BY ED HOWELL
DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE

Edie Hand has developed her “Women of True Grit” book into a new television show that will be airing Thursday, Nov. 18, at 9 p.m. on Alabama Public Television, before being aired at stations around the nation next year. The local and inspirational speaker is listed as executive producer, creative producer, and writer on the 30-minute documentary, which is being produced by Hand ‘N Hand Entertainment.

The show will go national on public television stations in 2022 and more episodes are expected. “That’s a big deal to me, that it got accepted for other states to air it after this one airs, and the fact other media are interested,” she said.

“Hopefully I am doing two of these 30-minute pieces a year,” she said, possibly in the spring and fall. Smaller segments are expected on other media venues. More details are expected to be announced early next year.

Her Women of True Grit website indicates she is planning to expand the brand of the book she co-authored with Tina Savas in 2010, where they profiled 40 women. The expansion is expected to include the TV show, a podcast, another book, and merchandise, among other things.

A private social network (designed to give experiences, ask questions and obtain resources for women) is also expected in time to provide “a sisterhood experience to help people to feel they can go back and help make a difference in their communities,” she said.

Devin Stephenson, president of Northwest Florida State College, is having Hand as a keynote speaker at a Woman of True Grit program at that college in March 2022 in Niceville, Florida. Following that in October 2022, she will hold her first Women of True Grit Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

A second version of “Women of True Grit,” with interviews obtained around the world, was co-written for FedEx by Hand with Jane Amaba, vice president of finance at FedEx Services, and sold through their stores and online as a fundraiser for Dress For Success, to help professional women get clothes they could not afford for work. The book was profiled in the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn.

Another sequel book is expected in October 2022, she said. She now sees this as a legacy that she can leave behind for younger women to pass on, which she is humbled and grateful over.

Hand, a four-time cancer survivor, said, “I never thought at this season of my life I would be doing this. But I feel God has given me this purpose. My health, I’m doing better than I’ve done in years. I feel like I’ve been refreshed. This is a third act for me to encourage other women.” She feels she is supposed to share other women’s stories on how they have navigated difficult situations to reach success.

She defined a Woman of True Grit as a woman who “understands that through resilience there is transformation.” She said when one lives long enough to see and understand the highs and lows of life, you learn to listen better. As a result, “I hope I can share voices of women in leadership, outstanding women in communities, and show inclusion of all walks of life. We need each other.”

If one goes back in history, one cannot find many stories of women.
“True Grit Sisterhood, we’ve not had a lot of. We’ve got the good old boys down, but this is a way to do more to give women a hands up and show more kindness to more walks of women, and we couldn’t do it without the support of men. We couldn’t do it without a brotherhood that cares about us,” she said.

Hand said she learned not just the stories of the women, but what they are doing with their platform to give back to their communities.

“I think that is what sets mine a little bit apart,” she said. “They feel, I hope, the genuineness from my heart that I have walked a lot of these roads, and that I think other women need to know they can get through things. They don’t have to give up. They don’t have to settle for less.”

The pilot show will feature two Alabama women who represent the “Women of True Grit sisterhood experience,” a press release said. It indicated “Women of True Grit” involves stories of the heart coming “from women in all walks of life including the worlds of business, entertainment, science, medicine, education, healthcare, and more. They are relatable to women regardless of their background and/or their professional or personal paths to share life lessons.”

In the documentary, Hand, 70, visited the work environments of Dr. Bobbie Knight, president of Miles College, and Dr. Kimberly Robinson, the first female CEO of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, telling their rise to success and how they give back to their communities.

“A piece of grit inside an oyster transforms over time into a beautiful pearl. So it is with Women of True Grit,” Hand begins the program. Knight, still trying to get a dream job on the radio, describes how she decided to take a temporary job with Alabama Power that lasted 38 years and put her in management positions in the company. She also touches how late in life she met and married a former NFL player, and then how she came out of retirement to lead Miles.

“At the end of the day, it is about the students,” she said, and talks of the challenges of students being able to afford college, and those who were left homeless during the pandemic. Robinson talks of overcoming childhood shyness, pushing herself to engage with others. With her father working for an aerospace company, she one day found her self talking at school with a female astronaut, who was first an engineer. She tried to follow the same path to be an astronaut, but wound up working 31 years on the ground for NASA, helping to actually train astronauts.

She would end up at the Space Center as it made “so much sense to me,” she said. Robinson uses her post to inspire other women realize how far they can advance.

Hand said the film is made possible by a number of entities and individuals around the state, including Walker Women’s Specialist Dr. Bridget Brunner, Dr. Gary and Gay Russell and Dr. Adam Cox Jr., all of Jasper. “I’m excited for all the support that I have within my community, within my state and on a national basis with corporations that see the need for this,” she said.

More information about the Women of True Grit Brand and upcoming segments and events for 2022 can be found at www.womenoftruegrit.org.