THR's Lynne Segall, Viacom's Cyma Zarghami Honored By Girls Inc.

Lynne Segall - H 2015
Courtesy of Alex Berliner

“If you are given a chance, make the most of it,” said Segall at the fundraising luncheon.

Anne Sweeney, Julie Bowen and Ben Silverman were on hand Wednesday for Girls Inc.'s 20th annual luncheon, where the organization tips its hat to high-flying women in entertainment. Every year, the nonprofit recognizes a handful of female industry figures for their exceptional leadership and equally inspiring lives.

This year's Los Angeles fundraiser, held at the Beverly Hilton, honored THR and Billboard executive vp and group publisher Lynne Segall, Viacom kids and family group president Cyma Zarghami, actress and author Holly Robinson Peete, haute couture designer Gelila Assefa Puck and TFQ and The Girls’ Lounge founder and CEO Shelley Zalis.

Nearly $700,000 was raised thanks to the event, with more than $75,000 of that total donated during the lunch. Other guests included Nicole Avant, Rosanna Arquette, Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Wolfgang Puck.

Hosted by TV personality Shaun Robinson, the event celebrated the group’s impressive resumes and willingness to give back, in addition to the accomplishments of its Girls Inc. national scholars. Five of the young girls even braved the stage to talk about the challenges they've overcome in their lives before introducing the high-achieving women to the audience of more than 600 people that filled the ballroom.

The honorees took turns at the podium to offer guidance on how young, ambitious females can reach their full potential today. First up was Segall, who used her time in front of the room to share her own professional journey. Among her many pieces of advice: always capitalize on opportunities when presented with them — something she has done again and again throughout her career.

At only 16 years old, Segall scored a summer job working in the publicity and marketing department of a Boston publishing company (thanks to the persistence of her mom, an employee at the time). There, she was exposed to the world of magazine publishing. The experience not only afforded her the chance to learn the ins-and-outs of the business but also figure out if it was for her.

“I liked it, and it gave me context for what I could possibly do,” said Segall, the first person in her family to go to college. “I asked questions. I was curious. I had mentors who really were willing to help.” After she graduated from school, she packed her bags for Los Angeles — despite knowing zero people in town. But it was there that she worked her way up in sales, eventually landing a job at THR.

“If you are given a chance, make the most of it,” she continued. “Or, more importantly, ask for a chance to prove yourself.” Segall once asked her former boss, Tichi Wilkerson Kassel, if she could lead the sales department at THR. Segall saw a chance to shine after watching Kassell repeatedly fire her ad directors. “I said, “Just give me a chance… If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. You have nothing to lose,’” she said, adding: “And the rest is history.”

For Zarghami, who oversees CMT, Nickelodeon and TV Land, the advice was short and sweet. “I’m just one incredibly lucky person so I don’t have any advice to give except to keep doing what you’re doing," said the mom of three, directing her remarks to the young Girls Inc. women in the room. “I feel like we’re going to be calling you for advice very shortly.”