‘True Spirit’ Is ‘Scarily Accurate’ To What Actually Happened

jessica watson true spirit true story netflix film
Is Netflix’s ‘True Spirit’ A True Story?Robert Prezioso - Getty Images

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A new Netflix movie, True Spirit, tells the incredible story of a young Australian teenager named Jessica Watson, who decided she wanted to become the youngest person to sail around the world.

At just 16 years old, Jessica set out on her sailboat with the goal of sailing around the globe, non-stop and unassisted. Naturally, things aren’t seamless on her journey, and Jessica runs into some terrifyingly rough seas, along with some other challenges.

It’s understandable to have questions while watching this, including whether this story is real, and if so, how much of it is true. Here’s what the Netflix movie gets right, what the streamer added, and an update on where Jessica is today.

Yes, True Spirit is based on a true story.

The real Jessica Watson really did set sail around the world at age 16 back in 2010, and the film aims to capture and recreate her remarkable journey for viewers.

According to her website, Jessica sailed around some of the world’s most remote oceans, surviving seven knockdowns (when a boat tips over into the water), and 210 days alone at sea to become the youngest person to sail alone, nonstop around the world.

Jessica started a blog and wrote a book after her journey in 2010 called True Spirit, which the movie is based on. She also filmed a documentary while she was at sea, which was later narrated by Richard Branson.

Jessica really did travel the globe in her sailboat.

It sounds far-fetched, but all the major events in the film actually happened. So, understandably, when Jessica arrived back home, she got a lot of attention for her feat.

Jessica was inspired by the book Lionheart by Jesse Martin, who sailed the world solo, according to the Australian Museum. She spent years preparing for her journey, logging 6,000 coastal miles and 6,000 ocean miles, per the Australian Museum.

“I’m just an ordinary girl who believed in her dream,” Jessica said in a speech. “You don’t have to be someone special, or anything special, to achieve something amazing. You just have to have a dream, believe in it, and work hard.”

Jessica Watson is still alive today.

Jessica finished her journey around the world in May 2010, arriving home just shy of her 17th birthday. She was later named Youth Representative for the United Nations World Food Program, and is a founding member of the marine start-up Deckee.com. She also has an MBA and has written a second book, a novel called Indigo Blue.

These days, Jessica works as a corporate speaker and management consultant in Deloitte’s Human Capital consulting team, according to her website. She’s currently 29 years old.

Jessica is played by actress Teagan Croft.

Teagan Croft, an 18-year-old actress from Australia, takes on the role of Jessica in the film. And the two actually seem pretty close, which makes sense consider the fact Jessica was involved in the making of the film.

Teagan posted an Instagram with Jessica, captioning it: "All my love to Jess, Sarah, and the hundreds of people who made this film possible... and my gorgeous little actor boat."

Jessica says the movie very closely captures her experience.

Jessica appeared in a recent podcast, I've Got News For You, where she did an interview about the film and said the movie was pretty accurate. There’s some “movie magic,” but True Spirit is “scarily accurate” to what she experienced on her journey, she said.

In another Instagram, Jessica posted a video clip from the trailer and explains that "some of @teagancroft’s lines ring so true to me today - it’s a little unnerving in a lovely way."

Not everything is 100 percent accurate.

The movie features a character named Ben Bryant, who is Jessica’s mentor in the movie. The fictional Ben helps young Jessica in the lead-up to her trip and as she sails around the world. But “Ben” is actually based on a group of people who helped Jessica, she shared on Instagram.

What does the film add to her story?

The movie helps bring Jessica’s story to life, and she seems happy to be affiliated with it. Jessica has repeatedly posted about True Spirit on Instagram, applauding the acting and filmmaking.

Catch the new film streaming on Netflix now.

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