International Womens Impact Report
Nigeria, Founder, EbonyLife
Abudu used her star-making springboard as the face of daytime talkie “Moments With Mo” to launch the EbonyLife empire, with a film production unit and upscale lifestyle TV network; she’s been dubbed the Oprah of Africa. “As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I’ve had to be strong, focused and relentless — and work twice as hard as the men around me,” she says. Determined to push for gender parity in the Nigerian biz, she estimates that nearly 80% of “key positions” at EbonyLife are filled by women. This year she’ll unveil a mentoring scheme to support the next generation of young women in film and broadcasting.
U.K., Singer, songwriter
Adele just might be the industry’s most pervasive music artist. In the U.S., her last release, “25,” was the best-selling album of 2015 and 2016; globally it moved 20 million units globally. And the tour that accompanied 25 grossed $256 million. Although outspoken behind a mic, she understands what it’s like being dismissed by men in business meetings. “It’s like, ‘Well, I’m the f–ing artist,’” she recalled to Rolling Stone. “‘Don’t f–ing talk down to me!’”
United Arab Emirates, CEO, Media Zone Authority
Al Mheiri leads Abu Dhabi’s Twofour54 Media Zone Authority, named after the city’s geographic coordinates, which has attracted Hollywood shoots including “Furious 7” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” built a bridgehead with Bollywood productions, and lured hundreds of companies to set up shop such as CNN and Apple. In her role as intermediary between the government and the male-dominated media sector, and as key executor of the emirate’s 2030 Economic Vision diversification strategy, Al Mheiri stands as testimony to the effectiveness of the UAE’s gender equality effort.
Italy, Director, RAI Fiction
Andreatta is instrumental to greenlighting roughly 70% of Italy’s TV series as head of drama at pubcaster RAI. The first female to reach such a prominent management position in Italy’s male-dominated TV industry, she is using her perch to change how women are portrayed. “In Italian TV lead characters have always been male,” she said at a recent Rome conference, noting that until recently the few women who were represented were “either as mothers or love interests.” That’s changing, thanks to projects including the RAI/HBO collaboration “My Brilliant Friend,” based on a bestselling Elena Ferrante novel about female friendship.
Italy, Actress, director
The actress and director has become one of the most vocal activists against sexual harassment in the entertainment industry since she went on the record against Harvey Weinstein last October. Subject to insults in the Italian press, Argento continues to mobilize for the cause: She led a Rome march in January in support of the #MeToo movement and has been campaigning for Italian ← legislation to curb and prevent violence against women, calling for the removal of the country’s current six-month statute of limitations on denouncing these kinds of crimes.
Germany, Managing director, Studiocanal TV
During her time as boss of Munich-based Tandem, Bauer was a rare beast — an exec working in Continental Europe producing English-language series that sold worldwide, including Emmy winner “The Pillars of the Earth.” After Studiocanal bought Tandem in 2011, Bauer was given the responsibility of heading up the Paris-based company’s scripted activity in the U.S., as well as looking after its European co-productions and third-party acquisitions. Recent coups include ABC’s acquisition of procedural “Take Two,” and Netflix’s ordering of Harlan Coben series “Safe.” “All of these SVOD platforms are giving us the opportunity to get more eyeballs onto our series,” Bauer recently told Variety. “That means you’ve got to think in a global way.”
U.K., Principal, EON Prods.
Everybody knows Broccoli as the steward of the James Bond franchise, but another side of the U.S.-born, London-based producer continues to emerge in film and theater projects. Her exquisitely made Gloria Grahame biopic “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” was BAFTA-nominated. “It celebrates life and love and life and death and family,” she says. “And caring for someone no matter what.” She’s helping to produce “Ear for Eye,” a new play to be staged this fall at London’s radical Royal Court Theater. Broccoli was among British industry leaders backing new guidelines against sexism and harassment in the biz.
Australia/New Zealand, Film/TV director
The Oscar-winning screenwriter for “The Piano” was also a rare female directing nominee (the second ever) for that 1993 film and is prized for bringing a distinctly female point of view to her work. Like many film directors she has transferred her allegiance to TV work, and has earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her work on Sundance TV’s “The Top of the Lake,” the most recent installment starring her daughter, Alice Englert, and Nicole Kidman. “There are dramas that go on in every woman’s life that not many people know about,” she told Variety at Cannes.
Australia, Head of Production, Screen Australia
Oodles of relevant experience and a husky, straight-talking personality make Caplan one of the international film industry’s most-respected executives. After a career largely spent in the U.K., Caplan moved Down Under to head production at Screen Australia, the federal body responsible for regulation and funding. Originally trained as a lawyer, Caplan took with her a track record in the private sector at Icon, Momentum, PolyGram, and Universal, and in the public sector, as former head of the U.K. Film Council’s Premier Fund. She appears to be thriving in what is both a development and production finance role.
U.S./Venezuela, CEO, Cisneros
Born in Caracas and schooled in the U.S., Cisneros became CEO of the family-owned business five years ago. She oversees its media unit, which manages Venevision, Venezuela’s leading TV network, and established two new divisions, interactive and real estate, to further the 89-year-old global enterprise. Cisneros also serves as president of the Cisneros Foundation, dedicated to improving access to education in Latin America and compares the current push for gender equality to the civil-rights movement circa Rosa Parks. “For it to advance, men have to be the greatest advocates of the cause/movement,” she says.
Prized for her ability to make the most of her screen time — she won an Oscar for eight minutes in 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love” — Dench went on to transform the Bond franchise’s traditionally male role of M into a noteworthy character of her own. Part of Britain’s acting royalty, the mischievous octogenarian recently picked up a Golden Globe nom for her starring role in “Victoria & Abdul” and next toplines as KGB spy Joan Stanley in Trevor Nunn’s “Red Joan.”
France, CEO, Gaumont
Dumas took over Gaumont, the world’s oldest film studio, from her father in 2004 and is overseeing its international expansion: the Paris-based company will open U.K. and German outposts this year. Dumas has already successfully expanded Gaumont’s ← footprint in the U.S., where she launched a thriving Los- Angeles-based TV outfit producing such hits as “Narcos,” sold to Netflix, and “Hannibal,” sold to NBC. “With today’s audiences around the globe now used to watching shows in the original language, we also anticipate strong demand for these programs from our overseas broadcast partners,” Dumas recently told Variety.
Jalade Ekeinde, Nigeria, Actress
With more than 300 acting credits to her name, Ekeinde is an icon of Nigeria’s prolific Nollywood film biz, although she says that, “at heart, I think I am an activist first.” An ambassador for the U.N.’s World Food Program and campaigner for Amnesty Intl., she’s used her big-screen platform to drive her humanitarian goals. Her next step is developing a film village in the former slave port of Badagry, where she wants young Nigerians to hone their filmmaking skills while learning about “our rights and future as Africans,” she says. “I continue to explore ways we truly can be liberated and prosperous.”
Denmark, CEO, TrustNordisk
The CEO of the Denmark-based sales powerhouse is one of Europe’s most powerful and forward-thinking film distributors. Recently she spearheaded the banner’s move into TV drama while continuing to make waves in the film world, having secured world sales to the keenly anticipated Hans Petter Moland’s feature “Out Stealing Horses,” based on the best-selling book. “It takes determination and a good balance between hard core business skills and female empathy,” to make a good leader in the global entertainment biz, Ennis says. “Women are just as valuable as men in this business and sometimes even smarter and better leaders.”
U.K., Theater producer
Last year Friedman’s plays were nominated for a record-breaking 31 Oliviers (the U.K. equivalent of the Tonys). She won 11, including nine for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Her reputation for classy shows extends to TV, where she’s helped produce “Wolf Hall” and a reboot of “King Lear,” starring Anthony Hopkins. “We have reached an extraordinary time of change, a revolution, when so much is being challenged and women are coming together and collectively pushing back against the ancient patriarchal system,” she says. “The changes must be root and branch — long-term, seismic shifts in all areas of behavior, fundamental alterations in the way people within the industry conduct themselves.”
Turkey, Chairwoman, Dogan Holding/CEO, Star TV
After 15 years as a consultant restructuring European media and tech companies, Faralyali returned to Turkey in 2010, joining her four sisters in running the sprawling conglomerate founded by her father, Aydin Dogan. She spearheaded its media expansion in Europe, including Eastern Europe and Russia. Last year, its Kanal D Intl. division launched an initiative focused on scripted content co-productions and co-development deals to take advantage of Turkish soaps and dramas’ increasing popularity. She is also the founder of Turkey’s non-political Common Values Movement launched to ease national tensions in the aftermath of the country’s attempted coup.
U.K., CEO, FremantleMedia
Frot-Coutaz has overseen FremantleMedia’s scripted output with such shows as “The Young Pope,” “American Gods” and “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” and is bringing “American Idol” back to U.S. audiences via ABC. Her focus is now on adaptations of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and Robert Harris’ “Munich,” plus nurturing Fremantle’s global shows — “Got Talent,” “X Factor” — “to ensure they remain at the top of their game. My ambition is to make Fremantle the place creatives want to call home,” she says. “We’re really delivering on that.” The key to TV leadership is “instilling a culture where creative talent is given time, focus, resources and attention, and where collaboration, impact and ambition can thrive.”
Gadot may have served the required two years in the Israeli army as a combat instructor, but it was her titular role in last year’s superhero juggernaut “Wonder Woman” that packed a one-two punch with audiences around the world. The film earned more than $700 million worldwide, making Gadot not only one of the sought-after stars on the planet, but also proving that actresses have the power to make box-office bank. Gadot, who called “Wonder Woman” helmer Patty Jenkins her “best friend,” famously stood her ground when it came to sticking up for her sisters: she refused to star in the film’s sequel if producer Brett Ratner, accused of sexual assault, remained involved with the project. Gadot’s tenacity prevailed and “Wonder Woman 2” is slated for a 2019 release.
Spain, CEO, Atresmedia Cine
Last December, Gamero, head of Spain’s biggest broadcaster’s movie production unit, announced one of the country’s most ambitious production-distribution slates in recent history. Among the slate’s highlights: Dan Fogelman’s “Life Itself”; Jake Gyllenhaal’s “The Sister Brothers”; big animated movies “Dragonkeeper” with China Film Group, and Netflix’s “Klaus”; gangster movie “Gun City”; and political thriller “The Kingdom.” With her production drive, Gamero is leveraging Spain’s tax rebates to partner on movie shoots and China’s market potential. But it also reflects personal passion. Making bigger films “helps Spanish cinema grow, gets Spanish audiences used to high-end Spanish cinema,” says Gamero, daughter of highly respected actor Antonio Gamero.
One of Hollywood’s hottest screenwriters, Brit-based Goldman has scored with fantasy, superhero and comic book action movies — traditionally a no-go zone for women. Co-writer on “Kingsman” and “Kick-Ass,” Goldman is writing a prequel to “Game of Thrones” and beefed up the gender politics in her adaptation of “The Limehouse Golem” following a conversation with her two “extremely passionate feminist” daughters. She also recently revealed she was sexually assaulted by an unidentified rock star when she was 16 and didn’t complain because women were conditioned to accept this kind of behavior. She says: “There has never been a more exhilarating time to be a woman working in the entertainment industry.”
Hungary, CEO, Hungarian National Film Fund
A sign in Havas’ office reads: “Always remember: Too much ego will kill your talent.” It reflects her no-nonsense approach, based on 38 years’ industry experience. In the seven years since she and Andy Vajna set up the Hungarian National Film Fund, it has backed local box-office hits, including “Kincsem,” Oscar winner “Son of Saul” and Oscar nominee “On Body and Soul.” She believes in empowering her staff, and remaining open-minded. “There should never be one solution to solving a problem. Instead, I suggest many alternative solutions and my colleagues decide which way they will go,” she says.
Mexico/France, Actress, producer, director, activist
Oscar-nominated for her star turn in biopic, “Frida,” the Mexico-born actress-producer has deftly re-focused the spotlight to causes closest to her heart, particularly women’s rights. In 2005, Hayek spoke on behalf of the Avon Foundation before the U.S. Senate, helping to persuade lawmakers to extend the Violence Against Women Act, which passed the following January. The activist is also proud of her work with the Kering Foundation, founded by her husband, Francois- Henri Pinault. It combats sexual harassment and violence against women on a global scale. “You have to do the right thing, having the certainty that eventually you will see the change or someone else will see the change, that sometimes it takes a long time,” she says.
South Africa, Moonlighting Films
As co-founder and managing director of Moonlighting Films, Hofmeyr’s credits include such blockbuster studio projects as “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Tomb Raider,” and “The Mummy.” “It’s a tough and demanding industry whoever you are,” she says, though after more than two decades of trailblazing in the business, she’s “thrilled to have reached a position where I can make a difference to other women’s success.” As South Africa continues to grapple with the gender disparities plaguing its film and TV biz, Hofmeyr says she’s glad to see the industry “at the brink of a very exciting revolution, where imbalances are and must be corrected.”
China, Head of programming and production, HBO Asia
The veteran producer joined HBO Asia in 2017 as head of programming and production and is overseeing new productions “Folklore,” “Grisse” and “Teenage Psychic 2,” shot in various parts of Asia and different languages. “In greater China or Southeast Asia, where I work most, I have not seen any hindrance in women’s voices and opportunities in our industry,” Kam says. “However, women need to be aware that female images are sometimes being sexualized and objectified by the media and pop culture. And they should not let these diminished images or social misconceptions limit their own potential.”
Kidman won her first Emmy for her starring role as the secretly battered wife in “Big Little Lies,” the HBO limited series she helped produce. Her performance, which also won a Golden Globe, gave the Oscar winner the chance to shine a light on the problem of domestic violence. That’s an issue that Kidman, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Women since 2006, is passionate about combating. The show was so successful that HBO is bringing it back for another run with Kidman and co-star Reese Witherspoon also on board. Also in the works: “Aquaman” and “The Goldfinch” big-screen entries.
China, Managing director, PCCW
Lee joined PCCW in 2003 and in 2010 was appointed managing director of PCCW Media Group, where she is in charge of media and entertainment businesses including Hong Kong’s largest pay-TV service Now TV and pan-regional streaming video service Viu. “I am proud to see the rapid expansion of PCCW Media’s regional footprint to 27 markets in Asia with 19 million monthly active users across all media services,” Lee says. The group released 24 original Viu series last year. “We have been expanding Viu Original series by collaborating with award-winning directors, renowned artists and premium production houses in the region.”
Italy, Co-CEO, Leone Film Group
The daughter of Italian spaghetti Western master Sergio Leone grew up in a household that fostered female empowerment. “The way I was raised, I’ve always thought: ‘how are you going to realize your full potential?,’” she says. Leone says it’s much easier to find women at the top in America, “but it’s starting to happen in Italy as well … you have to work a lot harder than men, but it can be done.” In recent years Leone Film Group has grown to become a top distributor for Hollywood product in Italy, and more recently a prominent film — and soon TV — production shingle.
Known best for her stage work early on, Mirren’s career really went into overdrive when she played two royals — Elizabeth I and II — in the past decade: She scored an ← Oscar and Globe for “The Queen,” Peter Morgan’s 2006 movie about QEII, and another Globe for “Elizabeth I” and an Emmy for that HBO mini, all in one calendar year. Mirren, 72, con-tinues to work steadily in a wide range of projects, and considers herself a modern feminist, urging those who are being harassed to speak up more loudly than she did at their age.
While female Indian producers are rare, Monga says she actually enjoys people saying no; she just keeps finding creative ways to bring stories to life. “You have to see it through till the end and be inspired about it,” says the head of Sikhya Entertainment. Besides Hindi-language films such as “The Lunchbox,” she produced “The Ashram,” starring Melissa Leo and Kal Penn, which premiered this week. “There have been several times where I have not been taken seriously and have had to work twice as hard just because I am a young woman, but I have never let that affect my state of mind towards the end goal of putting together the stories we need to tell.”
Germany, Managing director (film funding), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg
Niehuus is managing director of Medienboard, one of the world’s leading sources of public finance for film and TV production, which has backed Maren Ade’s Oscar-nominated “Tony Erdmann” and “Cloud Atlas” from Lana and Lilly Wachowski, as well as cutting-edge serial dramas such as “Babylon Berlin” and “Berlin Station.” “Berlin has become the hub for excellent filmmaking in Germany, and we are happy to host many directors and actors from all over the world,” Niehuus says. “We are not afraid of change and will provide the support filmmakers need to create the next big thing.”
Truly international, Nyong’o was born in Mexico, raised in Kenya and educated in the U.S. She appeared in MTV’s miniseries “Shuga” before her Oscar-winning turn in 2013’s “12 Years a Slave.” Beauty contracts and high-profile starring roles in “Star Wars” movies followed; more recently, she has spoken eloquently about how “Black Panther” imagines an Africa that was never colonized by others. “Wakanda is special because it was never colonized, so what we can see there for all of us is a re-imagining what would have been possible had Africa been allowed to realize itself for itself,” she told “The View.” “And that’s a beautiful place.”
The star of the recent Bollywood blockbuster “Padmaavat” faced death threats and verbal abuse from various fringe groups with poise and elan. Padukone, whose father, Prakash, was a star badminton player, used to participate in the sport before becoming a model. She is now one of the highest-paid Indian actresses and has made the leap from Bollywood movies such as “Om Shanti Om” and “Chennai Express” to Hollywood titles including “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” last year. She is also philanthropically active, starting her own Live Love Laugh Foundation, which focuses on mental illness.
Italy, CEO, Creative Director, Prada
Prada needs no introduction as a fashion world titan, but her love for cinema and her rapport with the film world is less known. Since its launch at the Venice Film Festival in 2012, the Prada-commissioned Miu Miu Women’s Tales film series has spawned 15 shorts and the designer takes an active interest in the shorts. The latest, Dakota Fanning’s directorial debut “Hello Apartment,” debuted last month. The Prada Foundation also co-produced Alejandro G. Inarritu’s V/R masterpiece “Carne y Arena” with Legendary Entertainment.
Globally infamous since 2012, when three members of the Russian punk-feminist collective were thrown into jail for hooliganism after they criticized Vladimir Putin, the group is now on tour, making its first visits to the U.S. this week. “We’re delighted [to now] live in a time when women around the world are taking their power back,” says Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, the collective’s most visible member, who resides in Russia under the constant threat of arrest. The group’s show “is not easy to digest, non-pleasurable, and provoking in part, with art pieces in both Russian and English,” she says. This is art-as-activism, designed to provoke and rouse anyone who witnesses it. “We have a goal, to have deeper consequences than just [being] a piece of entertainment.”
Qatar, CEO, Doha Film Institute
Under Al Remaihi’s guidance the DFI, established to foster a film industry in Qatar, has become a crucial source of funding for young Arab directors and producers. Female → ← directors have benefited, scooping up nearly 48% of DFI grants since 2010. “When I became CEO there was nothing that said we had to have women; it just happened naturally, and that is the way it should happen everywhere else,” she says. Female empowerment “should be within our education, within our culture, from a very early age,” as it is in Qatar, she notes. Al Remaihi is also founder of Doha’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival.
“The Force” is indeed strong with Ridley, whose career went intergalactic after first starring as Rey in the mighty space franchise three years ago. Taking center stage as heroine in “The Force Awakens,” she reprised the character in “The Last Jedi,” a movie that earned $1.3 billion last year. The actress, who has spoken out against body shaming, is starting 2018 with two disparate roles: the titular role in Sundance debut “Ophelia” and the voice of Cotton-Tail in “Peter Rabbit.” Another “Star Wars” installment is slated for 2019.
Denmark, Director General, DR
It is still rare for a woman to head a European pubcaster, but seven years ago Ronn became the first woman to run Denmark’s influential DR. Coincidentally her promotion came in the same year a U.S. adaptation of DR’s seminal crime show, “The Killing,” bowed. Ronn, a lawyer who rarely gives interviews, received an Intl. Emmy for introducing the world to Nordic Noir; “Borgen” and “The Bridge” followed. Ronn’s strategy: to develop the Nordic voice further by “producing more high-quality drama with the other Nordic public service broadcasters.”
Rowling still has the magic touch, and so, apparently, does her most famous creation: Harry Potter. A two-part play based on a Rowling story took London’s West End by storm and picked up a record number of Olivier Awards last April. Now it’s about to open on Broadway. And more installments of the spinoff film franchise “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” are in the works. But the once-struggling single mom, a spiky presence on social media, isn’t taking her success for granted: “Broadway is scary,” she told the New York Times.
Israel, COO and president of distribution, Keshet Intl.
Since landing at the global distribution arm of Israel’s Keshet, Shahar has shepherded numerous series to the United States and abroad, including the Britain-set drama “The A Word.” “In 2017, we experienced our biggest growth yet,” says Shahar. “This occurred through both targeted acquisitions with Tresor TV Produktions in Germany, as well as organically with our expansion into India and the launch of Keshet Films.” Shahar’s advice to women starting out: “Take any job in the field you want to grow in. Start from the bottom, just get your foot in the door, work hard, prove yourself and then you can move on to the job you want.”
China, Co-founder, Film Workshop
Born in Hong Kong and educated in the U.K., Shi is one of the most prominent figures and a pioneer in the entertainment industry in Asia. She founded Film Workshop Co. with producer-director Tsui Hark in 1984 and produced a number of critically-acclaimed box office hits that became Hong Kong cinema classics, such as the “Once Upon a Time in China” series and “Chinese Ghost Story.” Recent productions include “The Thousand Faces of Dunjia” and the upcoming “Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings.” Shi has also served as on the board of the Bona Film Group.
China, Director of business, iQiyi
Head of film acquisitions at iQiyi, China’s largest online video portal, Song has built exclusive strategic partnerships with Fox, Lionsgate and Media Asia, along with the online library that revolutionized China’s online entertainment industry. “iQiyi has made films an indispensable part of Chinese audience’s viewing habits on video platforms, allowing them more diverse viewing options outside cinemas,” says Song, who has high hopes for women’s growing role in the industry: “In recent years, we are also seeing more directors focusing on women issues. We do believe that excellent female filmmakers will continue to emerge and make women’s voices stronger in the film industry.”
Sweden, CEO, SVT
Stjarne, CEO of Swedish pubcaster SVT, knows European politics inside out. The former political reporter became the youngest-ever head of Swedish radio pubcaster Sveriges in 2002 and subsequently boarded national newspaper publisher UNT as its CEO, joining SVT in 2014. “For me, being a leader is about listening so you have a deep sense of what is happening around you,” she says. “Only then can you create the best possible conditions for people and ideas to flourish. And regarding female leadership, I’m happy to say I’m in good company at SVT, where 57% of our managers are women.”
U.K., CEO, Endemol Shine Group
Turner Laing has compared Endemol Shine to a “flotilla of different sized ships going in the same direction, but quite independent,” whose strength is in its diversity. These programming “ships” include reality formats such as “Big Brother” and “MasterChef,” and scripted shows including “Black Mirror” and “Peaky Blinders.” She encourages her executives to see their shows as brands. “The power of brands has never been more important to help cut through the clutter,” according to Turner Laing. She would like non-TV revenue to rise to 20% by 2020.
U.K., CEO, All3Media
Although owned by goliaths Discovery and Liberty Global, production and distribution entity All3Media still operates as a nimble indie. Its federal structure allows its 28 labels a high degree of autonomy. Turton manages her group’s numerous strong creative and entrepreneurial personalities, such as Gordon Ramsay and Stephen Lambert, with diplomacy allied by a steely resolve to hit goals, such as the ramping up of its scripted operations to 50% of revenue. “Leaders in TV need to be passionate about what they do and they need to care,” she says. “There is no place for cynicism in a creative industry.”
The co-founder of Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon scored an Oscar nom for “The Breadwinner,” an animated movie about a young girl who disguises herself as a boy to help feed her family during Taliban rule in Afghanistan; an Annie trophy for independent feature soon followed. And it was her first solo directing effort. “For me, the idea of a character like Parvana, and my own interest in history, politics, women’s rights and education, and the fact that I am a woman, I suppose that’s what attracted me to tell the story on the screen.”
The groundbreaking French-based director became the oldest Oscar nominee ever at 89, thanks to her documentary “Faces Places,” made in collaboration with JR. Varda’s nomination came a couple months after she received an honorary Oscar, the first for a female director. The Belgian-born director made her feature debut in 1955 with “La Pointe Courte,” a film credited with inspiring the French New Wave, and has kept busy in the decades since. “I don’t feel like filming people that have power,” Varda recently told Variety. “I’m much more interested in the rebels, the people who fight for their own life.”
Colombia, actress, producer
Named the world’s highest-paid TV actress for six consecutive years by Forbes magazine, the Colombian thesp-producer-entrepreneur of “Modern Family” fame has been a leading source of inspiration for Latinos worldwide. In 1994, the Emmy nominee co-founded talent management and marketing firm Latin World Entertainment, which launched digital media startup Raze last year to produce Latino-centric content across all media platforms, recently striking production deals with Netflix, Hulu and TNT. Vergara has channeled her star power to various philanthropic endeavors, including St. Jude’s. In 2001, she created a charity foundation for children in Colombia and donated a pediatric cancer pavilion in her native Barranquilla.
New Zealand, Screenwriter
Walsh strenuously avoids the spotlight, leaving that to her director mate, Peter Jackson, but her imprint on his work is undeniable. She persuaded him to make “Heavenly Creatures,” his 1994 breakthrough starring fellow New Zealander Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet, and soon partnered up with Philippa Boyens to co-write “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the three “Hobbit” movies. The pair ruffled feathers by adding a female character to the Rings trilogy — Cate Blanchett’s ethereal Galadriel — because they believed the tales needed more emotional depth, but didn’t back down. Next up: the trio adapted “Mortal Engines” for director Christian Rivers.
U.K., Actress, activist
Forever Hermoine to Harry Potter fans, Watson has become a leading actress and activist. In 2014, the Brit-based Ivy Leaguer became a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped launch HeForShe, a campaign urging men to advocate for gender equality. Last year, she starred in worldwide hit “Beauty and the Beast,” and added her voice to the Time’s Up campaign. “This issue doesn’t just affect women in Hollywood,” she told Variety at the Golden Globes. “The issue is affecting women everywhere, in every country around the world.”
China, SVP head of Chinese entertainment & original productions, Fox Networks Group, Asia Pacific
For nearly a decade at Fox Networks Group, Yim has been leading the development of the media giant’s Chinese language content. “Stained” and “Trading Floor,” the group’s first Chinese language ensemble miniseries, are slated to be released this year. “We are looking into developing new projects and cultivating new talents,” Yim says. “But we need more women storytellers. Most of the successful directors in this part of the world are men. Our industry will see greater diversity if we are able to provide women storytellers more opportunities to create content.”