50 Women Can and Do: Take The Lead Changing the World In Media And Entertainment

The Time’s Up movement has brought sharp focus to the gender inequities in Hollywood, moving beyond the catharsis of truth-telling to action and solutions-based initiatives.

Take The Lead is aligned with the urgency to act with a new four-month program, Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change The World in Media & Entertainment,  that launched recently at NeueHouse Hollywood.

Co-directed by 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, the program offers the custom curriculum created by Gloria Feldt, Take The Lead co-founder and president, to 50 women selected to participate in media and entertainment industries after a rigorous nomination process.

The #TimesUp movement has brought sharp focus to the gender inequities in Hollywood, moving beyond the catharsis of truth-telling to action and solutions-based initiatives.

“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,” says Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly, philanthropist, author,  founder of Women Connect4Good, Inc. and sponsor for #50WomenCan.

“Media and entertainment shape every aspect of our culture.  It is truly important to create this platform to create leadership and gender parity by 2025 or sooner.  What you do here will be historical and when we will all find our voices the possibilities are endless,” O’Reilly said at the program launch.

“Standing in this room full of driven and passionate women, we instantly became a community. I knew in that moment – this is only the beginning. What we do here will resonate beyond our fields of work.  I hugged my daughter that night and told her we won’t let you down,” said Lolita Lopez, NBC Los Angeles Investigative Reporter/Anchor.

Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change The World in Media & Entertainment program’s first class of women leaders includes industry executives, award-winning producers, writers, directors, agents, film and media educators, journalists and on-site production staff. (The inaugural 50 Women Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment full biographies are here.)

The cohort includes Maria Giese, who in 2015 instigated the biggest industry-wide federal investigation around discrimination against women directors in Hollywood history; Kamala Lopez, actress, filmmaker, activist and President of Heroica Films, who launched the movement and film Equal Means Equal to educate Americans about the importance of equal rights under federal law for women; and Winnie Kemp, SVP of television development at Super Deluxe/Turner Broadcasting, who was among Adweek’s 2017 list of female disruptors in media.

The #50WomenCan program also includes social change activists such as award-winning producer, writer, and director, Aisling Chin-Yee who co-created alongside actor Mia Kirshner  #AfterMeToo, a symposium, series and report that analyzes the issue of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry; Amie Williams who founded the nonprofit GlobalGirl Media, which develops the voice and media literacy of young women, as well as local media reporters Alex Cohen, Southern California Public Radio and Lolita Lopez from KNBC.

“Who tells our stories, shapes the culture,” Feldt says. “And where better to have an impact on the culture than here, in Los Angeles, where so much of our narratives are born. The timing was prescient—but all the controversy about sexual harassment that started with this industry,  shows how urgently we need to address the imbalance between men and women and how it helps all when we make these kinds of systemic changes.“

The program has gained the support of industry leaders, including CBS and HBO.  Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, EVP, Entertainment Diversity, Inclusion and Communications, said of CBS’s decision to join in: “Take The Lead works diligently to put more women on the map, and the #50WomenCan initiative further empowers them to tell their stories. We’re proud to stand behind their mission of reaching gender parity in the industry, and we’re committed to seeing more women-led content on the screen.”

“We want you to think of this as your home,” said Ramona Orley, Membership Director, NeueHouse Hollywood.  “NeueHouse is a community of entrepreneurs and creative leaders. Our workspaces are designed to inspire new ideas, encourage new connections and provoke fresh perspectives.”

Monique Coleman, #50WomenCan Advisory Member, Actress, Producer and Global Youth Advocate, added, “It’s time for women to not just have a voice, but to use that voice to make an impact on this industry and the world.” Monique was one of nine Advisory Committee members who helped select the 50 women cohort.

Women in Hollywood face steep odds according to the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film. Of the top 250 films, only 7 percent of the directors are women.  Women accounted for 13 percent of writers, 17 percent of executive producers, 24 percent producers, 17 percent editors, 5 percent cinematographers, 3 percent composers, 8 percent supervising sound editors, 4 percent sound designers. And for women of color the statistics are even more daunting.

#WomenInHollywood face steep odds according to the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film.

Ana Flores, founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina Network said, “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.”

Added Alicia Ontiveros, Senior Producer, Q Creative, “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 program began with  two-day immersion program, and will continue with two-day programs in March, April and May, as well as webinars. The program will conclude with a Partners for Parity Soiree at the Doheny Mansion at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles.

The four-month special program will cover critical areas of professional change including:

* Asking for what you want (funding and financing);

* Legal insight for women in the industry;

* Tools to navigate difficult people and situations within the industry;

* Supporting industry game changers—and becoming one;

* Self-care and personal development;

* Creation of a personalized leadership action plan that will be aided and followed up on throughout the year by the program’s managers.

The program is based on Take The Lead’s core curriculum, the “9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career,” that teaches women how to lead with a new definition of power.  Created by legendary  Feldt in her bestselling book, No Excuses, the 9 Leadership Power Tools are proven to accelerate women into leadership. Feldt recognized early on that while numerous studies all analyzed the problem, what was needed was an actionable program that could be adapted to various industries and sectors and a network for women to support each other when the programming finished.

Over one million women have participated in Take The Lead’s groundbreaking programs, moving up in their careers and industries.  Take The Lead’s core curriculum  teaches women how to lead themselves, their careers, their organizations, and their industries with a new definition of power, shifting from an outdated, oppressive “Power Over” to an expansive, positive and innovative “Power To.”

Over one million women have participated in Take The Lead’s groundbreaking programs, moving up in their careers and industries. #TakeTheLeadWomen

“Women are at an extraordinary moment when long-needed advances in gender equality and power balance can happen. Take The Lead was prescient in launching this program in Hollywood.  After we say “#MeToo,” after the black dresses on the red carpet, and after creating a legal fund to help women once harassment has occurred comes Take The Lead’s critical work of giving women leadership tools and skills to create sustainable systemic change for the long term,” says Feldt. “The media and entertainment industry tells our stories to the world. That’s why 50 Women Can Change the World is so vitally important.”

The 50 Women Can Change The World in Media & Entertainment will hold their gatherings at Mount Saint Mary’s University, a partner with Take The Lead. Each year, Mount Saint Mary’s produces a Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ that highlights issues of gender inequity across the state.

When Mount Saint Mary’s next statewide gender equity report comes out in March 2018, the research presentation will include a discussion on how “50 Women Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment.” A one-year collaborative research study assessing the impact and efficacy of the 50 Women Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment is in the planning stages.

“We are proud to partner with the 50 Women Can Change the World initiative. We are dedicated to leveling the playing field so that women across industries can experience gender parity,” says Emerald Archer, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University.

“This initiative, along with our work with students in the Mount Saint Mary’s Film, Media, and Social Justice program, will shape the new leadership, redefine power, and transform the industry to be more gender equitable,” Archer says. “We can’t wait to see how this first cohort of leaders changes the landscape for women in entertainment.”