Playing a queen and the mother of dragons on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has taught Emilia Clarke how to be powerful in real life, the actress told a group of leading Hollywood women executives at TheWrap’s 7th annual Power Women breakfast in Beverly Hills on Wednesday.
“Walking into rooms in Hollywood, they see you as holding that strength,” Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on the fantasy hit series, said of a Hollywood industry dominated by men. “That makes things a lot easier when you’ve had little-to-no experience. Being a young girl starting out, and not being American… it’s a different feeling. People are ready for you to be strong.”
TheWrap’s 7th LA-based Power Women Breakfast was a summit on important issues facing women leaders. It included Shivani Siroya, the CEO of Inventure, which provides low-cost credit to people in the developing world; the creative team behind the sexual assault documentary “The Hunting Ground;” and two international journalists, winners of International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism awards. Each of was there to celebrate leadership and engage in a dialogue about the advancement of women.
The event at Ocean Prime restaurant in Beverly Hills kicked off with Clarke speaking to TheWrap CEO and Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman about her personal experiences in show business and how her popular “Thrones” character, also known as Khaleesi, has changed her life.
The 29-year-old actress said she was raised by a strong mother with a career, and a father who taught her there was no difference between men and women.
“I was brought up by a very strong mum,” she said. “I was brought up not being told there is a difference between men and women, truly. She inspired me to be a strong woman myself. She asked for my opinion.”
But Clarke has found that doesn’t always carry over for other women in the industry — especially how they are treated in comparison to men.
“As soon as I stopped self-obsessedly thinking how I could get through days filming… I’ve had a bit more familiarity. I can see the cracks. Women are perceived differently. People perceive there is a difference in how men and women should be treated,” Clarke told the room, which included “Togetherness” actress Melanie Lynskey, Frances Fisher, “Brooklyn Nine Nine” star Stephanie Beatriz, “Transparent”‘s Amy Landecker, “You’re The Worst” actress Kether Donohue and legendary songwriter Diane Warren.
It’s a lesson she takes with her on set, as she’s in the middle of filming the series’ sixth season. It also helps her appreciate those CGI dragons she raised.
“It’s her liberation. It’s her ultimate weapon. It’s this force to be reckoned with that’s a gift given to her, and enables her to fulfill every ounce of potential she has as a leader and a warrior,” said Clarke.
The sentiment brought smiles to industry heavyweights in attendance including producer Paula Wagner, Women in Film President Cathy Schulman, Creative Future CEO Ruth Vitale, reality producer SallyAnn Salsano, Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam and feature film program director Michelle Satter, SAG Awards Executive Producer Kathy Connell, Skydance CMO Anne Globe, Conde Nast’s Patti Rockenwagner, LA Film Festival director Stephanie Allain, Associated Press writer and IWMF honoree Linda Deutsch, producer Martha De Laurentiis, American Cinematheque programmer Gwen Deglise and Future Cities founder Donna Bojarsky,
Speaking of warriors, the morning’s next speaker is waging a battle to gain financial access for people across the developing world — those who have never heard of a credit score, let alone the process to qualify for financial gain using one.
Inventure CEO and founder Siroya talked about building a unique way of providing credit to people in societies that do not have credit systems – mainly in Africa. The Inventure system loans money based on simple data and a short questionnaire that takes a few minutes on a phone app.
“We develop financial identities,” Siroya said. “Your cell phone is literally your entire daily life: the people you talk to, where you go, what job you have.”
Siroya used the example of an independent restaurant owner who only makes a profit of $5-$10 per day in West Africa. If he needs a loan to buy fruits and vegetables, he’ll have to turn to loan sharks for an interest rate of a staggering 330%-700%.
Inventure uses a questionnaire and backend data form that is used to build a new kind of score, and, if approved, deposits a loan into the restaurant’s mobile wallet for a 3-5% APR.
“There 2.5 billion people around the world in the informal economy. We ask ourselves, ‘How can we provide financial access to people we’ve never seen or heard before?'”
In a surprise appearance filmmaker Amy Ziering and legendary songwriter Diane Warren discussed their collaboration on “Til It Happens to You,” a song Warren wrote for Ziering’s college campus sexual assault documentary “The Hunting Ground.”
Sung by Lady Gaga, the track was accompanied by a Catherine Hardwicke music video with harrowing depictions of assault. It has become a viral sensation, with over 18 million views on YouTube. After remarks about the making of “Hunting Ground,” Ziering gave a rousing call to the women present.
“We are 51 percent of the population. We don’t need to follow the rules, we need to make them,” Ziering said.
The conversation then turned from the voiceless to those who fight oppression to be heard. Mwape Kumwenda, of Muvi Television in Zambia and Anna Nemtsova, Moscow-based correspondent for The Daily Beast and Newsweek, shared the stories that led them to receive the 2015 International Women in Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Awards.
“For the last two years, I’ve been covering the war in Ukraine,” Nemtsova told the audience. “These kinds of stories we have to tell, you report during the day, file in the evening and then they arrest you on some checkpoint. They wear masks, they are armed,” she said.
Kumwenda has gone undercover to investigate government corruption, illegal land grabs and murders at maximum-security prisons, work she does with no fear.
“I don’t feel very scared about doing my work because I know I am doing it for the public good. It’s based on the truth, and the bible says, ‘You shall be saved by the truth.’ And that I believe,” Kumwenda said.
The event was co-hosted by Box.org’s Karen Appleton, with additional sponsors Creative Future, Bank of America and Lifetime. A charity auction was also held benefiting the IWMF with donations from Ferragamo, Burberry, Armani and other brands.
In 2015, TheWrap expanded its successful Power Women Breakfast