Celebrating Success in the Face of Sexism
– by Margarita Sophia Cortes
“The word ‘muse’ has a different meaning for a man than for a woman,” stated Emmy-award winning actress and Muse Honoree Patricia Clarkson during her speech at New York Women in Film & Televisions’ 2015 Muse Awards in NYC on Thursday, December 12. The grand ballroom at the NYC Hilton-midtown was packed with nearly 1200 anticipated guests at the annual luncheon in recognition of this year’s muses.
The year started with record lows of women on both big and small screens and reports after reports showing dismal numbers of women behind the cameras. Through all the challenges, New York Women in Film & Television continues to champion the voice of women every year with numerous grants, scholarships, programs and events in support of women such as the Muse Awards.
This year’s honorees included Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, Fox’s “Empire”), Blythe Danner (The Miser, Husbands and Wives, Meet The Parents, I’ll See You In My Dreams), Patricia Clarkson (HBO’s “Six Feet Under”; Pieces of April; Good Night, and Good Luck; Shutter Island; The Green Mile), Sarah Barnett (President and General Manager of BBC America), Victoria Alonso (Executive Vice President of Production, Marvel Studios) and Lizz Winstead (co-creator of The Daily Show and Air America Radio and founder of Lady Parts Justice).
The grand ballroom was lit with inspiration and excitement. With all of the ups, downs, hurdles and in-betweens, we needed a day like this to put everything into perspective. Patricia Clarkson thanked fellow honoree Blythe Danner; Lizz Winstead gave a shout out to Lady Parts Justice, who filled a table (and the room) with cheers; Gabourey Sidibe showcased her young triumphant career among challenges; Sarah Barnett shined after a package reel filled with praise from the likes of Robert Redford; and Victoria Alonso serenaded all of us with a beautiful song to motivate onward and upward.
Attendees at the Muse Awards are there for one thing: to celebrate and recognize fellow women who continue to strive among sexism, ageism and devastating statistics. Being in the presence of this incredible league of extraordinary women, the room was filled with only hope, inspiration, gratitude and celebration.
As Victoria Alonso said in her speech, “every work environment is better when we are in it” just before she sang the chorus to “I’m So Excited,” followed by a sweet serenade of a song from 1982’s Fame.
Every woman has had her share of hurdles in her career that make each one of us doubt our journey and place in the room. Being at the Muse Awards, each honoree reflects on how they overcame their challenges to succeed in their lives. Those moments remind us that we need these hurdles just as much as our triumphs.
That is what makes the Muse Awards so special. It is an event to be felt by every woman.
As the new year approaches, with more tackles and hurdles to be had, we can look back to our muses and remember that without challenges, we can not achieve greatness.
Journalist and author Charlayne Hunter-Gault began her career as a reporter to The New Yorker, where she still contributes, and was the Harlem bureau chief for The New York Times. She worked for 20 years with PBS NewsHour where she was a national and international correspondent as well as a substitute anchor.READ MORE
NYWIFT member Cait Cortelyou has performed on stage or film since childhood but makes a breakthrough debut as producer (and star) of Ask for Jane, which screens at the NYWIFT Member Screening Series on November 19th. Cait sat down with us to discuss how a slice of women's history inspired her to make her producing debut, and what opportunities she sees for women working in the industry today.READ MORE