Women In Media Holiday Toast Shines Spotlight On Entertainment Trailblazers

by | Jan 3, 2024

The glitz and glamour of Hollywood converged with a celebration of empowerment at the Women In Media Holiday Toast 2023 fundraiser. The annual tribute brought together luminaries from across the entertainment industry to honor and recognize remarkable women who are leaving an indelible mark behind the scenes.

This year’s Holiday Toast was exceptional! The level of talent in the room was phenomenal. I was blown away by the love and warmth of the film community who made this event sparkle, “ says WiM Executive Director and founder Tema Staig.

The morning began with a burst of energy and festive cheer as attendees flocked to the champagne bar and mingled with honorees. The red carpets were a buzz with the media team from Gurus Magazine led by celebrity icon, Derek Warburton and Heather Duffy, president of her own eponymous PR firm. The Holiday Toast not only marked the commencement of the holiday season but also served as a testament to the achievements of women breaking barriers.

The highlight of the event was the recognition of four legendary women who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry. Natasha Foster-Owens, Senior Vice President of Production at HBO, Jen Underdahl, Vice President of VFX at Marvel Studios, Stephanie Filo, an editor with three 2023 Emmy nominations and Dianne Farrington, an award-winning cinematographer and camera operator with credits such as Moesha, Mad About You and The Nutty Professor were celebrated for their outstanding work.

The positive energy in the room at the Women in Media holiday toast moved me to tears and it was an extremely uplifting experience. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by my fellow honorees and their dynamic contributions to the entertainment industry,  says Honoree, Natasha Foster-Owens

Each honoree was toasted by a luminary who has been part of their professional history. They spoke from the heart about their honorees’ contributions to the entertainment industry. Hearts were warmed and more than a few tears of appreciation were shed.

Honoree, Stephanie Filo, says, “…It was so special to be able to share the day with so many inspirational women, and so delightful to celebrate the closing of the year alongside so many friends new and old! Women in Media is such an incredible organization that works tirelessly year-round to advocate for those both in front of and behind the camera, and their dedication to inclusivity is something that our entire industry should aim to follow!”

Toastmasters included Ada Chiaghana, Senior Vice President of Development at Higher Ground Productions, Dan DeLeeuw, Production VFX Supervisor and Director from Marvel, Nzinga Blake, Emmy and Gracie Award-winning Executive Producer, and Sandra Evers-Manly, Producer and CEO of Black Hollywood Entertainment Resource Center.

The celebration continued with a panel discussion where the honorees, joined by WiM’s Tema Staig, shared wisdom, leadership, and experiences. The audience was captivated by the insights into the professional journeys of these inspirational women, who are paving the way for greater female participation in the entertainment industry. From production and visual effects to editing and cinematography, the honorees excel in various facets of media, breaking stereotypes and inspiring the next generation of talent.

As the Toast came to a close, the room was filled with a sense of inspiration and camaraderie. The event not only celebrated the achievements of these remarkable women but also served as a reminder of the importance of fostering diversity and inclusivity in the entertainment industry.

Honoree, Jen Underdahl added, “Thank you, Tema and the Women In Media team for hosting such an insightful and thoroughly fun event. Your work is important for all of us in the film community and it was truly an honor to be counted amongst your ranks this year.”

“There are no words to adequately express the WIM’s Holiday Toast experience. An inspiring and enlightening event, charged by generous womanish support. The room was brilliant, with the muses of amazing, talented women. One is eternally grateful for the amazing catalyst to begin a new year!” said Honoree, Dianne Farrington.

About Women In Media

In 2010, Women In Media started as an informal group of like minded folks who wanted to network and hire more women. In 2017, WiM became a 501(c)(3) Charity ~ EIN# 82-1807178, and expanded services to include education and initiatives. The cornerstone program is the CAMERAderie Initiative, which has boosted the careers of women and gender non-conforming folks from every department in the crew with development, production, and post production of high production short films. Through mentorship, education, and long term support, with an eye towards sustainable jobs, WiM has helped propel the industry closer to the goal of equality for women and gender non-conforming folks working in every crew, every department, on every show. For more information on Women In Media, visit www.womennmedia.com

Image credit: Robin Marshall and Ashly Covington 

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