Welcome to the Power Women Summit 2022: A Time of Crisis – and Opportunity

Women face an onslaught of push-back — but we’re not gonna panic

power women summit sharon waxman
Sharon Waxman at the Power Women Summit

Sharon Waxman

Sharon Waxman On the Business of Entertainment

The founder and editor of TheWrap’s take on life on the left coast, high culture, low culture and the business of entertainment and media. Waxman writes frequently on the inside doings of Hollywood, and is is also the author of two books, Rebels on the Back Lot and Loot

We had to bring the Power Women Summit back in person this year because — simply put — we all need it.

There is power in numbers. There is comfort in being together. And there is in the gathering of so many women in one place a resolve to get to a better status quo for women and underrepresented people in this country and, indeed, around the world. 

How can I look you in the eye and tell you that things are fine? Things are not fine. 

Things are not fine for women whose rights took a giant leap backward this year. Not fine for the LGBTQ community that suffers unspeakable, hateful violence. For people of color still living the trauma of George Floyd and others. For the brave survivors of sexual assault who dared speak out and still need healing.  No. 

We are in the crucible of change and therefore the forces that liked things the way they were — they are pushing back. Hard. But we’re not going to panic.

I don’t know that any of us, one year ago at last year’s dinner honoring the year’s biggest Changemakers, knew that Roe v. Wade would be consigned to history within months. And now sometimes, as we watch in amazement at the laws getting passed that actually seem to exist merely to punish women, we may feel like we are living in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” 

Which brings me to this event and you, the women of entertainment and media. People who have unequaled influence on our world, because you write the stories. You put the stories on screen. You seek out the facts. You greenlight the projects. You do the deals. 

Our honored Changemakers are the proof that determination and resolve lead to great achievements. People like Janet Yang, the first Asian to lead the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  Like Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun reform group, Moms Demand Action, who propelled 140 of her volunteers into office in November. Like Lizzo, whose insistence on self-love, first, spills over to her love for others. 

PWS Changemakers Collage Feature Image

And in this awards season the voices of women and others pushed to the margins are being heard.

“The Woman King,” the true story of Africa’s Agojie warriors that Viola Davis and Gina Prince-Bythewood turned into an action movie is unlike one we’ve ever seen before. Or “She Said,” a brave greenlight decision from Universal, tells the story of the journalists who exposed the crimes of Harvey Weinstein. He still faces a verdict from a jury downtown. 

Or “Women Talking,” Sarah Polley’s meditation on women, raised and trained to be submissive, who finally push back against the violence in their midst. 

This is progress, in Hollywood at least. The latest study by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative finds that women have directed about 12% of the top-grossing movies for the past few years. And women have much higher representation in streaming projects:

  • Amazon in 2020 and 2021, had women accounting for 37.5% of its directors in 2020 and 2021, while 32% came from underrepresented groups. 
  • Disney+ had 29% female directors and 29% directors of color. 
  • HBO Max had 19.5% female directors and 31.7% for underrepresented groups.
  • At Netflix, female filmmakers directed 18% of its original slate and directors from underrepresented groups counted for 26.3% of the total.

At the summit, we will be talking to Hillary and Chelsea Clinton about leadership, about our current state of politics and about failing and trying again. You will hear from Lena Dunham about her journey from being the “It” woman of the zeitgeist and where she has gone from there, and we’ll hear from Thuso Mbedu, the remarkable star of “The Woman King.” 

We are excited to be bringing women together for two days of incredible discussions, interviews, workshops, to have people from all over the industry, from the most powerful to the newly initiated to those who are just knocking on the door.

Thank you all for being here – and onward to the Summit! The livestream for Tuesday’s virtual day starts at 10 am PST and can be joined here.