Betty Power Lunches with America Ferrera, Julianna Margulies and Steven Colbert
BettyConfidential attends the New York Women in Film and Television Muse Awards.
-April Daniels Hussar
It was definitely a New York City event – a sea of little black dresses and killer high heels greeted me as I made my way in to the New York Women in Film and Television Muse Awards yesterday. America Ferrera, Julianna Margulies, comedy writer/producer Allison Silverman, and Lifetime CEO Andrea Wong were all honored as Muses, and the dynamic women behind Chicken Egg Pictures received the Lorren Arbus award, given to those who “take action and effect change.” All told it was a smart and moving event, full of moments of humor, inspiration, and yes, really great shoes.
America Ferrera (who looked far, far from Ugly Betty in a Mad-Men-esque little black dress and a pair of fierce stilettos sporting tell-tale red soles) had everyone in tears as she recounted the tale of her first muse, her 5th grade teacher Mrs. Rodriguez. It’s Mrs. Rodriguez whom America credits with instilling a belief in herself that sustains her to this day. When America auditioned for the lead role of Oliver in the 5th grade musical, Mrs. Rodriguez cast her as The Artful Dodger (and even better role, truth be told) and never questioned what a “little brown person” was thinking, trying to play a “white British orphan boy.” It was Mrs. Rodriguez’s “silent support,” said America, that meant so much to her – she didn’t try to make an example out of her student, but instead just colluded with 5th grade America Ferrera’s belief that she could try – and do – anything she wanted.
By the time we learned that Mrs Rodriguez died years ago of stomach cancer (and that a young America attended her funeral, and hoped her beloved teacher knew how much she meant to her), there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I could barely manage to finish my chocolate soufflé. (Barely I said. It was a really good chocolate soufflé.)
Julianna Margulies was also sniffling, but, as she explained, she was having a close relationship with Dayquil. Ah yes, the reality of New York City in the winter, which, as Margulies joked, is, especially for mommies, full of “petri dishes.” Margulies pointed out that, while women in film and TV have a ways to go, we do have the gorgeous Meryl Streep, age 60, on the cover of Vanity Fair AND playing a romantic lead this month. So we are “making progress.” A true NYC girl, Margulies also thanked the NYC tax bureau for bringing back incentives for productions to shoot in town. (No commute for this Good Wife.)
A high point of the event was a surprise appearance by Steven Colbert, who popped on stage to introduce honoree Allison Silverman. Silverman, who herself gave a hilarious and moving speech, served as first a writer on The Colbert Report and then as his executive producer until … oh, 73 days ago — “but who’s counting?” Colbert sniffled.
And finally, Andrea Wong would be one of those people who would be easy to hate (MIT grad, “looks great in a bikini,” incredibly successful TV exec), if she didn’t come across as such an intelligent and grateful person. We have her to thank for Dancing With the Stars, one of her many accomplishments while at ABC (we can also thank Jimmy Kimmel for being wrong – he confessed saying no one would ever want to watch a bunch of C and D-list stars ballroom dancing). Wong is also known as the only woman to have seduced Tim Gunn (she sealed the deal that brought Project Runway to Lifetime).
It may have been a man’s world at some point, but as these inspiring ladies exemplify, we’ve come a long way, baby.
April Daniels Hussar is BettyConfidential’s Deputy Editor.