Empowerment. Be Anything Or Be Realistic?

Here's a question I grapple with every day in relation to raising my son, and, the messaging I send out to the young women on my platforms. Do I tell them they can do and be anything or do I warn them about the harsh realities of the world?  I was raced with the former 'be anything' messaging and I don't believe I would have been able to navigate the world as I have, feeling it was against me. I have friends who were raised that way and it made them hesitant, nervous, defensive. And sometimes you need a bit of naïveté to push past that. You'll deal with the obstacles as and when they arrive, hopefully surrounded by the right mentors and support structure.

Happy New Year!

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I added my name to the TIMESUP Letter of Solidarity

300 leading women across the entertainment industry just launched a wide reaching campaign to combat sexual harassment and support disenfranchised women on the receiving end of unwanted advances. Entitled TIMESUP, the initiative does three key things:

  • Provides a $13 million legal defense fund to help women in blue-collar jobs and farm work
  • Drafts of legislation to punish companies that tolerate sexual harassment and to discourage nondisclosure agreements in such cases.
  • Pushes to reach gender parity in Hollywood studios and talent agencies; and a call for women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes to wear black as a sign of protest and solidarity.

This is an important step in the right direction, particularly in its support of women without the power or platform to stand up to abuse. The campaign was launched via a full page open letter in the New York Times. I just added my name to the Letter of Solidarity and donated to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.  It feels like a powerful way to start the year.

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The Woman Behind Star Wars' Increased Diversity

I finally saw The Last Jedi last night and it was well worth the wait. So thrilling and fun with thoughtful, compelling storylines. And, best of all, so rich in diversity.  And that's thanks in no small part to Kiri Hart, head of the Lucasfilm story group. Formed by Kathleen Kennedy in 2012, the group has overseen an increase in strong, diverse leading and supporting roles within the franchise. In a recent New York Times interview, Hart said: "The characters that end up on screen are there because there is a groundswell of energy around this idea of creating a more honest reflection of the world around us.” So true. And given Star Wars' massive influence and reach, the impact of Hart's input cannot be underestimated. 

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Kelly Marie Tran, John Boyega/Credit: Lucasfilm

The Woman We All Go To For Self Care

Self care is a much bandied about word. But as every day brings fresh political insanity, the only way to keep focused is to stay emotionally and physically centered. Enter wellness and lifestyle guru Latham Thomas, who has been such a positive grounding influence in my life and the lives of so many. I plan to spend the holidays thinking about how best to apply the principles of her beautiful new book, "Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within", to my own life.  #MamaGlow #selfcare #wcw

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And The Word Of The Year Is Feminism

Merriam Webster just announced that feminism is its word of the year. It was the most looked up term on its online dictionary, generating 70% more searches than 2016. In the year of the Women's March, Wonder Woman and the #MeToo movement, it's no surprise that interest in the word spiked. Women are speaking up and speaking out in greater numbers than ever in a quest to create equity for all.

We are still hugely marginalized across all areas of society - socially and economically - making up pitiful percentages of leadership positions, receiving less pay than our male counterparts and on the receiving end of constant harassment. Globally, we're seeing an increased use of systematic rape as a weapon of war in modern conflicts. 

The Webster dictionary defines feminism as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" and as the "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests." After a year where many of society ills and injustices against the female population were laid bare for all to see, lets hope 2018 marks the beginning of real and lasting change

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Why You Need To Manage Your Personal Brand

I've spent most of my career in the film business and care so passionately about the advancement of women filmmakers, so it was a thrill to be asked to host a workshop on personal branding and mission statements for the women selected to join the Sundance Institute fellowship program. 

Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands and establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual. It's how you’re perceived. Everyone has a unique personal brand, whether they know it or not. And ideally you control it - it's the image you project to the world that aligns with your mission.

The world likes to put people in boxes and project ideas onto us, so if you don't have a strong sense of self, then you're just a passive bystander in your own career.

Katie Doering, Lauren Wolkstein, Su Kim, Lana Wilson, Dee Poku, Yoruba Richen, Sabrina Gordon, Elisabeth Holm

Katie Doering, Lauren Wolkstein, Su Kim, Lana Wilson, Dee Poku, Yoruba Richen, Sabrina Gordon, Elisabeth Holm

Glamour's Women of the Year

Every year Glamour Magazine's Cindi Leive brings together the most inspiring change-makers, to shine a light on the important work they do to move the needle on key issues for women and for all marginalized communities. For her last awards as Editor in Chief of the magazine, Cindi assembled a veritable roll call of the most powerful activists, artists and advocates of our time. They included Maxine Waters, Solange, astronaut Peggy Whitson, Sarah Weddington (Roe v Wade), Ruby Bridges, Samantha Bee, Zendaya, Anita Hill, Chimamanda Adichie, Serena Williams, and the list goes on. The event reaffirmed my faith in the power of the women's movement and that women will be the ones to lead us forward to a better future. The future is female!

Cindi Leive, Dee Poku

Cindi Leive, Dee Poku

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

Solange

Solange

The Women's Convention Gave Me Life

The movement created by the Women's March organizers continues to go from strength to strength. Last weekend I spoke at their first convention in Detroit, which brought together 4000 women from across the country to discuss everything from running for office to immigration reform. I personally spoke on three panels - exploring the role of cultural influencers which featured Ibtihaj Muhammed, Piper Perabo, Yandy Smith and Jackie Cruz;  the status of women in film with Alia Shawkat, Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker and Amber Tamblyn and and the importance of entrepreneurship with Piera Gelardi, Jennifer DaSilva, Tracy Reese and Arian Simone

Being at the convention was like being with family.  I was so inspired and moved by all the women I met and their powerful stories. From the mothers who travelled in from Flint to learn how to best to use their voices as activists, to the budding young filmmaker being sexually harassed by a supposed mentor, everyone was there to share, support and learn. A huge thank you to all the amazing speakers and participants who shared such great wisdom.

Yandy Smith, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Piper Perabo, Dee Poku, Jackie Cruz

Yandy Smith, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Piper Perabo, Dee Poku, Jackie Cruz

Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Dee Poku, Amber Tamblyn, Alia Shawkat

Piper Perabo, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Dee Poku, Amber Tamblyn, Alia Shawkat