The feeling was right at Tuesday’s ladies night, as the annual Gracie Awards celebrated its 42nd year at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. The Alliance for Women in Media event, hosted by “The Real’s” Jeannie Mai, honored women achievement and programming in news, television, radio, and film.
Golden Globe and three-time Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen was honored with a lifetime achievement award, presented by her television son on “Grey’s Anatomy” Jesse Williams and her real-life daughter Vivian Nixon.
Singer and songwriter Rachel Platten performed two of her empowering anthems, “Fight Song,” and “Stand By You,” before receiving the inaugural Gracies Impact Award.
The ceremony also included appearances by “This Is Us” stars Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz, who both presented and were awarded a Gracie.
Allen has worked as a writer, producer, director, choreographer, dancer and actress in film and on television, but the multi-hyphenate shared that she started her career being the only female in the room.
“Now things have changed, and I’m really happy about that” she told Variety. “I feel that I have created opportunities for other people. I was such a person looking for an opportunity. I’m still in the making and that’s what young people need — they need an opportunity.”
More than ever, she said, it’s important that women are strong.
“We have a real purpose and a real point of view that’s very different,” she said. “By nature, we are the ones that nurture, stand up, and fight.”
And with the stand-alone female superhero movie “Wonder Woman” shattering box office glass ceilings, Allen said the industry needs to continue evolving.
“It just says they have to open their thinking. We need more,” she said.
Rachel Bloom, who received a Gracie for her work on the Emmy-nominated “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” said she wants to give girls an opportunity to see themselves reflected in more than just “Sex and the City,” adding that for years, that was all women had.
“A lot of times, the way we talk about representation of women, we approach the idea of a women as if it’s something quite rare — as if it’s a paraplegic gymnast from Antarctica. The fact is, we’re half the world,” Bloom told Variety.
Bloom said the success of “Wonder Woman” proves to executives that people want to continue to see women lead films.
“It was funny, I thought there had already been a film like this. I didn’t realize until people were talking about how unprecedented it was, how big of a deal it was,” she said.
While Aline Brosh McKenna, executive producer of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, said she doesn’t think audiences even make a distinction between seeing movies with male versus female leads, she hopes it pushes execs to help get movies such as a Black Widow standalone made.
“It’s a lesson [studio execs] keep having to learn,” McKenna said to Variety. “It’s a surprise to them every time.”
The critical acclaim of “Wonder Woman,” isn’t shocking however, according to “This Is Us” star Susan Kelechi Watson.
“It shouldn’t be such a huge deal or such a surprise that we are able to compete and do like the rest,” she told Variety. “People are going to watch what’s good. It just says that we can compete in the same way. People want to hear our story.”
“Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins now holds the title for the best domestic opening for a female director for bringing the iconic heroine to the big screen.
“We just want to see what real women look like, and all their fullness and all their glory,” Watson said. “We’re capable, and we can do it all.”