(CBS Local)– 18 months ago, there were very few people who had heard of the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Today, AOC is one of the most talked about politicians in the country and her historic run to Congress is spotlighted in a brand new Netflix documentary called “Knock Down The House.” Filmmaker Rachel Lears followed Ocasio-Cortez and several other women around the country running for Congress. Lears and Ocasio-Cortez met when the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th District was still working at a bar.
“I was very impressed with her messaging and her way of communicating,” said Lears in an interview with CBS Local. “She was really good at connecting with voters and really good at expressing complicated political ideas in a very down to earth way that regular people could connect to. She herself has had a really interesting life story growing up between two worlds in the Bronx and Westchester. I can’t wait until the film comes out because there’s a lot of misconceptions and misinformation out there about her and her backstory.”
Ocasio-Cortez shocked New York when she beat longtime incumbent Joe Crowley in the primary and then went on to defeat Anthony Pappas in the November 2018 general election. During her filming, Lears noticed that there were many people like AOC that had an visceral reaction to the 2016 presidential election and wanted to do something about it.
“We knew that these were long shot races from the beginning just because of what it looks like to challenge an incumbent,” said Lears. “These races had real entrenched political machines. In some cases like here in New York, it’s actually a real challenge just to get on the ballot.”
While Lears had many memorable moments filming her documentary around the country, she will never forget the night Ocasio-Cortez won the primary in New York.
“That night in New York was completely transformative,” said Lears. “She didn’t want to know what the results were. I was with her in the car riding to the watch party. She found out in that now viral, ironic moment. Once she gets inside and sees the results, that was the part that went viral. But, we have the full context of that. We caught that moment from two angles and it was really fun to go through that process with her.”
“Knock Down The House” premieres Wednesday, May 1 on Netflix.