Women working in science and technology is not only more common, it’s incredibly topical. From the FLOTUS’s “Let Girls Learn” campaign to a supermodel who codes, women are more encouraged than ever to master subjects usually dominated by men. And Netflix has certainly taken notes.
Project Mc2 — a female-driven show about kick-ass young spies who utilize their knowledge of science and tech to save the day — returns today on the popular and beloved streaming service. We spoke with one of the show’s stars, Sarah Desjardins, on the show’s role in empowering young women, and making it known that smart is certainly the new cool.
Just this week, First Lady Michelle Obama’s documentary, We Will Rise, aired on CNN. The documentary focuses on the importance of education for women around the world, in every field. Karlie Kloss, a model who takes the occasional business class at Harvard, currently runs a scholarship fund and camp called Kode With Klossy, which encourages young women interested in pursuing careers in coding. Today, more and more young women are taking initiative to enter these fields, and shows like Project Mc2 are certainly doing their part.
“It sets such a good example for young girls and is very empowering,” Desjardins says. “Fighting evil with science? Sign me up! Not to mention, she’s a female 007. How could I ever pass that up?”
Sarah Desjardins plays Maddy McAlister, a spy and sister to fellow teen spy McKeyla, on whom the show focuses. While she may not have spy experience, Desjardins shares where she found comfort in playing Maddy.
“I most relate to her instincts towards her sister McKeyla,” she tells us. “She wants to encourage, empower, and protect her. Having a younger brother myself, I have always wanted to help him achieve his full potential.”
While a show about female spies may at first seem wholesome and amiable, the premise of the show lies in the idea of women using science and technology to help them succeed. Desjardins understood these underlying tones, and the weight that they held.
“I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to take part in something like this. Project Mc2‘s slogan is ‘Smart is the New Cool’, and I think it’s so important to show this by example to the younger generation.”
Maybe her desire to take on a role that inspire young women to go after these fields can be traced back to her own history with them. While she may not be a modern-day MacGyver, Desjardins does have a history with technology, as she shared with us.
“When I was younger, I actually did a lot of video editing for fun,” the Vancouver native says. “So, you could say that I’m tech savvy! But I definitely brushed up on my knowledge. The girls use S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as their main methods to save the world. I definitely depended on [my coworkers] Mika, Victoria, Ysa and Genneya to show me the ropes, and educate me further. They’re the seasoned veterans after all.”
And if you thought filming a spy show was cool, you would be right. Desjardins had the opportunity to step into a few action scenes while filming, although she certainly had a little help.
“Being the super spy that I am in the show, I had the opportunity to confront some bad guys! I did my first ever fight sequence and that was a cool experience. I had a wonderful stunt double, Allison del Cid, who definitely made me look cooler than I am, but I actually got to do a lot of it myself which was extremely exciting.”
If boss female spies saving the world isn’t your speed (although, we’re not sure why), perhaps you might enjoy another project Desjardins is currently involved with. She is currently guest starring in Syfy’s Van Helsing, quite the departure from the lighter nature of Project Mc2.
“My character Catherine comes in with a group of refugees that Vanessa and Mohamad bring back to the hospital. She’s definitely not what she seems at first. She’s very tough and has a motherly instinct toward Callie, a younger girl in our group, but there’s a lot of fear going on inside her as well.”
And if neither of those strike your fancy, don’t write her off yet! Desjardins has roles a slew of new shows, in a variety of genres sure to appeal to everyone.
“I have a few ‘Movies of the Week’ that have yet to be released including Lifetime’s Drink, Slay, Love starring Cierra Ramirez and Gregg Sulkin. I also guest star on Imaginary Mary, a new comedy for ABC coming out mid-season.”
It’s clear to anyone that Desjardins has a soft spot for empowering young women with the strong roles she’s picked. Before we let her go, we wanted to know what advice Desjardins would give to readers who want to work in science, but don’t feel they can.
“Do not feel discouraged. If there is something you are passionate about go after it. There are not enough women involved in this field as it is. There is nothing more beautiful than a smart, confident young lady!”
After all, Desjardins herself had to overcome personal obstacles to get to where she is today. She shared her triumph over her struggles when she was first starting out as an actress.
“When I was younger I was cripplingly shy, and didn’t know who I was and that’s okay. Finding my passion and striving towards my goals brought me out of my shell and allowed me to grow into myself and anyone can do that same exact thing.”
Project Mc2 is now streaming on Netflix, and Van Helsing airs on Fridays 10/9c on Syfy.