Saturday, December 14, 2019

The 40th Annual New York Women in Film & Television MUSE Awards: Inspiration and Hope from Honorees Gloria Estefan, Ann Dowd, Anjali Sud, Kasi Lemmon, Jane Rosenthal, Shoshanna Stern & Caroline Hirsch

2019 NYWIFT Honoree Gloria Estefan at Hilton Midtown NYC
Inspiration and progress. That's the message that came from the New York Women in Film and Television's 40th Annual MUSE Awards ceremony held at the Hilton Midtown in bustling New York City on December 10, 2019.

And the 2019 Honorees were:
Ann Dowd, Actor, Gloria Estefan, Singer/Actor/Executive, Anjali Sud, CEO, Vimeo, Kasi Lemmons, Director (Nancy Malone Directing Award),Jane Rosenthal, CEO Tribeca Enterprises (Career Impact Achievement Award),and Shoshannah Stern, Writer/Creator (Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award). The Made in NY Award went to Caroline Hirsch, Carolines on Broadway Owner/NY Comedy Festival Founder
NYWIFT 2019 Muse Awards                                                                                             Photo from Facebook 

As I sat in the room with 1200 women in entertinament (with maybe a dozen or so men dining on the salmon entree) I felt the energy that now is the time. It was more hopeful than the year prior. The recent movements are entrenched in our society now and helping. Women are plugging along in this industry and making strides. Though women have always had a real presence in indie film making, the news, for instance that four major studio movies are being directed by women in 2020 gives renewed hope. 

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After listening to these accomplished women give their acceptance speeches which were poignant, information, funny and hopeful, it could be said that the main theme was to use "no" as an opportunity. 

2019 NYWIFT Honoree Ann Dowd

Here are some of the many takeaways and pearls of wisdom I gathered that day. Indeed, for any women in entertainment in this area, this was the place to be. 

Many of the women  spoke about who were their muses. Director of Harriet, Kasi Lemmons, said that "Harriet Tubman was her muse", and that she prayed to her every day during filming  for direction and inspiration. Anjali Sud, who became CEO of Vimeo at 34, said "I like that word." She stated "My muses arethe stories that spark inspiration, ideas and action."

2019 NYWIFT Honoree Anjali Sud

Shoshannah Stern talked about her "normal" life until she went to kindergarten and was labeled as "broken". But she did not let her different way of communicating stop her. She talked about the importance of hiring people with disabilities, and took pride in saying that on her set filming got done on time. She said that "they didn't have to stop filming" to communicate issues because enough people knew sign language that they could just talk without stopping. 

2019 NYWIFT Muse Awards Honoree Shosshannah Stern

Ann Dowd talked about how she was a pre-med student. Then her father died senior year in college and it made her re-evaluate her goals. She said, "Grief can be a beautiful thing."

Gloria Estefan talked about she and her family's beginnings, from Cuba to the United States. She gave the story about her mom, an entrerprenuer in her own right who saw a need in their neighborhood - and on a neighboring ballfield - and filled it. She talked about her strength and how she drew from that. She said that her mother and grandmother were her muses. She said "We all need our muses. We need them, we love them, they come in all shapes and sizes."

2019 NYWIFT Honoree Gloria Estefan                                                    Photo  Suzanne Ordas Curry

Caroline Hirsh talked about starting up Caroline's, how she knew there was a better way to have a comedy club than a dark room with a "fake brick wall." She reminisced about a young scrappy kid she gave his first break to, which was Jay Leno. She thanked all those that have supported her saying that she did not do all this on her own.

Jane Rosenthal talked about her career and starting the TriBeCa Film Festival with Robert Di Niro after 9-11, as a way to bring people and hope to the neighborhood. And a welcome surprise, 'Bobby" Di Niro showed up to congratulate Jane Rosenthal. Jane said that "everyone knows Bobby's favorite four letter word, but mine now is MUSE!"

Robert DiNiro congratulates 2019 NYWIFT Honoree Jane Rosenthal                                  Photo Facebook 

Some inspiring quotes from the event:

 "We are New Yorkers if we need to get somewhere we put our feet down and walk!" - Anne Dowd

"We create impact when we commit to do something" - Jane Rosenthal

"Pray that we are strong enough to fight for equal rights, inclusion and the earth. If you fight alongside and for each other with our sheer will we can do anyrhing - Kasi Lemon 

"To succeed... Find what you are passionate about.  Bring solutions to the table." Anjali Sud

 "I feel like everything I do is a startup.. The easy can be done overnight it's the impossible that takes time." - Jane Rosenthal

"Occupy your own space." - Anjali Sud

"Aging is undervalued. Use the gift you have been given, trust yourself and trust that there is a place at the table for you." - Ann Dowd

2019 NYWIFT Honoree Caroline Hirsch

2019 Designing Women Honoree Florence Riccie with Daughter Vicky Galow and Host Nancy Giles

2019 NYWIFT Honoree Kasi Lemmon
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