Jessica Watson in 2009
Source: Getty Images

Jessica Watson Says Netflix's 'True Spirit' Captures the "Essence" of What Her Voyage Was About (EXCLUSIVE)


Feb. 2 2023, Updated 9:25 a.m. ET

When Australian sailor Jessica Watson was only 16, she made an impossible journey. She was the youngest person to attempt global circumnavigation, and she left Sydney, Australia, in October 2009. She returned on May 15, 2010, only 21,600 nautical miles shy of completely sailing the globe. However, for her efforts, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.

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Jessica's incredible journey has been recorded in books and documentaries about her experience. Now, Netflix has created a film based on her autobiography called True Spirit, starring Titans actress Teagan Croft. With the film set for release on Feb. 3, 2023, viewers are curious: What is Jessica Watson doing now? In an exclusive interview with Distractify, Jessica opened up about her reaction to the movie.

Jessica Watson in 2022
Source: Instagram/@jessicawatson_93
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What is Jessica Watson doing now?

Before her global journey, Jessica told the Los Angeles Times why she decided to take on such an enormous challenge. She said, "I wanted to challenge myself and achieve something to be proud of. And yes, I wanted to inspire people. I hated being judged by my appearance and other people's expectations of what a 'little girl' was capable of."

Following the completion of her journey in 2010, Jessica wrote a book about her experience called True Spirit, which was published two months after her return home.

She also filmed a documentary marking the process of her global excursion, including her preparations, her voyage, and her return home. The documentary, titled 210 Days: Around the World with Jessica Watson, was released on ONEHD in 2010.

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Now that her book has been adapted into a motion picture, the world will see her story in a different kind of medium. When asked what it was like seeing her life fictionalized, Jessica told us, "It's crazy. It's surreal. And, it's really really exciting. There is no denying that." Even though Jessica nearly circumnavigated the globe as a teenager, she was blown away by the movie-making process.

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The film veers slightly off course from Jessica's actual experience. For example, she shared that some of the characters are "amalgamations" and the timeline isn't exactly accurate but at the end of the day it "really gets the essence of what the voyage was about." She goes on to say that so much of it rings true, it's quite "unnerving."

Jessica Watson published her debut novel in 2018.

As an adult, Jessica has continued to sail, but she's also continued writing. Her debut novel, a middle-grade book called Indigo Blue, was published in 2018. In her excited Instagram post announcing the book's release, Jessica says she wrote Indigo Blue because "I want more young girls to fall in love with sailing! I’m hoping that this book will help them do that."

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Jessica has also continued to travel around the world, from her native Queensland to New York City. Many of her social media posts are dedicated to speaking engagements, where she encourages young women to seek out their own adventures and get involved in sailing. For the Netflix film True Spirit, she even taught Teagan to sail!

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Jessica Watson lost her long-term partner in 2021.

Sadly, on Sept. 1, 2021, Jessica announced that her long-term partner, Cameron Dale, had passed away following a stroke. Cameron was seen in many of the photographs of Jessica's global adventures, and she wrote about his passing in a post on social media: "Cam passed away peacefully nearly six weeks after a catastrophic stroke. We’ll be forever grateful for the dedicated care he received at the Gold Coast University Hospital."

She added, "Cam and I have been inseparable since 2011, our shared world centred on messing about on boats. Describing what Cam means to me is impossible – everyone who knows us understands how much we simply loved each other."

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In a sweet follow-up post in August 2022, Jessica wrote that friends, acquaintances, and colleagues sent her memories of Cam or wrote notes checking in after she disappeared from social media for the remainder of 2021 and most of 2022. It sounds like, despite a difficult situation, Jessica has continued her adventures — and fans can't wait to see where she goes next!

True Spirit is available to stream on Netflix on Feb. 3.

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