by Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
It was amazing to see how women can make history by coming together and supporting each other while following their passion and purpose. On February 2, Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment kicked off with a celebration at NeueHouse Hollywood. This gender parity leadership initiative was spearheaded by two powerful Take The Lead Leadership Ambassadors, Elisa Parker (host of the award-winning program “See Jane Do”) and Tabby Biddle (bestselling author of Find Your Voice). Overall, 50 women were chosen from the media and entertainment industry to participate in the #50 Women Can initiative. These women represented various aspects of the industry, including broadcasters, filmmakers, producers, performers, directors, media company founders and more. These are the storytellers who will change the way women and girls see themselves in the future by reaching gender parity in the media and entertainment industries.
The energy was electric with so many powerful women coming together focusing on a shared goal. With the help of WomenConnect4Good, Inc., CBS, HBO, a partnership with NeuHouse and others, this cohort of women can step forward in the coming year to make lasting changes in the industry that shows women every day how they should see themselves. Gloria Feldt, co-author of Leading Women, and bestselling author of No Excuses, conceived the initiative to move parity forward within individual industries. The first 50 Women initiative, which represented the social-profit/non-profit and civic industry sector in Arizona, launched in 2016. With the model in place, Elisa and Tabby teamed up to launch this second initiative in Hollywood. Like the earlier 50 Women, this cohort will focus on empowerment through the use of Gloria Feldt’s 9 Power Tools for women with the goal of propelling women into parity in the media and entertainment industry by 2025.
The real work began Saturday, February 10, with a two-day workshop at Mount St. Mary’s University, a Take the Lead Partner that produces a Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ highlighting issues of gender inequity across the state. The next statewide gender equity report will come out in March 2018, and include a discussion on how 50 Women really Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment. Plans are for a one-year collaborative research study assessing the impact and efficacy of 50 Women.
These 50 Women will participate in workshops held at Mount St. Mary’s and in on-line webinars for the 50 Women cohort during the next four months. Curriculum will cover critical areas of professional change that includes asking for what you want in regard to funding and financing, legal insight for women in the industry, tools for dealing with difficult people and situations, supporting and becoming an industry game-changer, and much, much more. Focusing on the already impressive talents of these 50 women, the program will arm them with super-tools to tackle the challenges they face every day in this male-dominated industry.
There were many inspirational speeches made at the launch. Ana Flores, the founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina Network proclaimed, “Being at the #50WomenCan Flagship Reception I felt like a fire was lit in me. The collective energy of the women in the room validated my vision of women helping other women grow and thus effectively changing the way business is done and content is created and distributed. I could feel the change is no longer a request, but a mandate and we’re all ready to play our role in it.”
Alica Ontiveros, Senior Producer, Q Creative said, “The industry is ripe for change, but it’s going to take true commitment from stakeholders at every level and sector of the business to make that change meaningful and lasting. I’m proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many successful women about how we can bring this industry into a new more equitable and profitable future. This initiative couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The time is NOW! I’m impatient and don’t want to wait until 2025 for women to reach parity. Each day we can do something to support another woman and help each other in all our communities to bring women forward into the leadership positions that both create the role models for our daughters, and make the world a better place. Using our voices and telling our stories in the world of media and entertainment gives us the loudest megaphone possible. Partnering with our sisters and supporting their vision of real women’s stories opens the door for untold possibilities. Parity is in our grasp and our most powerful tool is our stories. I’m convinced these amazing 50 Women Can really change the world.