THR Women in Entertainment Attendees Answer: What Makes a Power Leader? (Video)

Viola Davis Bethenny Frankel Anne Sweeney - H 2011
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Viola Davis Bethenny Frankel Anne Sweeney - H 2011

Viola Davis, Bethenny Frankel and Anne Sweeney are among the Hollywood industry players doling out advice for up-and-comers at the annual breakfast celebration.

The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute to 100 of Hollywood’s most powerful females with its 20th annual Women in Entertainment breakfast celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Among those feted at the event were three-time list topper Anne Sweeney, reality star-turned-mogul Bethenny Frankel, Dreamworks chairman and CEO Stacey Snider, and Jane Fonda, who accepted the coveted Sherry Lansing Leadership Award.

So what do all these leading ladies have in common? Aside from sharing the pages of this week’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine, each woman undoubtedly shares leadership qualities with her Power 100 sisters.

THR spoke with a few of this year’s honorees – and their supporters – to find out what traits make a female power player, and how aspiring industry hopefuls can one day step into their shoes.

Anne Sweeney

Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman and Disney/ABC Television Group President

Must-Have Qualities of a Power Leader: I think the must have power qualities for a female or male power leader are really the ability to focus, to work hard, to be extremely goal oriented, and to not let the noise and the nonsense interfere with your mission -- what you really feel you want to do with your career and your life.

Advice to Hopefuls: Don’t do it unless you love it. It just isn’t worth the time. And once you figure out what you love, just commit to it and go a million miles an hour.

PHOTOS: The Scene at THR's 2011 Women in Entertainment Power 100 Breakfast

Tate Taylor
Director of The Help   

Must-Have Qualities: Humility, Truth and giving. To be giving.

Role Model: Stacey Snider -- the woman who absolutely took a huge chance on me, and it seems to be paying off a little bit.

Jane Fonda
Actress, Activist

Must-Have Qualities: Intelligence, compassion, strategy, kindness [and] knowing a good story.

Role Model: Sherry Lansing is a role model. I worked with her in the late 70s and I really admire her. I think Katharine Hepburn is the woman I learned the most from.

VIDEOS: THR's 2011 Women in Entertainment Breakfast Highlights

Nancy Grace
HLN Host and Former DWTS Contestant   

Must-Have Qualities: I would say the single most important one is staying true to yourself and sticking to your guns regardless of what your detractors say about you.

Role Model: There are so many women that I look up to in the industry, it would be very, very difficult to name all of them. But the woman I look up to the most would be my mother, who was a working mom and raised all of us in lean times.

Advice: I think the most important thing I took from my mother is her work ethic, which is basically, there may be others who are more powerful, more cunning and more beautiful than you, but you can out work them. You can work harder. Believe in yourself and outwork everybody else and you’ll make it.

VIDEO: Jane Fonda, THR's Sherry Lansing Leadership Award Recipient, on Her Role Models

Kathryn Stockett
Author of The Help

Must-Have Quality: Tenacity.

Role Model: Not really in the business, but I’m a huge fan of Condoleeza Rice because she grew up in Birmingham and she overcame so much more than I had to growing up.

Advice: Don’t give up. Keep trying. I received 60 rejections from agents on The Help, and you know, number 61 was the letter that finally was my winner. If I had given up at 45 or 50 I never would have been here.

VIDEO: Anne Sweeney Reveals Top Qualities of a 'Power Leader'; Reacts to her Third Women in Entertainment Honor

Bethenny Frankel
Reality Star, Author and Mogul

Must-Have Qualities: Don’t ever assume anyone is smarter than you. Men, sometimes, in particular. Be able to understand the power of women and that the unimaginable is possible. I built my entire business from not underestimating women and realizing that women make the decisions in the household and have the buying power and not underestimating women and not dumbing it down.

Role Model: I look at people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, ironically they’re men, and Arianna Huffington because they were game changers, they take chances, they’re ballsy. I’ve always kind of stayed in my own lane and not looked left or right, just decided what was right for me and how I’m gonna do it.

Advice: Put blinders on. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, worry about yourself.

COMPLETE LIST: 2011 Women in Entertainment Power 100

Sherry Lansing
Former Actress, Paramount Pictures CEO

Must-Have Qualities: Passion. You must have passion, you must care desperately about what you do, you must be willing to take risks and you also must do a lot of hard work. I don’t think there are any shortcuts, and I think that you really have to spend the time and often make sacrifices, often give up certain things to do the work.

Role Model: Jane Fonda was one of my biggest role models in life ,which is why it’s so ironic and such a pleasure to be giving her this award. I really can’t believe it’s happening. She was someone I admired and someone who intimidated me, she doesn’t anymore, but someone I aspired to be. I admired her authenticity, I admired her honesty, I admired her courage, and I admired the fact that she wasn’t afraid to take a stand.

Advice: My biggest advice is to please enjoy the process of what you’re doing. My biggest advice is to enjoy the journey along the way. I think too many people set an end goal, and then all they want is to achieve that end goal, and they don’t enjoy the steps along the way, and it’s really the steps along the way that are your life.

Kathy Griffin

Comedian, Reality Star

Must-Have Qualities: I think you should be fearless, you should be outspoken and you should, stay focused and do your job. Because it’s easy to get bogged down in the fact that men still make 70 cents on the dollar etc. and I’m in a very male driven field obviously but I think when you just sort of stay in your lane, do your job, that’s really how you get beyond that and have fun.

Advice: Love it. Go for it if you really, really love it. So I always say to like, if I meet young actresses or comedians and they say, ‘I just really want to be on TV, how do I do it?’ I say ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no, you have to LOVE comedy. You have to be willing to bomb everywhere, you have to be willing to get in trouble.' And I would say years of me getting in trouble has finally paid off on a day like today.

STORY: 11 Women to Watch for Next Year's Power 100 List

Jennifer Love Hewitt:

Must-Have Qualities: Definitely confidence, I would say the, gosh I don't know, I would say a role model would be a good quality, sense of humor. I think in order to be powerful you definitely have to have a sense of humor because that’s life. Drive and ambition.

Role Models: My mom, my grandma, Audrey Hepburn, definitely. I think Nancy Dubuc, who is being honored today, who is the head of Lifetime and my new boss, really embodies that. She’s just amazing. From her ideas of how she wants to change the world sort of one series at a time on her network, and just the way that she is in meetings with people, and how beautiful she is, and she’s very powerful and really great. Jessica Lange, I think also has so many of those qualities. She’s just a goddess. There’s way too many of them here in our town, we’re very lucky.

Advice: Stick with it. Keep trying, don’t give up. And be confident no matter what they say.

VIDEO: 'The Help's Viola Davis, Tate Taylor, Kathryn Stockett Reveal Awards Season Hopes

Viola Davis

Must-Have Qualities: Confidence. I think generosity and strong character.

Role Models: So many. Meryl Streep has been a big role model, Cicely Tyson has been a great role model, and not just because of their talent, either. I mean, Meryl Streep is a woman who is, even when the cameras are off, who she is as a human being is just as magnificent as her talent. It’s really made a huge impression on me.

Advice: I guess my biggest advice would be to embrace who you are. I think that’s all you have at the end of the day. I think sometimes people try to be someone they’re not.

Octavia Spencer


Advice: First and foremost, you have to train hard. Whatever it is you do, you have to be the best at what you do so get into a good class, but always believe in yourself. Always believe in yourself, and there are going to be times when you don’t, but train hard.