Sarah Ullman is using her talents as a filmmaker to initiate change.
After 49 people were murdered in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, Ullman decided to act.
“I felt sick about it all the time,” Ullman, who is one of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World, says in this week’s issue.
Ullman, 30, founded One Vote at a Time to create campaign ads directed by female filmmakers for candidates working to reduce gun violence.
“Our mission is around gun violence prevention and wanting to elect more people who believe in gun safety legislation,” she explains.
The political action committee (PAC), which has received support and guidance from Hollywood director-writer-producer Joss Whedon, focuses on candidates at the state level because Ullman believes that’s where gun reform has the most potential.
“It’s up to the states to take charge on this issue,” she says. “Fight back on concealed carry reciprocity laws, pass universal background checks — that’s the through-line of our work.”
For full coverage of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World, pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday
In 2017, Ullman’s political ads helped flip 10 of the 15 seats Democrats gained in the Virginia statehouse.
She works to create “personal” ads that help the candidate make genuine connections to the community members.
“When you speak to voters with integrity and respect, then they respond,” she says.
Ullman says working with candidates made her realize just how few women there are in politics.
“There are more women in Afghanistan’s parliament than there are in Congress,” she says. “It’s startling.”
Working on ads for female candidates, “We’re finally allowing women to be full people. To see them as a mother, but also a lawyer and also as a daughter who cares for an aging father. To see that identity as strength.”