The 41st Annual New York Women In Film & Television Muse Awards were held virtually Dec. 17, featuring a diverse slate of honorees, including trailblazing directors, groundbreaking news reporters and notable actors. The women were selected as “muses” because of the inspiration they have provided in their various fields.
“Our honorees for the 41st Annual NYWIFT Muse Awards showcase numerous and astounding talents in various roles across many mediums of the entertainment industry,” NYWIFT Executive Director Cynthia Lopez said. “We are delighted to celebrate and recognize their revolutionary and influential accomplishments, and pay tribute to those who use their platform to advocate for a more inclusive, safe and equitable world.”
Typically held in-person in Manhattan, the event was started more than 40 years ago “to celebrate women back when women were not being recognized in the way they deserved,” Lopez said.
This year’s honorees included Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan, Tony winner Ali Stroker and Grammy winner Rashida Jones. All three actors were recognized not only for their diverse portfolios, but their work to open doors for women creators, homeless youth and people with disabilities. These women supported NYWIFT’s theme for the 2020 ceremony, “Art & Advocacy,” recognizing the role of the creative community in advancing positive social change.
Other muses included President Of Orion Pictures Alana Mayo and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual violence story and co-authored the best-selling book “She Said.”
Honoree Awkwafina discussed her upbringing in Queens and the importance of New York City to her art and life. “New York is a part of my history…it’s in every fiber of my being,” she said. “I grew up in a city where there were constantly things happening. There was art all around you being thrust upon you. There was always something. So to have, years later, been given the honor of shooting my show in the city where I’m from was beyond believable.”
A trailblazer for women in film and creators of color, Gina Prince-Bythewood won the Nancy Malone Award recognizing women directors who provide opportunities for others. The “Love & Basketball” and “The Old Guard” director spoke to the importance of on-screen representation. “My entire career has been just being in a sustained fight to center Black women in our stories in an authentic and truthful way,” Prince-Bythewood said. “And this is the first time that it hasn’t been a fight.”
“I hope, in a way, ‘women in film’ doesn’t have to exist, eventually. That we just get to be ‘people in film.’ But it’s going to be a long time before that happens,” Jones said. “But I hope that we find power with each other and for each other and we really do have a sense of community and greater good.”
Each speaker mentioned the importance of art in a trying year, when we need to be inspired more than ever. “The creative process right now, like so many other things, is one day at a time. One hour at a time, some days,” Brosnahan said. “It’s also been an important reminder to do what you can, how you can, with what you can. And to try to remember that that’s enough.”
“The women we honor today are making a difference with their creativity and wit, and they provide hope for our future,” Lopez said at the end of the ceremony. “Thank you for leading the way during this period of darkness and uncertainty.”