As comic books have taught us, being a superhero requires superhuman abilities and using them to save the world. But there is also one other trait most superheroes have in common.
They have the perfect disguise.
Superman was unrecognizable as Clark Kent. Nobody suspected Bruce Wayne was Batman. So it is possible people with special powers just might be walking among us every day. And with Wonder Woman hitting the big screen this week, Studio Movie Grill went in search of some real-life women of wonder.
“It was such a good opportunity for us, especially given Wonder Woman’s character, standing for wisdom, power, and grace,” said SMG’s Danielle Hawthorne.
When the search came to Dallas, they found their heroine in an inconspicuous place. At the restaurant Café Momentum, Paige Litterer has been changing lives for the past five years.
The power she wields is simple.
She believes in others.
“People can achieve amazing things when you consistently believe in them,” said Litterer. “They just need somebody to be consistent and stable, loving them and nurturing them.”
More than 700 women from across the country were nominated for SMG’s “Real-Life Wonder Woman” search, but only 12 were selected. On Wednesday night, those women will be honored at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas with the red-carpet treatment and a special screening of Wonder Woman.
The hometown heroine will be Litterer, the director of service training and curriculum at Café Momentum. The restaurant offers year-long internships for post-release juvenile offenders. They are teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 needing an opportunity and guidance to get back on the right path. That opportunity comes in the form of a restaurant where they learn to work in all different positions of the service industry from cooking, to bussing tables, to serving customers.
Litterer assesses the teens when they come into the program, decides which role suits them best, and helps provide the training they need to succeed. She also arranges for guest speakers to regularly come in and give their words of motivation and encouragement.
“Some of the kids that made it through have really gone from one extreme to the other,” she said about the difference Café Momentum can make. “There are probably at least 20 kids that have made a dramatic night and day difference in their lives.”
Kristine Colunga, 19, came to Café Momentum after being involved in a bad relationship, which produced bad influences and a criminal charge. But once she arrived, she found her hero and feels the experience has put her back on track.
“I love Paige. She is always there with her arms wide-open if I need a hug,” said Colunga, now a college student. “It is awesome to have someone like that to look up to.”
But it was not one of Café Momentum’s teenagers who nominated Litterer. She had no idea about the competition until a publicist called to tell her she was a winner in the nationwide search.
“He told me that the letter came from my mom and was especially touching," she said.
In addition to the screening, each winner will be given $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice and, in true comic book fashion, an artist has depicted them in renderings wearing Wonder Woman regalia.
Litterer was impressed the artist nailed her eyebrows perfectly, but is more excited about a night with other inspiring women.
“It is incredibly humbling. There are so many women across the nation and Dallas doing wonderful things for their communities, and I’m just honored to be recognized for what makes me so happy and what I am most passionate about."