Muse Awards highlight actresses

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New York Women in Film & Television's annual Muse Awards puts the spotlight on female leaders and visionaries. Three of this year's four honorees, actress Cynthia Nixon; advertising executive Linda Kaplan Thaler, founder of New York-based Kaplan Thaler Group; and Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids & Family Group, share their thoughts on success in work and in life.

Cynthia Nixon

"There's a lot that gets me out of bed in the morning -- my kids, my work, New York City, civil rights. My guiding principle for success in life is to work hard.

"I was raised to be very humble, which I think is very important, but you can veer too far and not value yourself. It's important to have an appropriate sense of self -- not be too humble or too insecure but, at the same time, not be too inflated and have too much of a sense of entitlement. My mother did raise me to not have a swelled head, which is good; I was a child actor, and sometimes I think you can get very full of yourself -- and as an actor in general. But I feel like I do have to fight to think, 'Oh, I should go after that part,' 'I could get that part' or 'I shouldn't let that person treat me that way.' I shouldn't bow down if I'm getting a certain kind of treatment. I should say, 'Hmm, that's not right. I'm going to stand up.' "

Linda Kaplan Thaler

"The biggest turning point in my life was when I had breast cancer. I was 39. I became really fearless after that. I didn't care about failing or about speaking my mind. Even now when something happens, as long as it's not a health-related thing, I feel bad for about 10 seconds and then I go, 'OK, we move on.' That's our line here at the agency.

"Don't have a five- or 10-year plan. Only solve the problems you have right now. Nothing I've ever achieved has been because I've been pondering the future or what success might come. It's simply about living and enjoying the moment.

"The most powerful four-letter word that I know is 'nice.' It's a secret sauce to people's success. It's the way to be successful and have a happy life.

"I want to be remembered as a good mother. Jacqueline Kennedy once said, 'If you don't succeed bringing up your kids, what have you really accomplished?' We're gearing up the next act of the human race, and we'd better get that right or nothing else counts."

Cyma Zarghami

"Complacency is the killer of all success. 'We never stand still' is my main philosophy. We've been up against a lot of challenges (as a company), and every one has been different. Our competitors change every now and again. The biggest challenge is probably rallying an entire organization to move to a new place, (such as with) the digital revolution. It needs to change all the time, but it needs to stay true to its DNA. That has been my mission -- to marry the change to what needs to stay true to the original.

"If I had to define myself in one word, it would be 'driven.' I don't like it because I try so hard not appear that way. It's something that has come to me over time.

"I'm most passionate about my children and keeping the business moving forward any which way I can, both creatively and from a management and business point of view. I wake up every day thinking, 'How are we going to win today?' "

Actress Laura Linney is also receiving a Muse Award for her body of work, which encompasses stage, film and television roles. She was most recently honored with an Emmy Award for her role as Abigail Adams in the HBO miniseries "John Adams."

Compiled by Noela Hueso
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