Welcome to the Power Women Summit 2020, ‘Inclusion 360’!

Because what happens in the heart of entertainment spreads all over the world

Sharon Waxman at the Power Women Summit 2019
Sharon Waxman at the Power Women Summit 2019

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

Welcome to the Power Women Summit, whose theme this year is “Inclusion 360.” Starting Tuesday, we are embarking on a three-day journey together, to explore conversations about diversity and inclusion and equality. We are excited to welcome the historic figure Anita Hill, returning to the Summit to speak about Hollywood’s progress in combatting sexual misconduct. We will welcome actor and director Regina King, Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush (D-Missouri) – and so many others. But this event is about you – our audience. We are here in an historic year to come together — as women and men. As artists and business leaders, young and old. As people committed to being part of the change that is happening in our world. The Summit is a space to celebrate equality and inclusion, the values we want to see in society and in particular in entertainment and media. Because what happens in the heart of entertainment spreads all over the world. And while we couldn’t be together in person this year,  2020 was not a time for us to skip the Summit. On the contrary, it’s a time to make sure we stay the course and move forward. Thousands of you signed up to be here today because you know what happens when we show up together:  Progress. Inclusion. Welcome to all of you. But let’s be honest. Not every step taken is forward. And not every change is the kind we want to see. This year has been a year of tragedy, and of hope. Tragedy in the pandemic that is still ravaging our country, shutting down our industry, and making the future precarious for so many and uncertain for us all. Tragedy in the cruel, careless deaths of people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. But it is also a year of hope. People of all colors and backgrounds came together to demand an end to systemic racism. More voters came to the polls than we’ve seen in more than 100 years. And that ended in the election of our first female, Black and South Asian Vice President, Kamala Harris. (Kamala, we were lucky to have you open the Summit last year. Now you’re headed to the White House!) There has been nothing but disruption this year in entertainment and media — theaters closing, companies merging, layoffs happening. There is suffering because of this. Women and underrepresented groups have suffered more than most. But we’ve also seen women and minorities continue their historic rise. The shows and the movies are telling stories we have not seen before, whether the documentary “On the Record,” or the series “Watchmen.” We’ve seen women rising in the executive suites — and congratulations to Pearlena Igbokwe, who became chairwoman of the Universal Studio Group, and to Susan Rovner and Frances Berwick now running NBC’s entertainment group. And to Channing Dungey, now running Warner Bros. Television. And to Ann Sarnoff, running Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza
We have also seen the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences  do the unthinkable — create incentives in the awards races to diversify the movies that tell the stories of the world, to the world. According to UCLA’s annual Hollywood Diversity Report — way back in February —  women and minorities are now within striking distance, as Professor Darnell Hunt put it, of proportionate representation when it comes to lead roles and total cast in movies. And in the TV report that came out this fall, female showrunners in 2019 were creating nearly one-third of broadcast TV shows. That’s improvement — not parity, but now here’s the really bad part — that same category was still 89 percent white in 2019. Overall, women are still underrepresented in writing and directing. As streaming dominates entertainment, we need those numbers to more closely reflect society. All that said, I want to leave you with the sense of hope that fills us all as 2020 – brutal 2020 – draws toward its close. Ahead of us at this Summit are three remarkable days of discussion, debate, performance, inspiration, mentorship and connection. It represents the best of who we are, and the versions of ourselves we aspire to be. Thanks our wonderful staff who put this together. Thanks to our many sponsors who made sure that in Covid year, the Summit would be bigger and better than before. Thanks to our incredible advisory board. And onward to the Power Women Summit, Inclusion 360!


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