Gender Equity Gets Top Billing As Women In Film Turns 50

Female voices shaped the Max Mara–sponsored evening benefit that introduced Yara Shahidi as the Face of the Future

Photography courtesy of GETTY IMAGES


Lily Tomlin, America Ferrera, Jane Fonda.


Women In Film celebrated a milestone marked by luminaries Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who were joined by a host of others, including Eva Longoria, Greta Lee, America Ferrera, Linda Yvette Chávez, Celine Song, and Yara Shahidi at the 2023 WIF Honors benefit supported by Max Mara and held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood on Thursday, November 30. The organization, which advocates for equity in all screen industries and advancing the careers of women, celebrated a half century of hard work and a continued push for change while raising funds for its educational and philanthropic programs and support for women, nonbinary, and trans people in the entertainment industry. Also on hand were Chloe Domont, Danai Gurira, Diane Warren, Fran Drescher, Frances Fisher, Janet Yang, Lili Reinhart, Janice Min, Angelique Jackson, Lake Bell, Talitha Watkins, Monica Levinson, Annie Gonzalez, Leonie Hanne, Lara Worthington, Bella Heathcote, Holland Roden, Sue Cameron, Stephanie Allain, Jon Hamm, Harry Hamlin, and the organization’s CEO, Kirsten Schaffer, and president, Amy Baer.

WIF’s stated goal, reiterated by Schaffer, has always been to become “so successful that we work ourselves out of existence.” And, she pointed out, “we don’t have time for another 50 years.” The evening included Fonda’s presentation of her namesake humanitarian award to Ferrera. “I have never been happier to say these words on stage: I love America,” said Fonda. Hamm presented Song and Lee with Crystal Awards for Advocacy, and Gonzalez also handed them to Longoria and Chávez. Longoria, speaking about directing, noted that when women get a job, studios say “we’re taking a chance on a woman.” But, she added, “when men get a job, they’re getting an opportunity.” Her answer: “I want an opportunity. You’re not rolling the dice on me. You’re not rolling the dice on anyone in this room.”

Shahidi accepted the WIF Max Mara Face of the Future Award from the Italian fashion house’s Maria Giulia Maramotti. “It really isn’t lost on me that I’m being honored by the very community that has created space for me to blossom and do the work that I so love,” Shahidi said. The actress, known for her roles in Black-ish and Grown-ish, has said that her education, which includes a degree in sociology from Harvard, has helped her speak confidently about advocating for herself and others. “I think that so many artists, particularly those of us that live on the margins and intersections of being a woman, as a black and brown person, as an immigrant, gender nonconforming folks, what we all know is that regardless of the form that our art takes, our participation in this industry is also contingent on accepting this other responsibility of showing up as our full selves and making space for others to show up as their full selves.” She also noted that she felt buoyed by the assembly of supporters. “Being here really gives me continued hope because this is a room united in a shared commitment. And that is really rare.”


Linda Yvette Chávez, Kirsten Schaffer, Eva Longoria.


Yara Shahidi, Greta Lee.


LEFT: Leonie Hanne, Lara Worthington, Bella Heathcote. RIGHT: Celine Song.


Lili Reinhart.


Fran Drescher.


LEFT: Lake Bell. RIGHT: Chloe Domont, Phoebe Dynevor.


Annie Gonzalez.


LEFT: Amy Baer. RIGHT: John Hamm.


Feature image: Yara Shahidi speaks onstage at the WIF.


December 8, 2023

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