FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES – Yesterday, EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, presented its sixth annual Oscars week discussion, “How Women Change the World,” in Los Angeles to explore the representation of women in entertainment and the impact of storytelling in politics ahead of the 95th Academy Awards. The event and panel highlighted the women in Hollywood and politics who demonstrate what is possible when women are represented, break down barriers, and have a seat at the table. Panel and conversation participants included Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, actress, producer and author Garcelle Beauvais, EMILYs List board member, actress and host Yvette Nicole Brown, activist and entrepreneur Sophia Bush, EMILYs List President Laphonza Butler, Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell, Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis, and actress, singer and producer Amber Riley, and actor, comedian, executive producer, writer, and activist Lisa Ann Walter.
Eleni Kounalakis, Lieutenant Governor of California, opened the event by welcoming guests and framing the conversation. “We have a lot of ceiling breakers, but as Kamala Harris, our great Vice President often says about her own journey, ‘we may be the first but we cannot be the last.’ And so it isn’t just about the first, it is about a conveyor belt of talent continuing to make sure that we have woman after woman… and nobody is more important in this fight than EMILYs List,” said Eleni Kounalakis.
Yvette Nicole Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass then received a standing ovation as they took the stage. The one-on-one conversation called attention to why representation matters in politics, the fight for unhoused individuals in Los Angeles, supporting the younger generation and making sure the legacy will be carried on.
“When you encounter, especially girls and younger women and they look up to you, you know you have a responsibility that weighs heavy but I’m also happy to embrace that and show them what I am doing they can do as well,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. When speaking about the fight for unhoused individuals in Los Angeles, Bass said, “To me, it was really important to prove that people do not want to live like that because part of the stereotype is that people live like that because they want to…we’ve have had some really moving and emotional experiences with that…our challenge is we have to make sure we have enough hotel rooms because that is where we are putting people…and then moving them to permanent supportive housing.”
“If you don’t see it you can’t be it, so I think it’s important to see ourselves in every part of government, every part of entertainment, every part of corporate America so that young girls can see and go ‘I want to do that, I want to be that,’” said Yvette Nicole Brown.
Following the one-on-one conversation, EMILYs List President Laphonza Butler gave remarks about how women of the entertainment community can effect change in and out of political office in light of the overturned Roe v. Wade decision, and our rights being threatened. She spoke about this being that time in our nation’s history that women could affect tremendous change. “When women across this country have to check the latest legislative roles and rosters to figure out which law today governs their body, governs their future, this is the right time,” said Laphonza Butler.“When there are people who would engage in conversations…about attacking our teachers and professors and institutions of higher learning who dare simply to choose to teach our children the truth, I’m convinced that this is the right time…I am convinced that not only are we in the right place at the right time, but that we are doing the right thing. For the last 38 years, EMILYs List has worked to ensure that women had a seat at every table of government.”
Following Butler’s remarks, the panelists including Sophia Bush, Amber Riley, Lisa Ann Walter and Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell were welcomed to the stage and introduced by Garcelle Beauvais who served as the panel’s moderator.
“Women are natural leaders,” said Garcelle Beauvais. “If you feed the women, educate the women, the women will then pass it on and I think that’s what we do – we are natural leaders and women do change the world…when we show up, we show out!”
The panel touched on topics ranging from the importance of highlighting and fighting for unions, supporting school boards, protecting basic rights, protecting access to healthcare for women, and more.
“We are in a room of very progressive people. This is a room that is diverse and beautiful because of it. We are representing interests better here because we have a lot of opinions with seats at the table. But to be clear, if we are going to change the way elected office looks, ladies in this room that look like me and Lisa really got to get clear about confronting white supremacy,“ said Sophia Bush.“Because white supremacy is patriarchy and [it’s] the patriarchy that hurts us – lies to us [telling us] that it has something for us and it is the greatest lie on earth. It is why the white supremacist patriarchy is attacking trans people right now. Who is the most subjugated group in this country? Black trans women. Make no mistake that racism that veils itself as ‘good girls in white skin’ is dangerous to all of us and if we want to get serious about changing America for women, we have to confront, as women as a whole, our own internalized misogyny. ‘She is electable if you elect her’ but we white women have to get very clear that if we can not share groups like this, if all of our rooms don’t look like this one, we are failing and we are upholding what hurts us.”
[On growing up in Washington, DC] “It never occurred to me that we couldn’t get things done and that representation wasn’t happening like it was in the DC area all over this country,” said Lisa Ann Walter“That is what I expected when I went out in the world and boy, was I shocked. The stuff we fought for as a kid, the ERA that I marched for in DC as a kid, that we are still fighting for, unbelievably. There are things we can do whether we are in show business or not in show business.”
“I was so excited to be able to vote in the presidential election and I realized I had no idea when I got on that ballot, all the other names I was going to see,” said Amber Riley. “I was not taught that in high school. Let’s sit down and do the work and figure out who we are going to be voting for and it is work but it’s also our duty to do that.”
“Who is in your seat as Attorney General matters, and is becoming more relevant in this day and time as the Supreme Court is going backwards. Not just in the context of reproductive justice, but things related to climate, everything related to guns. These offices are so critical, and it’s difficult at moments for [Attorneys General] to really storytell, to talk about the importance of the work you do every day, to hold institutions accountable, to protect what should be our basic rights and privileges in this country. But pay attention.. [to who’s] in these seats,” said Andrea Joy Campbell.
The sixth annual EMILYs List pre-Oscars event host committee includes: Amber Tamblyn, Amy Landecker, Anjali Bhimani, Desiree Flores, Emmy Rossum, Gloria Calderón Kellett, Lisa Ann Walter, Lizzie Thompson, René Jones, Sara Benincasa, Tracy Brennan and WME.