Genevieve is transforming film making from being an elitist industry to one that embraces disability and marginalised people.
She has taken a potential negative and turned it into a positive. Using her childhood challenges of depression as a result of being bullied at school, she has developed a deep appreciation for ‘belonging’ and moving people from being marginalised to ‘included’.
Genevieve is the co-founder and co-owner of award winning creative agency, Taste Creative and, co-founder and Executive Director of pioneering not-for-profit organisation, Bus Stop Films. She is the NSW Young Australian of the Year.
Genevieve’s films about inclusion have been viewed by over half a million people world-wide.
In 2009, at 20 years old, Genevieve won 1st prize at Tropfest, with her film, Be My Brother about a young man with Down Syndrome. It was acclaimed for the way it broke down social stigmas about disability.
Be My Brother is now used across Australia in schools as a related text for the HSC, has aired on the ABC and in-flight entertainment for Qantas. Be My Brother’s success inspired Genevieve to co-found Bus Stop Films a pioneering not-for-profit organisation, with a focus on creating supportive learning environments for people with an intellectual disability. Since 2011, Genevieve has held weekly, filmmaking workshops for people with an intellectual disability. Her workshops are progressive, helping people learn about tertiary level film studies topics. Since 2009, Genevieve has developed six ‘inclusively made’ short films to help voice the experiences of marginalised communities within Australia.
Genevieve is raising the bar when it comes to disability and the arts, showcasing that people with an intellectual disability can be involved in creating artistic works of excellence. The Interviewer, made in 2012 created with a class of 12 students with an intellectual disability has been used by countless international recruitment agencies across Australia, Germany and France to raise awareness about inclusive employment. It’s been sold and distributed in five international territories, gone viral in Europe, has screened at the UN as well as several Oscar qualifying film festivals and has won over 30 international film festival awards.
In 2014, Genevieve worked with NAB and Australia Post to produce short films and internal campaigns designed to break down barriers and create conversations surrounding people's fears and uncertainties about disability and mental health in the workforce. In 2013, she facilitated the world's first inclusive television commercial, where two of her students with an intellectual disability received paid employment on a television commercial she directed for the Special Olympics.
Not much makes me cry. But when Genevieve Clay-Smith, a UTS alumna, returned to UTS to tell her film making story, the story of her struggle to include people with disabilities into her work somehow got to me. There she was, up on the stage, telling the story of what it was like to go from student to TropFest winner; and somehow, her ability to show her vulnerability, as well as the vulnerable people in her films, moved everyone in the room - from the youngest student, who could not have been more than 17, to me (and I thought Id heard everything).
She’s had a lot of success for a whippersnapper - but despite that, she didn’t grandstand, didn’t provide that kind of boring, cliched advice to young people wanting to work in the creative industries. Her final words to students were: Stay teachable.
A good message to all of us. Even if it makes us cry.
Senior Lecturer, Journalism Program
University Techonology Sydney
Genevieve shared her inclusive film work with members of the EMEA Disability Interest Forum at Goldman Sachs London. She was passionate in sharing the change and progress she has been able to create and was an inspirational and motivating speaker on the topic.
Goldman Sachs London
Such a great session. So many people have emailed or popped round to say how inspirational they found it, Genevieve very much fired everyone up!
BBC Children’s Acquisitions and Independent Animation
Genevieve delivered the closing keynote at our TIFF kids industry forum, it was incredibly inspiring for everyone in the room and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. Genevieve motivated us to think about how we can advance inclusion in the film industry and use our own strengths and passions to make a difference. Her work left us feeling uplifted and empowered to create social change through the power of filmmaking and storytelling. We were thrilled to have her and highly recommend her as a speaker for any event.
Toronto International Film Festival
Genevieve's presentation to Screen Australia staff was incredibly inspiring, and even moved some people to tears. Her tenacity as both CEO of Bus Stop Films and her vision for inclusive filmmaking across the industry made a strong impression on all staff. The positivity that shone through the students that appeared with Genevieve is further evidence of the impact of her work. I received so much positive feedback from those who attended, and the office was buzzing with conversations about inclusion and what we can all do to make a difference. It was a presentation I'm sure everyone will remember for a long time to come.
Strategy & Operations
Genevieve spoke very well, was engaging and shared her story with honesty. She took the time to learn about our business and shaped her story to be most relevant to staff.
University of Tasmania Rozelle
Genevieve was the keynote speaker at the Hunter Research Foundation’s (HRF) Regional Youth Summit, held in Maitland in February 2015. Our CEO Brent Jenkins has been talking about her ever since and wanting to invite her back! We invited Genevieve, as a Hunter Valley girl made good, to share her journey with our audience of young people and her address greatly exceeded our expectations. She was inspirational and positive, her story relatable and human and told in a captivating way. The feedback from our staff and audience was uniformly positive and we will continue to invite Genevieve to take part in HRF events. She is an outstanding ambassador for our Region, but despite having achieved great acclaim as the NSW Young Australian of the Year, she remains approachable and warm. After her address she stayed for the other Summit presentations by young people and spoke to audience members in the break, including a young person with a disability who was inspired by Genevieve’s presentation on her not-for-profit organisation Bus Stop Films. I couldn’t praise her role in our Summit highly enough. I have no hesitation recommending Genevieve as an inspirational speaker with a great story.
Hunter Research Foundation
Genevieve is a passionate supporter for those with disability, and speaks very powerfully from the heart about what led her to where she is. She is very accomplished, with numerous professional and personal accolades, and communicates as a very compassionate person, intelligent, open and honest. I have no hesitation in recommending Genevieve to connect on a very personal level with any audience, her drive is positively infectious. Thank God for people like her.
Wesley Communications, Fundraising & Volunteering
Genevieve gave us a refreshing and passionate keynote presentation that all of our guests enjoyed. One of the best guest speakers that we have had for the Commonwealth Day Lunch.
Commonwealth Day Council of NSW
Thank you so much for sharing with us the experiences you’ve had on set, it was inspiring to see the way you were confronted with regimented gender stereotypes yet were able to earn respect and esteem in order to disprove them. One of the strongest ideas that carried through the night was your message not to fear failure. It is such an important concept which I hope to follow through with my leadership term. I left the forum inspired, wanting to head straight out into the workforce and to achieve success due to my ‘unfathomable capabilities’.
Kincoppal - Rose Bay
We would like to thank Genevieve for supporting Cerebral Palsy Alliance and for sharing her very own unshakeable spirit to encourage our young leaders of tomorrow. Genevieve’s keynote was perfectly tailored to the theme of our event, and she spoke with warmth and sincerity. She is a lovely individual who already has changed the world of the people she has met and we will continue the ‘cycle of good’ she inspired us to
Cerebral Palsy Alliance