WILMINGTON – Giada De Laurentiis visited the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 26, as part of a two-day event to raise funds for the school. The Food Network star spoke with students and, later, talked about how the Women’s March, held in cities all over the country this past weekend, “shook people.”
The Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW), is a charter school dedicated to empowering young women and closing “achievement and opportunity gaps.” The school focuses on educating students early about career and continuing education. De Laurentiis visited classrooms at GLOW to talk to the students about finding a career in the culinary world.
Though the Emmy-winning network chef works in a field often dominated by male personalities, De Laurentiis was quick to point out the influential women in her life, including her grandmother, as well as GLOW founder and former Food Network president Judy Girard.
De Laurentiis told students, “I was a young woman, and a little naïve, and miss Judy was a lovely woman, and she helped me through my early years, some of which were tough.” De Laurentiis told a sixth-grade class, “I was young, and I didn’t know everything. I was 12 once.”
Girard said of De Laurentiis’ visit, “the most important thing is that she engaged the students, the young women, and asked them what they think. She asked them what they like doing, and suggested, in her gentle way, that the thing you like doing the most might be the thing you should do for a living.”
After visiting with students, De Laurentiis answered questions about her trip, saying she hoped to inspire students who needed only a “little nudge” to achieve great things.
“For me, because of what I’ve been able to achieve, I feel that if you give other girls, other women, the hope, that little glimmer of hope, that’s really all they need to skyrocket to do whatever they want,” De Laurentiis said. “I have an 8-year-old daughter, so I know what it’s like, to have young girls like this look up to you for inspiration and hope, that there is so much more for them. So, it’s an honor to be here.”
De Laurentiis also spoke about the reverberations of last week’s Women’s March. Standing in front of a chalk board that addressed the very serious issues of racism and privilege, De Laurentiis said:
“I think it’s been important, for a long time. I think that last weekend everybody sort of remembered. It kind of shook people, and they realized, ‘oh my goodness, this has been an issue forever, we just haven’t been paying attention to it.’”
De Laurentis continued, “We all get busy in our lives, right? We get into our worlds and we lose track of the bigger picture. So I think last weekend reminded us that we need to step up. We need to come together, and not against anyone in particular, but just help each other out and support each other so we can get to the next level.
She added with a smile, “where we can rule the world of course.”
Giada De Laurentiis is something of a Wilmington legacy, as her grandfather Dino DeLaurentiis founded the first film studio in the city. After producing “Firestarter” in 1983, then-governor James Hunt created an early version of the tax credit system, allowing Dino De Laurentiis to build the studio that became the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and eventually Screen Gems.
Giada De Laurentiis remembers her time visiting her grandfather fondly.
“I was about 11 or 12 when I came out, and I remember with my siblings riding around that movie studio in golf carts, crashing into each other, causing all sorts of ruckus,” she said.
De Laurentiis’ visit to the area follows one last year by Chef Emeril Lagasse, who raised $260,000 for GLOW. Like Lagasse did, De Laurentiis will also cook for donors, both in a large-format lunch to be taped for the Food Network, and a private dinner.
Visit GLOW’s website for more information about the school.
VIDEO: Watch De Laurentiis field questions from students and, later, talk about the impact of the Women’s March.