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As Melora Hardin, Emmy-nominated actress and 2019 Gracies award presenter, held a bubblegum pink clutch inscribed “The future is female,” which was gifted to her by The Bold Type creator Sarah Watson, she reflected on how her character Jacqueline Carlyle is a “new kind of woman in power” to The Hollywood Reporter.
“She is multidimensional, and she’s juggling all the balls in the air with grace. She’s kind to her young employees.” Hardin told THR about the fictional editor-in-chief of the show’s Scarlet magazine — who was inspired by Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and executive producer Joanna Coles.“She challenges them and maybe sometimes in a way that is a little intimidating, but she’s never mean and she’s not backstabbing,” Hardin added. “It’s really important for women of all ages to see women of power represented that way. If you don’t see a mirror of something that you want to aspire to, then it’s a little bit bleak out there.”
For women in attendance at The Alliance for Women in Media’s 2019 Gracies Gala (named after Gracie Allen), the entertainment industry looked a little less “bleak” for female representation. This organization that supports women in all forms of media has been around since the ‘50s, but has acquired a newfound importance since modern women’s initiatives like #MeToo and Time’s Up.
“Women always knew it was important, but now everyone else does, too, and I think that that’s what Time’s Up has done: it’s made stuff that we were always talking about suddenly in the mainstream conversation,” Golden Globe-winning actress Rachel Bloom said before receiving her Gracie award. “This provides a way for women to continue to get together and tell their stories.”
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel was packed with women from various facets of media, including television, radio, on-camera and behind-the-scenes, who are currently producing a diversity of female narratives in their fields.
“We’re looking at solution-oriented people. We’re looking at women who are breaking down barriers, but we’re also coming together and we’re able to be in a not competitive, not comparative environment for once and just celebrate and maybe breathe, so it’s a nice mixture of dynamics,” Disney Channel actress Alyson Stoner and veteran Gracie attendee told THR about the awards.
Superstore actress Lauren Ash hosted the evening that honored 67 women and men in media with Gracies. Ash joked about her, Christina Hendricks and Retta “taking their friendship to the next level” and getting matching bracelets that say “Best bitches forever.”
“What I’m saying is, I would like to be your best friend, and I felt like the best way to approach it would be by asking you in public at an event that promotes female empowerment in front of hundreds of people so that you feel deeply pressured to say yes,” Ash said on stage.
Ash brought a presence to the stage that echoed her no-nonsense character, Dina, from Superstore. Dina is another prime example of a type of female character audiences have not seen often on screen, Ash told THR.
“I get a lot of feedback on social media from people who watch the show that love Dina: how confident she is, that she’s somebody who really believes that she is probably the hottest specimen on the planet. Also she was pregnant on the show, and there’s been a lot of critical acclaim about showing a woman who is pregnant and is still sexual, someone who is a woman and is a lady and has no qualms about the fact that she wants to get railed by an entire rugby team and possibly some coaches,” Ash quipped. “I think that’s an important thing, being able to see women as multifaceted beings that have many layers to them.”
Sheryl Crow performed some of her hits at the event. The audience favorite was when the country star made a parody of the bridge of her song, “Strong Enough,” asking if a man was “strong enough to not ask about her period” and “strong enough to not get mad at me when I make more money than you.”
Ash later added that she was “strong enough” to be Crow’s best friend, too, and invited the singer to join Hendricks and Retta in getting matching friendship bracelets.
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