Celebrity speaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite is most famous for writing, directing, editing, and co-producing the 2013 hit documentary film, Blackfish. Gabriela has pursued her career as a documentary filmmaker for over ten years, working with networks including Discovery, Animal Planet, ESPN, National Geographic, and the History Channel for which she co-produced episodes for television series documentaries Wild West Tech and Shootout!
Cowperthwaite has made it her mission in life to tell real life stories, which is just what she did with the film Blackfish which tells the life story of a killer whale named Tilikum, who was captured and taken from the ocean as a baby to become a performer at SeaWorld. In telling Tilikum’s life story, Gabriela in turn exposes the danger and problems that result from keeping these whales in captivity. The idea for the film came to Cowperthwaite when she heard a news story in 2010 that a SeaWorld trainer, Dawn Brancheau, had been killed by one of the killer whales. That killer whale turned out to be Tilikum, and Gabriela learned that it wasn’t the first person who the whale had killed, but the third. A mother of two, Cowpertwaite had taken her kids to SeaWorld and found a personal attachment to the story and a need to understand why such a highly intelligent animal would viciously attack its trainer. She began writing the treatment for Blackfish and two years later it was completed. In January of 2013, the documentary debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and received critical acclaim. Gabriela Cowperthwaite and her film received much media attention when Blackfish was broadcast on CNN in the fall of 2013. The story has been covered by The Huffington Post, MSN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and countless others.