus).
Ellis has produced two award-winning feature films, both premiering at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. She is proud to have been an Olympic athlete, competing for Canada in the 1984 Games.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.