If women make up 51 percent of all moviegoers, “Why don’t they want the money?” asked Meryl Streep at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards Tuesday night. She cited five movies in less than five years aimed at women, costing a fraction of the cost of studio tentpoles, that grossed $1.6 billion combined worldwide: “The Help,” “Bridesmaids,” “The Iron Lady,” “Mamma Mia!,” and ‘The Devil Wears Prada.” (And she starred in three of them. )
“The most common way you give up power is by not thinking you have any,” continued Streep, quoting Alice Walker.
With that much XX power in one room, it was a night to remember in a company town fueled by testosterone. And this year’s WIF theme “Power in Numbers” was reinforced by the length of the line to The Beverly Hilton ladies room.
Streep, who presented The Crystal Award for Excellence in Film to Oscar-nominated Viola Davis, was thanked by almost every grateful woman taking the stage. Each said if it weren’t for role model Streep, they might not be there at all.
“I used to ask my mom, ‘Did you ever want to be something else?’ asked Davis. “I’ve spent my entire life trying to be better than my mom…and all the other women in my life, whose dreams I saw end up in a graveyard. The higher purpose in my life isn’t to just be acclaimed, it’s to rise up and leave the world and the industry a little bit better.”
NBC Universal’s Chairman of Cable Entertainment and Studios’ Bonnie Hammer, who received The Lucy Award for Excellence in Television, remembered what it was like starting out in the industry in the early 1980s. She and her female colleagues “were breaking the rules as fast as we could make them. That atmosphere…of scrappers and renegades, many like me…of collaboration, creativeness and ingenuity, was the best preparation I could imagine for today’s ever-changing media landscape.”
Christina Applegate, another veteran working since the 80s, accepted WIF’s Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award® for her fight for early detection of breast cancer through her foundation, Right Action for Women.
“We’re not celebrating these extraordinary recipients because they are women,” said host Jenna Elfman. “We’re celebrating them because they are enormously creative and successful artists and executives who also happen to be women.”