Erin Brockovich: An Unexpected Leader

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BY: Olivia Richard, Phanindra Dahal, Dalia Younis & Jinjin Mo

Standing for what is right even if she stands alone

Image result for Julia Roberts + Erin Brockovich

Julia Roberts won Oscar Award for her portrayal of real life environmental activist Erin Brockovich. Photo:CNN

The movie “Erin Brockovich” is based on a real story of an American legal clerk who demonstrated the extraordinary leadership to ensure justice for hundreds of cancer victims whose suffering was the direct result of drinking water contamination caused by powerful utility company.


Erin Brockovich was an average divorced single mother struggling to raise her three children. Her two marriages had collapsed and she was seriously injured in a traffic accident. She had won a small amount of legal settlement not sufficient enough to feed her family, and her attorney Ed Masry out of kindness offered her a job. 

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Erin Brockovich talks with people of Hinkley California who suffered from PG & E’s knowing neglect and contamination of ground water across the country. Picture: CNN

It was during that difficult time of her life that she defied the odds. She went beyond her mandated clerical job jurisdictions and investigated a utility giant which was polluting drinking water in a small town of California for 30 years. The litigation which was based on her works later became the basis for a record settlement fee of US$ 333 million paid by Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1996 for victims due to their callous and knowinging neglect and pollution of the community’s ground water. The company was responsible for polluting drinking water sources in the town of Hinkley with the chemical hexavalent chromium that caused cancer in local residents.  


It was this story of an extraordinary leader which was turned into a movie Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts in 2000. Roberts won Academy Award for the best actress for the movie. The movie turned Erin who was an unknown legal researcher into a global icon who fought hard to win big. 



She is still helping people who have suffered from environmental contamination, bad medical devices and pharmaceuticals among others through her foundation.

The movie shows Erin’s persistence and her capability to lead her kids and support the victims of contamination at a very adverse situation. She managed to collect information of over 600 victims and her power of persuasion was key to win the trust of those people who were traumatised and living with diseases including cancer during her investigative work.

She was once fired from her job and a third party was brought in by her boss to look after her investigation. But the ownership towards work and commitment towards the victims made Erin a warrior who brought a small town to its feet and a giant company to its knees.

She demonstrates the qualities of a charismatic leader.