Female Leadership in the Media Industry

Claudia Chan

By Ka Yee Chan

On Tuesday, April 1, SAG Foundation and the New School of Drama featured four female leaders in the media industry. The panel took place at the John L. Tishman Auditorium at the University Center. It was a discussion, which allowed the women to share their stories and experiences that helped them become the leaders they are today. The female leaders included Claudia Chan, Debra Zimmerman, Pat Mitchell and Beth Janson.

Claudia Chan is the founder of SHE Global Media Inc. as well as the moderator of the panel. She interviewed more than 200 remarkable women on ClaudiaChan.com. As she attended nine years of all-women’s schools, she noticed the importance of positively portraying women leaders in the industry. In response, she launched SHE Global Media in 2012, “a purposeful women’s platform that empowers women to live their most optimal personal and professional lives so they can change the world, through ongoing media and educational initiatives.”

Debra Zimmerman, the Executive Director of Women Make Movies. It is a non-profit New York based film organization that supports women filmmakers. Women Make Movies is an international recognized Production Assistance Program and has been nominated, and won, Academy Awards for the last eight years. It has been around for forty years. It gets films made from the start of a concept to finish. With no idea what she was going to do, Zimmerman was mentored by her Women Studies’ professor and film professor in college. She found she was passionate about advancing women, and working with women and filming.

Pat Mitchell, the President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media, which is formally The Museum of Television & Radio. The Paley Center is a major convener for media leaders and enthusiasts. Many twists and unexpected issues had come along her way here. She said she was from the dark ages. She grew up in a little town in South Georgia. The only careers were teachers and nurses. Her mentor, who is her eighth grade English teacher, informed her that there are role models other than the ones she was seeing and told her to apply for a scholarship. She got a teaching scholarship and started teaching at the University of Georgia, thinking that would be her career. She went through ups and downs, employed, unemployed, marriage, divorce and bankruptcy. She moved out of the South to find more opportunities. Desperate and afraid, as a single mother, she then became very successful and effective.

Beth Janson is the Executive Director of Tribeca Film Institute. Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff. Its purpose is to empower filmmakers and media artists with funding and other resources. It as well provides educational programming to help young people to gain skills, and be able to apply their creativities into their projects. Janson joined the organization in 2004. She launched a new initiative, which is called Tribeca All Access. It soon became an important forum for U.S. based filmmakers to promote their projects.

The stories and experiences of the four female leaders had opened the eyes of the audience, and as well connected to the audiences, which were mostly females and actresses. They are inspiring and motivating. Without hesitation, they shared their ups and downs. They emphasized that it is important to be generous, and not to be afraid to share your information with others, because you would never know where that will take you. Their hard work, advanced visions, and perseverance were effective in expanding the opportunities for women in the society. Special thanks to Screen Actors Guild Foundation/ SAG Foundation for holding the event. For more information, please visit: http://sagfoundation.org.

Debra Zimmerman and Pat Mitchell

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