“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” wrote William Shakespeare.
Though he wrote these words more than 400 years ago, he could have very well been describing the experience of Martinsville resident Jacqueline Zampella, co-producer of the soon-to-be-released documentary, “I AM.”
Written and directed by blockbuster movie director Tom Shadyac—whose films include “Ace Ventura,” “Liar, Liar” and “Bruce Almighty"—"I AM" chronicles Shadyac’s journey to investigate the true nature of the human spirit through conversations with some of the greatest minds on the planet.
Shadyac, who sustained serious injuries and chronic health problems from a biking accident, came close to death and found that he had no alternative but to help convey truths that he had learned throughout his lifetime, centering on what he believes is humankind’s unbounded capacity for love, compassion and collaboration.
Three years ago, in her junior year of college at Pepperdine University in California, Zampella took a film class taught by Shadyac, which she said was not just an average class, but a forum for exploring all kinds of ideas and philosophies.
She said that at that time, she knew she wanted to be involved with film and television, but hadn't been sure about the precise route she would take.
“I didn’t put the pieces together until I took Tom’s class," she said. "At the time, I was a TV production major, because Pepperdine doesn’t have a film program, and I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. After taking Tom’s class and being given the opportunity to get some hands-on experience, I knew this is what I loved."
In a post-screening discussion for "I AM" at the University of Southern California on Feb. 9, Shadyac sang Zampella’s praises.
“We asked her to help out and no matter what we asked her to do she would always exceed our expectations and be one step ahead of us, always anticipating what was needed,” he said.
Zampella said she helped out with many aspects of the film, and found she loved the editing process as well as producing.
Every day of filmmaking, Zampella said, was an adventure.
“It’s exciting to meet people and hear their reactions and see how they are being affected by the film,” she said.
“I hope that audiences around the world will be inspired by the film, and take that energy and consider how to positively apply it in their own lives, on their own journeys," she added. "I hope people see the power of one. Each and every one of us really does have the power to change the world and be a part of the solution."
Zampella said she feels she is truly blessed to be able to work at something that she absolutely loves. She credits her parents for all the support they offered along the way.
Zampella said she had been involved in acting and modeling since age four, so it came as no surprise when she told her parents she wanted to pursue a career in film and television.
“My parents have been extremely supportive since day one," she said. "I think they know that no matter what I’m doing, as long as I’m happy I’ll be good at it. When I like what I’m doing I put my whole self into it and they both know how passionate I am about my work and this film."
Zampella said what she loves most about creating a film is the storytelling and the collaborative process.
“Everyone brings something different and special to the table, and when all of those gems come together, you end up with a beautiful necklace,” she said.
She will always take with her memories of travel soccer, summer recreation camps and backyard barbeques with the family in Martinsville, but Zampella is doing quite a bit of traveling these days—meeting people from around the world and through the film “I AM”—helping them to find out who they really are.
“One of the film’s interviewees, Howard Zinn, said, 'There is no such thing as a tiny act,'" she said. "My greatest wish is that this film awakens people to how powerful they actually are.”
For more information about the film, visit iamthedoc.com.