9 Things THR's Women in Entertainment Breakfast Taught Us About Life
Based on these words of wisdom from Sarah Silverman, Melissa Rivers and Sherry Lansing, breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day.
The Hollywood Reporter's annual Women in Entertainment breakfast is by far one of our favorite "work" events of the year (a bold statement, considering our organization is known for throwing some of the most badass parties in the land). But this breakfast — timed to coincide with the release of THR's Women in Entertainment Power 100 list — isn't just any morning meal, but rather a celebration featuring a room full of awe-inspiring women who instill enough wisdom to make any lucky reveler feel like they, too, can truly take over the world one day — assuming that's what they want to do, of course.
At last year's breakfast, we learned that back in the '80s, Oprah and Maria Shriver became friends while working on the local Baltimore news and used to eat French fries while complaining about boys after work. Our takeaway? Patience, grasshopper. Even Oprah wasn't always Oprah (and Maria Shriver dealt with crappy dates once — and, uh, then again later, too).
So this year's breakfast, held on Dec. 10 at Milk Studios in Hollywood, was sans the big O. But luckily we had Angelina Jolie, Shonda Rhimes and Michelle Obama (via video feed, but still) to pick up the #girlboss slack and make us hopeful that a promising future awaits.
Below, nine life lessons we learned at THR's Women in Entertainment breakfast that we hope to impart on a room full of ladies ourselves one day when we've taken over the world (because, yes, that is absolutely what we want to do).
1. Life is choices.
While giving the morning's opening remarks, our fearless leader Janice Min asserted that life is in fact a series of choices, with women choosing their path day in and day out. The fact that our lives really are ours to dictate is nice to remember whenever we find ourselves feeling a little caged in.
2. Getting older is a good thing.
Sure, we might be doubling (ok, tripling) up on the eye cream now that we've hit 30. But minus the inevitable crows feet to come, there is so much to look forward to as we age (confidence, self-assuredness and hopefully men in proper-fitting suits included). And during her very heartfelt introduction to Melissa Rivers, comedian Sarah Silverman told the room that Joan Rivers said she didn't actually feel like she found her comedic voice until she was 70. Which means that there are apparently some very good things to come for other creatives who frequently wish they could master their craft ASAP.
3. Beauty is ours to decide.
Silverman also told a very funny story about being inside Joan Rivers' closet, where she happened upon a yarn and faux fur coat that she called "ugly." "It's not ugly!" Joan snapped back. "It's beautiful. It's Topshop." And as Silverman's "punishment" for dissing said coat, she was made to take it home as a parting gift. There were mints and balled up Kleenex in the pockets. And now, knowing its former owner, Silverman says it is indeed the most beautiful coat she's ever seen. Your call on how you view the dirty, Kleenex-filled, fast-fashion pieces in your life. But something tells us things are better when we appreciate the untraditionally pretty in life, even when it's a stretch.
4. Tell people how you feel.
"Tell people that you respect, that are good at their jobs and are awesome ... tell them!" said Melissa Rivers while discussing her late mother's legacy. Agreed.
5. Keep going.
Another Melissa Rivers nugget that comes from a question posed by her 14-year-old son after his grandmothers' death: "Mom, will I ever be happy again?" Her answer was, of course, yes. Why? Because you keep going, no matter what. You just do.
6. Be brave.
"My mother was brave," Rivers said. "She took risks. My mother was fearless. She stood tall and walked through her fears." Clearly, the elder Rivers' valor paid off in spades — giving us a nice role model for the times we doubt ourselves and think we can't recover from a misstep. We can and we will, as long as we're brave (revert to life lesson #5).
7. When you find a formula that works, stick to it.
Sherry Lansing — the first woman to head a movie studio when she became the president of 20th Century Fox in 1980 — noticed something when she took to the stage to introduce Angelina Jolie. She happened to be wearing the same red blazer that she could be seen wearing 30 years prior in a tribute video that played for the room. "If you find something that works," laughed Lansing, who is the namesake behind the event's leadership award, "You wear it again." True that — in every regard. Then again, we'll add our own wisdom to this one: If the same formula yields the same undesirable results, make a change stat.
8. Be good to yourself.
The hits just keep on coming at this breakfast. And another moment of morning awe is each year's presentation of full-ride scholarships to two unsuspecting participants in THR's Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program. During a video montage prior to the awarding of said scholarships, a disadvantaged high school senior (and aspiring pediatric doctor) named Jai — the mentee of music exec Karen Kwak — got profound without trying: "If you bring yourself up you bring everyone up around you." So do what you have to do to be your best self (we think Oprah said that at our last breakfast) — whether that's giving yourself an education, making time for a spa day or asking for what you want at work. When you're truly your own best friend, the world becomes a very good place.
9. How we use our luck is up to us.
Just after her mentee, Melissa, accepted her full-ride scholarship to Loyola Marymount University and the room wiped their eyes, Disney-ABC television president Janice Marinelli made a really good point, especially in an industry and town rife with nepotism: "The [mentorship] program opens doors but at the end of the day [the mentees] walk through it." Yes, we all get lucky breaks every so often. Use them wisely or don't.