Women In Film celebrated Black History Month with a breakfast panel in Malibu, California, hosted by Candace Bowen, on Friday, Feb 8, 2013. To take you there, we drove up the coast early to The Chart House to hear eight motivational stories from award-winning actresses, BET producers, keynote speakers, authors, researchers, business management advisors and even a judge.
Kimberly Olgletree moderated this panel of inspirational leaders, who were very open and encouraging. Kim started her career doing hundreds of music videos for superstars LL Cool, Stevie Wonder, Will Smith, Boyz II Men, and Public Enemy. Kim is also a Supervising Producer for Development and Special Projects at BET with a long list of producing credits. Below is a recap of this rock star panel:
Emayatzy E Corinealdi, who played the role of Ruby in the Sundance Film Festival award winner for Best Director, US Dramatic, “Middle of Nowhere.” When asked about her audition, she explained that she originally went for the role of the sister, and was asked to read for the lead instead. She explained, “It’s the moment that you really hope for as an actor when you finally get a chance to showcase what you can do, and in turn hope that people will see that and it will lead to other things.” Since this film, Emayatzy was signed by ICM and has had roles on TV shows, "Gun Hill", "Young and the Restless", and "The Nanny Express."
Judge Carla L Garrett, an Administrative Law Judge for the State of California, told funny stories about how she moved up the ranks by standing up for herself whenever others tried to pull her back. She’s a graduate of UCLA and USC School of Law, and specializes in business litigation, civil rights and insurance defense. With a big smile, she showed her book, A Little Child Shall Lead Them, that shares her secrets to success.
Stacy L Smith, a Ph.D. University of CA, Santa Barbara, is part of the USC Annenberg faculty. She shared findings from a Sundance Institute /WIF/USC Annenberg Study about female filmmakers that covers 2002 to 2012. When looking at the sex of 11,197 directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and edits, the study showed 25.3% of all content creators were female in narratives and 39.1% in documentaries. There is a ton of great data in this study so we will do a separate story on this topic. A record number of female filmmakers at Sundance 2013 was a huge theme at Sundance this year that we covered.
Dr. Jewel Diamond Tayor (aka Self-Esteem Doctor) is a conference keynote speaker, author, life coach, radio personality and Founder of Women on the Grow. She entertained the group with inspirational thoughts by asking everyone to say, “It’s just a matter of time” before the moment happens. One of my favorite quotes from Dr Taylor was, “Get your BUT out of the way!” She added, “It’s just a matter of time before things will change if you constantly put yourself in the right place with the right supporting cast…It’s so healthy to find secure people.”
Gina M McAllister received an MBA in Finance from Howard University (and there were several Howard grads at this event cheering.) Gina and her Fortitude Financial Management partner, Khansa Jones-Muhammed, were both there to offer advice for the business side of movies. She also organizes The Blackhouse at Sundance, which was just a few weeks ago. This SFF hub is open to the public and growing in popularity as a place where all voices are heard. They watched the Presidential inauguration there, and Gina described it as, “It’s like home, and our tag line is where black films live.”
Khansa Jones Muhammad also went to Howard University, and received a BA in Business Administration. She has 17 years of business management experience working with high net worth individuals and entertainment clients, including the Chairman of Paramount Pictures, Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Investor and Goldman Sachs Managing Director.
Traci Carter Holsey also shared her inspirational story about “small beginnings,” and how she worked on wedding videos for friends that led her to do reality shows. Tracey has since done work for BET, and is a Producer for "Leave it to Niecy" and "Let's Talk About Love."
During the Q&A, Emayatzy Corinealdi was asked for her best advice for an actor. While she admitted that this advice did not impress her at first, Emayatzy said the best advice she ever got was from Angela Bassett who told her, “Own the room.” No acting classes or resume can replace owning the room.
As we watched the sun come up over the Pacific Ocean, the panel just kept wowing us with words of wisdom. Many thanks to Candace Bowen, Lucy Webb and Women In Film for organizing this breakfast. And as Dr. Taylor said, let’s celebrate our “sheroes and heroes 365 days a year.”