We’re counting down the 40 days to NYWIFT’s 40th Anniversary Muse Awards with a look at some of our favorite honorees, all women of vision and achievement who have contributed to the film and television industry. Join us as we look back at #Muse40for40, and buy your tickets for the Muse Awards on Tuesday, December 10th at nywift.org/muse!
#30: Maysoon Zayid
By Kathryn O’Kane
Actor, writer, comedian and activist Maysoon Zayid co-founded and co- produced the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and The Muslim Funny Fest. Zayid had the most viewed TED Talk of 2014. She has also appeared in a variety of documentaries and movies including You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and The Muslims are Coming! She is an ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, a frequent news commentator and walked in New York Fashion Week. Zayid is developing a comedy series for ABC network titled Can-Can, which is based on her personal experiences.
Urging the hiring of more people with disabilities: “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. Make a pledge today to make your lives inclusive.”
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.
New NYWIFT Board Member Sibyl Santiago says, 'I am humbled and I am very proud to be part of NYWIFT. I’m very proud of this organization. These women are working very hard for all of you and I’m really happy to be able to give back and hopefully work for you as well.'READ MORE
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.