As the granddaughter of influential California governor Pat Brown, Sascha Rice has long known the story of his impact on the state and his family (which includes her uncle, current California governor Jerry Brown). But telling it to a broader audience in her award-winning documentary film California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown has given Rice new insights into his impact on the country’s most populous state.
“I wanted California to be the leading lady of the film. My grandfather adored California, and I’m finding that people are feeling inspired by the story,” she said. “It’s pretty shocking that about 1 in 8 Americans live in California, and so many of them are transplants. People are learning about Pat Brown, but they’re also learning about California.”
Rice transferred to Hampshire after leaving the University of California Santa Cruz and spending a year in Argentina. While she’d previously studied film, she spent most of her time at Hampshire focused on theater, dance, and interdisciplinary arts productions. That work eventually led her back to film after graduation.
“I was all business when I got to Hampshire. I was determined to graduate in two years,” she said, noting that high school friends who attended Hampshire provided quick access to a new group of friends that was focused on involvement in numerous issues that were appealing to her. “I’m a big believer in participation and engagement.”
That’s one of the reasons Rice made the documentary on her grandfather and his dedication to projects related to matters like education and civil rights. Seeing so much negative talk about government during the state and country’s fiscal crises made Rice want to focus people on the benefits it can bring.
“I’m really tired of hearing people complain about politics. I really think public service is a great thing, and I wanted to bring a positive reputation back to that profession,” she said.
Rice is currently promoting an educational curriculum built around the film that stresses responsible leadership, environmental stewardship, civic engagement, and sharing family stories and legacies.
“You don’t need a grandfather who was a governor to have an incredible story about where you came from. There are great stories of hope and inspiration that can be found in the past,” said Rice.
Being able to tell her own stories successfully, she added, is partly due to her time at Hampshire.
“Something about the Hampshire experience gives you the humility to ask for help and the confidence to know your questions are valid,” she said. “You need to advocate for your own vision, and you’re held accountable for it. In my profession, that’s how you get things done. You need to be able to chart your own course, map out what the steps are and then show up and do them.”
For more about the film or the companion curriculum, visit www.patbrowndocumentary.com.