Even the greatest Olympic athletes face insecurities — just ask Simone Biles.
Skincare brand SK-II released “VS,” an animated anthology series starring Olympic athletes including Biles, Liu Xiang, Ishikawa Kasumi, Ayaka Takahashi, Misaki Matsutomo, Mahina Maeda and members of the Japan volleyball team Hinotori Nippon. The six short films follow each athlete as they battle societal pressures women face such as trolling, image obsession and limitations, personified as kaiju, or “strange beast.”
The anthology was created with WPP Black Ops under SK-II’s global film studio division, SK-II STUDIO. The films are a mix of live action and animation produced by Imaginary Forces, Passion Pictures, Platige Image and C3.
John Legend and Lexie Liu provided the soundtrack for the films, performing the songs “Take a Look” and “Deep Down,” respectively.
Biles’ film follows the gymnast as she’s harassed by online trolls, who take the form of small, real-life trolls. She tries to ignore them, but the trolls keep growing until they become a giant beast. Biles’ confidence is shaken, but she finds strength in her accomplishments and defeats the trolls.
“It’s an inside look at what I’ve personally dealt with and how I’ve chosen my own destiny and come out on top,” Biles told Campaign US.
Biles was involved in “a lot” of the creative process, which included replicating an animated version of herself.
“We went back and forth a couple of times, changing little features on my face so that it looked just like me,” she explained. “That was really different. I’ve never done a process like this, so it was super exciting to see. It’s really me.”
Biles wanted to be a part of the project because SK-II “fits into [her] daily life,” and what’s important to her “in and out of the gym.”
The creative strategy behind the film series was focused on the message, “Destiny is not a matter of chance.”
“Simone Biles’ story is very powerful and hopes to inspire women to not let anyone change how they see themselves or hold them back, to always move forward and take destiny into their own hands,” said SK-II global CEO Sandeep Seth and Yoegin Chang, senior brand director of Global SK-II, in a joint statement.
SK-II is also setting up a #CHANGEDESTINY fund, which will donate $1 (up to $500,000) for every view on each film. Proceeds will support women pursuing their destiny to create positive change.
“We believe that brands have a social responsibility to inspire and support, especially given the unprecedented year of change we have all been through,” said Seth and Chang in a statement. ”We’ve seen from the news and research that the pressures women are facing are heightened and need to be addressed with higher urgency.”
Biles hopes that her story can inspire other women to stand strong in the face of their own battles.
“Don’t let people tear you down,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you came from. It’s how you get up and continue to fight that fight.”