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Monday, December 19, 2016

NYWIFT Muse Awards

The New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) Muse awards were the inspiring event I needed to see in today's current hostile climate. Women in the media are being attacked left and right for expressing any type of thought, for their work, for simply being visible at all.

The Muse Awards honorees are all women who have been brave both personally and in their work. I was fortunate to speak to many of them at last week's luncheon. Bloomberg Media's Jacki Kelly noted that the first NYWIFT gathering was born from the infamous 1977 blackout in New York City. Probably from the collective energy of the amazing women who founded it.

The Woman Who Inspired Debi Mazar, Mary Louise Parker and Martha Plimpton:

Debi Mazar, a lifelong New Yorker has played some sassy and sexy characters. I am an even bigger fan of her Cooking Channel show with husband Gabriele Corcos, Extra Virgin. It is the ultimate lifestyle fantasy of a couple living a fabulous life of Tuscan beauty, Italian food and passion for each other. Him, the European chef, her the New York wit. She wore a striking outfit from Italian designer Francesco ScognamiglioWhen asked which women in the industry was her muse, Mazar proudly stated "my first manager Peg Donegan of 28 years, we're still together!"

Martha Plimpton, completely elegant in an Escada suit, kept me in stitches the entire day. She has been a favorite to me since her role in Goonies. I was a big fan of her Patti Nyholm character in The Good Wife and Raising Hope. She is now in The Real O'Neals. Her acceptance speech began with "I have no prepared remarks, you're in for a treat." She then launched into her tribute to Dean Martin's lush speeches (but was much funnier). She did make a poignant statement about art. She expressed, "All art is a form of activism, even if it is neutral." To create and make your mark in the world, even for yourself, is to stand for something. I asked Plimpton who the most inspiring woman was in the industry for her. She replied "Meryl Streep. She is at the pinnacle of where grace meets talent". When asked about work, she seeks to be around people who are kind, a word I kept hearing over and over again throughout the day.

Mary Louise Parker has played some of my favorite complex female characters in dramas and comedies like RED and Weeds. I asked how she found balance as a working mother. I'm always doing a bunch of things at once. "Walking the dog and learning my lines. When you're able to absolutely nothing, it's incredible. When you have children, it's good to know you have support."  The woman who inspired her? "Susan Sarandon was incredibly good and supportive friend to me. She always puts children first. Her heart is always in the right place. She has always been kind to me, and I have seen her be kind to other people".

Honoree Marcia Smith founded Firelight Media, a non-profit that supports the projects of indie filmmakers and producers of color, a group vastly underrepresented in mainstream media. Her organization has won every award in television. Unfortunately, I was not able to speak to her on the red carpet, but her speech challenged women to "dare to be powerful."

Amy Goodman, producer, and the host of Democracy Now! was honored with the Loreen Arbus Changemaker award. She stressed how critical free speech was, especially in this time where media and journalists were being attacked. Her story on the Dakota Access Pipeline was also shown, which was a catalyst for mass coverage and support for the protest. Goodman was arrested and threatened like many great journalists before her. In this toxic election year, the media has been targeted in a way that it hasn't been in many years.

It was a treat to be surrounded by a full ballroom of accomplished creative women. NYWIFT events are inspirational with their mission of supporting each other. The clear theme of the day was KINDNESS. This concept was important as 2016 seemed to project a lack of it. Valuing humanity and kindness in others are now viewed as progressive. Here's hoping 2017 proves us wrong.

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