was born in New York City and raised in South Texas. She is a 20-year old
television journalist, producer, and filmmaker. Her work has been featured on
ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox News. Verma received her M.S. with honors from Columbia
University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She currently works as an anchor for NBC2 News and is
founder of the nonprofit organization Global Health Foundation. (Hardy official site)
W&H: Please give us your
description of the film playing.
NV: Hardy is the inspirational, true story
of a female boxer named Heather Hardy from Brooklyn, NY, who rises above the
gender inequalities in professional boxing and aspires to become a world
champion. We chronicle her battle to raise her daughter while pursuing a
difficult relationship with her demanding trainer, who is also her lover.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
NV: When I
first met Heather at Gleason’s Gym, she was homeless amid Hurricane Sandy,
raising her daughter as a single mother. She had nothing but two hands and an
unbreakable will. Heather is a true inspiration. Her attitude to prove her
worth in a male-dominated industry drew me to this important story about gender
inequality. Boxing was the last sport where women were allowed to compete, though women have been fighting for centuries.
W&H: What was the biggest
challenge in making the film?
NV: As a
journalist, I want to reveal all sides of the story. Heather’s income pales in
comparison to that of her male counterparts in the sport and, as a woman, she
must go the extra mile to prove herself. It was a challenge to reveal this
reality, but we were successful by weaving her personal story with one-on-one
interviews with world-class boxers, promoters, and managers.
W&H: What do you want people to
think about when they are leaving the theater?
NV: I want
them to feel inspired and motivated to take on their next great challenge. I
want to start a conversation about gender inequality, which is still a pressing
W&H: What advice do you have for
other female directors?
NV: Stick to
your guns. Not only was Heather entering a male-dominated sport, but I was too
with my film crew. We wanted the truth as to why women weren’t getting paid
enough, and we weren’t going to back down. In Hardy, we decode the rise and fall of women’s boxing, and what needs to be done to sustain the sport.
W&H: What’s the biggest
misconception about you and your work?
amount of time involved. Our crew spent two years with Heather. We never gave
up when the going got tough. Sure, it also helps when your documentary subject
is an inspiration herself!
W&H: How did you get your film
NV: This film
is a crowdsource baby. It would not have been possible without the overwhelming
support of Hardy fans. We also
received a Women in Film grant.
W&H: Name your favorite women-directed
film and why.
NV: One of my
favorites is Gabriela Cowperthwaite Blackfish, a fascinating
and well-crafted documentary about killer whales in captivity, particularly at
SeaWorld. It’s had the same impact as Super
Size Me investigating McDonald’s.