41st Anniversary Women in Film and Television Awards promises to be inspirational

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Honorees from left to right: Rashida Jones, Alana Mayo, Ali Stroker, Rachel Brosnahan, Awkwafina, Jodi Kantor, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Megan Twohey
Image provided by NYWIFT

On Dec. 17, the annual New York Women in Film and Television Muse Awards (NYWIFT) will be brought to you virtually.

amNewYork Metro spoke to the organization’s Executive Director, Cynthia López about the event and the luminary honorees.

This is the 41st anniversary of the NYWIFT Muse Awards event. Can you tell me a bit about its history and mission?

We’re thrilled at NYWIFT to be celebrating the 41st anniversary of the Muse Awards. The Muse Awards was originally started to recognize the talents and contributions of women in the media and entertainment industry 41 years ago to spark change.

We’re thrilled that during the holiday season we are able to this year to recognize these incredible honorees for their visions, achievements and unique qualities. 

In terms of how this event impacts the field, I think that many young women, and men, who are entering the field can look at the honorees for their dedication, commitment and talent—personally I am inspired by their passion and their dedication and they really serve as role models for girls and role models in the future.

When I look at women like Alano Mayo I realize the many advances that have taken place. Not only has she risen to being the president of Orion Pictures, she is the first Black woman to hold that position. Stories like these make me know that progress is being made.

Your list of honorees is an impressive mix of women from an array of creative fields: from music to journalism to actors. Is it important to you to include women from different creative industries each year?

Absolutely. We do want to showcase various aspects of the entertainment industry and so from my perspective, we are thrilled to have Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of The New York Times. Because women journalists are so necessary for a variety of reasons, including their look at the world, their vision of the world, and to have journalists like them included—the range for us is very exciting. So I am thrilled at the level of diversity that we currently have this year.

The importance of body positivity and racial diversity is being taken as vital now. But is change happening fast enough?

You see, I’m a kid of the 60s and 70s. So I believe that change is imminent but change is slow. Nothing happens immediately. But I am hopeful that the more women—such as the women we are honoring—that are in positions of power to green-light women’s stories the more we will see change in society and in the ability to be able to tell our diverse stories.

What can we expect from this virtual show?

It’s an exciting one-hour show that shows that what used to be very difficult to achieve in terms of your career these women in very different ways have achieved excellence and so it’s a one hour, funny, soulful experience of women talking about their careers and what motivated them to do what they do, and how they are surviving the pandemic and the current civil rights unrest. They are also given a platform to discuss their activist and advocacy activities.

We are also launching a campaign called Hire Her Back, because we want to help women–and not just female actors, but all women –whose livelihoods have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual show also offers our honorees a chance to promote charitable work and organizations.

Speaking of patriarchy and male domination in both everyday life and entertainment, how much of a difference do you think the #MeTo and #TimesUp movements had?

I think it’s instrumental. Both of these movements have been instrumental in promoting change in the industry. When I look at the past several years — I tend to be a person who looks at the aerial view. And with these two movements we’ve had three things going on. I think one is that we are seeing more than ever before, women taking their rightful place in government. And at the same time we have had people speak out about sexual harassment and demonization in ways they never have before. So that combination of women in government looking at legislation that impacts all people, and not just those that work in Hollywood, about the abuses that they had endured — in my mind we need both things for change.

The New York Women in Film and Television Muse Awards will be broadcast virtually on Dec. 17, 1 p.m. Plans to air on an as-yet unknown date on TV in the spring. Visit nywift.org/muse/ for more information on how to tune in, and for a full list of honorees.