Morasch of Fulbright College Featured in Upcoming Apple Documentary

Morasch speaking at the 2022 session of ALA Missouri Girls State
Courtesy of ALA Missouri Girls State

Morasch speaking at the 2022 session of ALA Missouri Girls State

Charis Morasch experienced the surprise of a lifetime this March.

Morasch, a freshman majoring in political science in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, was a 2022 delegate to American Legion Auxiliary Missouri Girls State, a program that hosts around 700 young women from across the state to build a municipal, county and state government from the ground up. Established in 1935 by the American Legion Auxiliary, the program gives its delegates, rising high school seniors, the opportunity to engage in political discussion, attend schools of instruction, hear from a variety of speakers and even run for office. The 2022 session, unlike years past, was the subject of a documentary titled Girls State, filmed on site at Lindenwood University during the titular program's 80th session.

During her time at ALA Missouri Girls State, Morasch ran a campaign for governor, passed the bar exam to become a licensed attorney, was elected to her party's state central committee and performed as a percussionist with the Girls State band. Now, she serves annually as part of the program's fully-volunteer staff to guide younger politics and government enthusiasts during their own delegate years. As she began her studies as a Razorback, she awaited the opportunity to view the documentary for herself.

That 21-month wait came to an end in March when Girls State was screened at the 2024 True/False Film Festival at the University of Missouri.

"When I walked into Jesse Hall for the screening, I was in awe. There were thousands of people who had never heard of ALA MGS before, or who were there as film aficionados, all in the auditorium to hear our story," Morasch said. Over 1,700 individuals attended the screening. Having spoken with other staff members, Morasch knew that she would appear in the film. However, when the lights dimmed, the first voice she expected to hear was not her own.

"My gubernatorial campaign speech played first thing," Morasch said. "I sat there in tears, watching my 17-year-old self speak encouragingly to a roomful of people she never knew she'd get to meet." Candidates for each office — governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general — from both parties, the fictional Federalists and Nationalists, spoke before their peers at their party's convention. As a candidate for governor, Morasch was among them. She says her speech aimed to empower her fellow delegates by reminding them of their unique strengths as women. "I wanted to emphasize that there's this societal expectation that women have to dress and debate like men do to be heard, and that that's just not true. Femininity is powerful, and I wanted to let my peers know that that's something to be celebrated."

Morasch was also featured later in the film as an instrumentalist. She'd performed a song titled "Dance of the Hippolollipops" on marimba for her fellow delegates. As she would find out, that piece had been integrated into the score of the film, cutting to shots of her performance.

Girls State follows the experiences of several young women throughout their time as delegates to ALA Missouri Girls State, demonstrating resiliency and collaboration across varying ideologies in an ever-widening political divide. Captured along the way is the dynamic of ALA Missouri Girls State's first-ever co-hosted session with its brother program, Missouri Boys State. It makes note of Missouri's unique demographic composition, ranging from Kansas City and St. Louis to a variety of colleges and universities to many rural areas.

"Attending Girls State taught me invaluable lessons about connecting as people beyond our differences that have given me the ability to form incredible relationships since coming to the U of A," Morasch said. "That message shines through the film, and I hope viewers will take those lessons with them. No matter how different we consider ourselves to be, at heart, we're more similar than we may expect."


Apple Original Film Girls State, directed by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, will become available to stream on Apple TV+ on April 5.

Contacts

Charis Morasch, undergraduate student
Department of Political Science
816-678-6142, cmorasch@uark.edu

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