This year’s Women in Media Holiday Toast was an especially memorable event, with a surprise tribute to kick off the celebration. California Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo made a very special guest appearance to present the Founder and Executive Director of Women in Media, Tema Staig, with a California Legislature Assembly certificate. Making her way to the microphone, Carrillo spoke warmly as she addressed Staig and the crowd in attendance.
“On behalf of the 12th Assembly District,” said Carrillo, “It is my honor to recognize Tema Staig as the Founder and Executive Director of Women In Media for her countless hours of dedication towards promoting parity and gender balance within the film and entertainment industry. She has been instrumental in providing resources necessary for the community to achieve economic empowerment and reach their fullest potential.”
Carrillo’s proclamation acknowledged Staig’s incredible work throughout her career. As many now recognize, it takes passionate individuals like Staig who are willing to go above and beyond when it comes to advocating for gender equality to move society forward toward a more equitable future.
The festive Holiday Toast tribute and fundraiser was one to remember, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Staig. The event was headlined by Academy Award Winning songwriter/composer Diane Warren, who demonstrated her incredible talent with her current hit “Applause” on guitar. Sharon Farber accompanied her on piano and 11-year-old powerhouse vocalist Eden Kontesz. This trio captivated their audience with their unique collaboration and had them swaying along in no time.
At the Women in Media event hosted at the iconic Television City, five honorees were celebrated for their excellence and hard work in the world of media: Executive Producer/Writer/Director Deborah Pratt (Quantum Leap); Oscar-winning Costume Designer Deborah L. Scott (Avatar, Way of the Water, E.T., Titanic); Supervising Sound Editor Becky Sullivan (The Woman King); Cinematographer/Camera Operator Michelle Crenshaw (The Ranch); and legendary songwriter and composer, Diane Warren.
(Women In Media’s Annual Holiday Toast 2022)
In honor of these incredible women, the event was hosted with generous support from Zach Sokoloff, Senior Vice President of Hackman Capital Partners. The special occasion was made all the more memorable with a mimosa-fueled celebration that recognized and celebrated each recipient’s accomplishments and contributions to their respective fields. As each honoree’s achievements were acknowledged, they served as an inspiring reminder that great things can be achieved by anyone passionate and dedicated to their craft.
During WiM’s Annual Holiday Toast honoring entertainment industry pioneers, a packed house raised their glasses in honor of each honoree, who were introduced by colleagues familiar with their illustrious careers. Toastmasters included Kimberly Jimenez (Senior Vice President of Post Production Services at Sony Entertainment), Emmy-winning cinematographer Johnny Simmons ASC (credits including Family Reunion and iCarly), Romell Foster-Owens (Producer/Director/Writer and President of Jowharah Films) and award-winning composer Sharon Farber (Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power). After the toasts, attendees were enthralled as Tema Staig moderated a Q&A session where the honorees shared anecdotes from their storied experiences and imparted invaluable advice to inspire others to make an impact in the industry. The day was filled with lots of laughter and inspiring moments that will surely be remembered for years.
The winter wonderland stage provided a truly mesmerizing atmosphere for the distinguished guests. Media partner Gurus Magazine, owned and operated by the renowned celebrity stylist and magazine entrepreneur, Derek Warburton, organized a spectacular red-carpet event with all eyes on it. Warburton was visibly elated to be there, remarking about the event’s attendees: “It was an absolute honor to be in a room filled with so many passionate women dedicated to achieving their goals and working toward equality.” All who attended the gathering were treated to an unforgettable day full of networking, conversations, and inspiration.
According to Becky Sullivan, who is also one of the honorees of the Women In Media Annual Holiday Toast, “I am honored to be chosen for this year’s toast to filmmakers. Women In Media’s mission to bring gender balance to the workplace is a much-needed commission. I’m here for it!”
Four stylish celebrities and rising stars on the red carpet made an impressive showing. Amanza Smith – star of Netflix’s Selling Sunset – Jai Rodriguez from Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Chaley Rose ( Nashville) and Kearran Giovanni from The Resident all pulled out all the stops delivering showstopping looks.
Meanwhile, Quantum Leap cast members Raymond Lee, Mason Alexander Park, Caitlin Bassett, and Narisa Lee were in attendance to support Deborah Pratt as she was honored for her achievements. Furthermore, Pretty Little Liars’ Troian Bellisario was present to honor her mother – honoree Deborah Pratt. All these familiar faces helped make this event one to remember as the glitzy style statements they presented melded with their unique flair.
Queer Eye For The Straight Guy star Jai Rodriguez shared his excitement during a red-carpet interview with Gurus Magazine’s Heather Duffy. He says, “Often, people who blaze a trail rarely reap the benefits of the trail they have blazed.” He continues by saying, “I think it’s really important to honor those who paved the way whether you are a songwriter, an actor, or a storyteller in any medium, and this day is going to be about listening and learning from somebody who has lived the experience.”
Diane Warren, one of the honorees, shared, “I am honored to be recognized by Women in Media. I am a strong advocate for women, and this organization has been instrumental in recognizing women’s important contributions to the industry. And I’d like to give some applause to my fellow honorees.”
(WiM Honoree Diane Warren with Gurus Magazine Founder and Owner, Derek Warburton on the red carpet, WiM Holiday Toast 2022)
Gurus Magazine Founder and Owner Derek Warburton shared how honored he is to be Women In Media’s media sponsor, saying, “I am so thrilled to support an organization that supports women of all kinds. When we first had the call, I was so shocked. Gurus Magazine is so young – we started a year ago with our beloved Anne Heche on a whim, on an idea. And the fact that we are here today is an amazing moment.” He continues, “I just wanted to celebrate the fact that this is a group of women who fight for each other. This organization fights for women and gets them in the door – not just ciswomen, but transwomen and all different types of women, and I celebrate that. Gurus Magazine believes in truth, passion, and authenticity, and that’s how I want to live my life. Celebration is just as important as the fight; look at how far we’ve come. Just being here is such a pleasure and honor.”
Women In Media is a pioneering organization that advocates for gender balance in the film and entertainment industries. The organization works to empower filmmakers, both above and below the line, through networking, professional development programs, and a wide array of advocacy initiatives. This includes connecting members with industry professionals at exclusive events and developing campaigns to push for wider representation of women in all aspects of the industry. Through these efforts, the organization strives to create an inclusive filming environment that values the contributions of female creatives and encourages their professional growth—ultimately leading to fairer opportunities within the entertainment landscape.
For more about Women In Media, visit their website at https://womennmedia.com.
Photo Credits: Ashly Covington
By: Ley Calisang