Anytime a group of powerful women get together in one room, powerful things are bound to happen. This time, it was the Women in Film 2018 Crystal + Lucy Awards, and the room where it happened was the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton, famous for hosting the Golden Globe Awards. In a year of unprecedented change in the industry as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements propelled women to come forward with their own stories of assault and marginalization, the awards event provided an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements as trailblazers in Hollywood, onscreen and off-, as leaders and advocates.
Honorees included Brie Larson, winner of the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film; Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment and winner of the Lucy Award for Excellence in Television (named in honor of Lucille Ball); Alexandra Shipp, emerging actress and winner of the Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award; music producers Denisia “Blu June” Andrews and Brittany “Chi” Coney of Nova Wav, winners of the Women in Film Artistic Excellence Award; and the women of Black Panther (in front of and behind the camera), winners of the Lexus Beacon Award. Also honored: Dr. Stacy L. Smith, co-founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, aka the “Inclusion Rider,” alongside notable filmmakers and advocates, as part of the Women in Film 45 Years of Advocacy Celebration.
Leading off the event, Women in Film president Cathy Schulman exclaimed: “Something amazing is happening in Hollywood — women are exhausted! I guess that means we're working!” The theme, “Ignite,” emphasized inspiring women and igniting a movement for greater inclusion. Not to be outdone, Frances McDormand, presenter of the advocacy award, showed up with an “Inclusion Rider” bumper sticker she modeled while telling the story of how she first learned about this concept, which originated from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, co-created by Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni and Smith. As McDormand shared, “I was told I could have it all and lo and behold, I did … but many haven't.”
As role models for young girls, several of the women presenting and accepting awards talked of their experiences as girls, their experiences as mothers of girls and the importance of strong role models. Alexandra Shipp told L.A. Weekly: “I feel so lucky that I’m being recognized for the hard work I’ve been doing. Being around all of these incredible women in film … I’m just incredibly humbled by it. I just feel like the luckiest girl on the planet.” Actress Regina Hall presented Shipp with her award on stage.
Brie Larson used her time to share data recently released by an Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study on gender and race/ethnicity of film reviewers, shining a light on how of the top 100 films reviewed in 2017, nearly 78 percent of reviews were written by men, and mostly white men. Only 18 percent of critics were white women. Less than 5 percent of critics were women of color. When asked about what the evening meant to her, Brie Larson told L.A. Weekly: “I’m excited to be in the room with all these incredible women.”
While many people outside the film industry haven’t heard of Nova Wav, their reputation inside the industry — as a top music producing and songwriting team — is first-rate. When asked what the award means to them, Denisia Andrews replied for the duo: “This award means everything … to be amongst the beautiful, courageous and talented women in this room — it means everything.” Later, when receiving the award, she said, “We're here to pave the way for change.”
Victoria Alonso, executive vice president of Marvel Studios, accepting the Beacon Award, shared with L.A. Weekly, “I’m proud to be here representing Black Panther, the pride and joy of my career.” While the night emphasized celebration, Alonso also took note of how challenging the past year has been for women in the industry. “This has been a difficult year for women … a lot about growth.” She asked audience members to close their eyes and connect with their 7-year-old inner-child, as she sang almost a lullaby in her conclusion.
Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA, told L.A. Weekly: “This year is a special year where there’s been a lot of movement and discussion. There’s an opening and an awareness. Some of the people who are recognized tonight are people who really leaned into this conversation, and not only leaned into the conversation but actually have created action.”
Following a video tribute, and an introduction by actress Ellen Pompeo, ABC's Channing Dungey took the stage with her 5-year-old daughter, who kept the audience entertained as she fetched her mother’s speech and tugged at her side. Dungey, who recently made headlines for canceling the rebooted sitcom Roseanne after its star's racist tweet, didn’t miss a beat, showing how imperative it is to walk the talk as a role model. In her concluding remarks, she advised the Women in Film community, “I do believe that big change is afoot. We can't be afraid to stand up, to speak up, to rise up. We have to act with purpose and determination.”