Goodbye, winter caps—hello, summer hats! It’s that glorious time of year where many of us can switch from content creators to content consumers. NYWIFT members Mellini Kantayya and Kathryn O’Kane have put together #SummerHours, a series of fun summer books, movies, and TV shows by or about women.
By Kathryn O’Kane
“Start with a yes and see where that takes you.”
— Tina Fey, Bossy Pants
Tina Fey (NYWIFT Muse Honoree ’05) is a triple threat: writer, producer and performer with a cutting sense of humor. In 1999, she became the first head writer on Saturday Night Live. She created and starred in the Emmy award-winning comedy 30 Rock. Her portrayal of Sarah Palin during the 2008 election was an instant classic. Ms. Fey most recently created and starred in the show Great News on NBC. Her film Mean Girls has been adapted for the stage, which is currently running on Broadway.
In her 2011 book Bossypants, Ms. Fey recounts stories of her childhood; from her tough father, for whom most of the worlds ills can be described as “defective” and “inexcusable,” to her awkward teens and college years, which no doubt shaped her sense of humor and weltanschauung. She also recalls her rise to head writer on SNL, her connection to Sarah Palin, what she learned from Lorne Michaels (producing is about discouraging creativity) and the differences between male and female comedy writers (the men urinate in cups).
Ms. Fey’s advice to women in the workplace:
“As a female producer I have a tacit ‘No Hotheads’ policy. For years to be considered a genius in comedy, people had to be considered dangerous and unpredictable…I hire the most talented of the people who are the least likely to throw a punch in the workplace. I don’t ever want to get punched in the face over a joke.”
And those, my friends, are words to live by.
(Cover photo by Bridgette Matthews)
NYWIFT and USA Local 829 member Naomi Wolff Lachter has designed the costumes for feature films, dozens of plays and musicals, and assistant designed on several major TV series. Every day she is on the job, Naomi posts a motivational saying from her whiteboard on her Instagram account, @wolffie78. She offered us insight into her philosophy – and why good vibes are contagious.READ MORE
An alarmingly disproportionate number of Black women are failed every year by the U.S. maternal health system – and it is a crisis that has been largely ignored thus far. In the Sundance 2022 documentary Aftershock, Directors Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee follow the bereaved partners of two of these women as they fight for justice and build communities of support, bonding especially with other surviving Black fathers. The story is presented within the historical context of racism throughout the U.S. healthcare system, and the deadly tendency to ignore or minimize Black women’s pain and concerns.
NYWIFT Member Paula Eiselt spoke to us about how she and Lewis Lee approached this harrowing topic, and why community activists are the natural heroes of her creative work.
13 members played a key creative role in 11 different projects featured in Sundance this year – and two of them fall under the Executive Producer expertise of prolific NYWIFT Member Sara Bernstein! Bernstein heads to Sundance with Amy Poehler’s documentary Lucy and Desi, which brings the iconic pair’s humanity to life through an exploration of their personal and professional partnership, as well as Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, comprehensive investigation into the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and a look at the families and officials fighting for justice.
We spoke to Bernstein specifically about Downfall and how she hopes her team’s work will make an impact.
Rachel Lears returns to Sundance on the heels of her 2019 festival smash-hit Knock Down the House, which sold to Netflix for a record $10 million, making it the biggest documentary sale ever brokered at a film festival. The film followed female insurgent candidates hoping to topple incumbents in an electric primary race for Congress, and focused heavily on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she became the youngest member of the U.S. Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez now appears again in Lears’s To the End, this time as an established leader raising up another generation of young activists. We spoke to Lears about her process, watching Ocasio-Cortez develop as a politician, and why she still has hope in the face of the climate crisis.