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  • 02 Feb 2016 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    My leap of faith into the world of media

    By Thea Chard - USC Graduate in Journalism and Freelance Writer

    I graduated college in 2009, among the first class to enter the American workforce amidst the recession. My major, print journalism, no longer exists without the addition of the word "digital" in the title. And gender, much to my surprise, plays a much larger role in my life and my work than I would have ever expected.

    I tried not to make gender an issue, but despite my best efforts, sometimes the issue arose regardless. There was the manager that continually promoted less qualified (and less senior) male colleagues. There was the boss who accused me of being pregnant the one and only time I took a sick day and then fired me for it later. What can I say, it's tough out there ladies. But you knew that already.

    Today the media landscape is vastly different from what it was when I was growing up, and even from when I graduated college seven years ago. Today we see more women and minorities in the media than we ever have before--we get more perspectives outside of the ubiquitous white male point of view, and that's great, but it isn't enough. In a 2015 study the Women's Media Center found that, as of 2014, male voices still dominated the media landscape with 62 percent of bylines and on-camera appearances in America going to male journalists. Look at the film and television industries and you'll see parallel statistics.

    Telling the world's next generation of female leaders to "lean in" can be good advice, but in this ever changing and often perilous media landscape women need more. While my career has not yet reached it's peak (I hope), it has expanded far beyond what I'd imagined back in journalism school, and most of that growth can be attributed back to these eight tips that have helped me open myself up to new opportunities for these changing times.

    1. Don't know something? Learn it!

    Otherwise known as "fake it 'till you make it", this is one of the most valuable lessons I learned after graduating college. When I was first starting out on the job hunt there were a lot of skills interviewers asked me about that I, frankly, didn't have. What I did have was the confidence that, with a little time and a lot of determination, I could learn whatever I needed to get the job done and start racking up new skills in the process. Familiarity with Wordpress turned into experience with HTML, CSS and coding, and before I knew it I was helping clients design and roll out blogs and websites in conjunction with online marketing and PR work. I leveraged copywriting and editing experience from my days on my university's daily newspaper into book editing for indie authors looking to self-publish, and soon I was freelancing as an editor, designer, and marketer helping them package their books from manuscript to print and ebook. While this wasn't where I envisioned my career going, it gave me invaluable experience hustling in the media world, connected me with great contacts that have continued to open doors for me years later, and bolstered my own confidence that, with a few basic strokes, I could in fact jump into deep water and come up swimming.

    2. Diversify yourself

    Stack up experience. Fast. After you learn it, use it to your advantage to broaden your prospects. Then spin it on your resume to work for you.

    When I got my first real journalism job out of college, I wasn't at all prepared to run a hyperlocal news site as the sole writer, editor, photographer and administrator, but I knew how to write, had my own copy of the AP Stylebook, and could snap a decent photo. My boss set me up with a Wordpress account and no rules outside of adhering to journalistic ethics, and before I knew it I was blogging like a pro and developed a huge local online following. Running that site, which to an outsider may have appeared like no more than a glorified neighborhood blog, led to a job as the assistant editor of the local bureau of a business and tech news startup.

    In my experience, the people who have the most career mobility are often those who have made a series of seemingly lateral moves, scooped up new skills along the way, and turned into multifaceted powerhouses. Remember, job experience is the most valuable training you will ever have.

    3. Say 'yes' often, say 'no' more

    Be selective about the work you take. As you begin to collect new skills, you will find yourself becoming a more and more valuable commodity. Use that. Start to think about what each new opportunity could do for you. Be wary of unpaid internships--often times these gigs are intern mills that take advantage of free labor in exchange for the promise of "valuable experience" and "industry connections", which enable the business to save on labor costs for researchers, copy editors and administrative assistants. While this is not always the case, again, you must be selective. Your time is not valueless--a job should be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both you and your employer, and just like a bad relationship, it's always better to end a partnership that isn't serving you so that you may seek out another that will.

    While spending a semester abroad in London, I worked as an intern for the London bureau of the Los Angeles Times, publishing a number of stories in The World section back home. While this had been an unpaid internship, the opportunity paid me in droves in terms of hands on experience, a "staff writer" byline, and solid clips from a reputable publication, which continues to reap benefits in my portfolio today.

    4. Be vocal about what you want

    Once you've taught yourself to be discerning and learn to say 'no' when need be, focus on setting yourself up for success by being as communicative as possible about your needs. If you're offered a job, don't be afraid to negotiate a higher price tag right off the bat--this shows gumption and potential employers will respect you for it (and will often negotiate and offer you a higher rate or salary). Remember, the media workplace is also a business and employers are always trying to get the most they can for the lowest price tag. Also, don't forget that we live in a country where women are still making 79 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts for equal work. For minority women the gender wage gap is even wider. If you're a woman who's managed to climb your way up the ranks and score a coveted job offer in the almost overwhelmingly male dominated media world, don't be afraid to articulate your worth to your employer--the worst that can happen is that they say no (though this is unlikely), and they definitely won't retract their offer.

    5. Stick to habits that work for you

    Everyone is different, and there are no hard and fast rules for productivity or efficiency. Whatever your work entails, by now you've likely figured out some of the habits that work best for you personally. I figured out early on that in order for me to be the most productive, I have to compartmentalize my work life and personal life. I try to keep my workspace clean so that while I'm working I can be as free from distraction as possible. I give myself a certain amount of time to read the news and check social media in the morning, along with a half an hour of free writing to clear my head, while I drink my morning coffee. When that time is up, I stop; if I don't, I'll sink half the day into reading articles and Tweeting and connecting online with other writers. I first started freelancing because I aspired to have a more flexible work life, and I do, but structure is still a huge part of my day--if it weren't, nothing would get done. I've met other freelancers that don't suffer from this same affliction. To them I say: "Good for you!" I'm jealous, but I don't try to emulate their habits. I know myself. Your best practices are first and foremost yours. If it works for you, do it; if it doesn't, toss it.

    6. Don't be afraid to own your woman-ness

    Women often get told to shelter their more feminine qualities and exhibit what could be perceived as a more masculine demeanor. Things like "Don't get emotional." "Never let them see you cry." "Don't take it so personally." And my personal favorite: "Don't be such a woman about it."

    To that I say the exact opposite: be a woman. Why? Because that's what you are, and your innate woman-ness has absolutely nothing to do with your competence, ability, or skill. Beyond that, being a woman does not increase or negate your emotional capacity, just as being a man doesn't make you a stronger leader or more cunning business person. It's all a bunch of old-fashioned nonsense that has no place in the modern workplace. So how do we weed out the backwards ideas and expel them from the office for good? By embracing our woman-ness and not being afraid to own it. Be who you are, and let your competence and energy and talent shine through. The more we embrace our gender both in and outside of the workplace, the more our male counterparts will be confronted with powerful, strong leaders who happen to be women, and undercutting gender-based misconceptions is the key to changing the outdated narrative on women in the media and the workplace at large.

    7. Keep in touch

    They say it's not what you know, but who you know, and they say it for a reason. Truth be told, I am not at all a fan of networking, and participating in such events is a constant struggle for me. That being said, opening yourself up to others in your community is more than an invaluable practice; it's key. Talent can get you far, but talent has no value if it lives inside a vacuum. In the media world, your work is only as valuable as its potential reach. My seven-year-old clips from the Los Angeles Times have had greater longevity than any of my other work because the name they're attached to is a prestigious one. Just last week I cold-emailed an editor of a environmental nonprofit to inquire about writing for her publication. I fully expected not to hear back, and was pleasantly surprised when she responded within the hour. The first thing she noticed about my portfolio was that I had written for the LAT, of which she was also an alum. That's the reason she responded and that connection opened a door for me that may have otherwise stayed firmly shut.

    Even if you prefer solitary writing time at home, try to get yourself to a networking event or two semi-regularly. Once you're there you'll find that the experience is not as shallow and opportunistic as one might fear. Most people are there for the same reason you are--because they're eager to connect with others in their field in a mutually beneficial way. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find that almost everyone you meet will be much more open than you might have expected. Once you make that connection, you can go back to it time and time again, for years to come. Just don't throw the business cards in a drawer and never follow-up. Keep in touch!


    8. Unplug

    While we're working in a media landscape that is all about the now, remember that it's crucial to slow down--even shut down--and take a break every now and again, especially when you're juggling more than one demanding project at a time. If you find yourself overwhelmed, easily distracted, or slow going during the work day, consider taking a hiatus from your email and social media, maybe even turn off your WiFi and take a breather, clear your head, and find focus without the constant stream of tweets and emails, texts and instant messages.

    At this moment I have six web browser windows open, each with anywhere from two to 30 tabs, and hundreds more saved in my bookmarks to be returned to later. I do this with the intention of going back to finish reading an article or researching a topic later, but the reality is there is simply not enough time in the day and I will more than likely never revisit most of them. Still, I remain optimistic. I open more tabs until my browser is so overwhelmed it can't load a simple Google search. Then I know it's time to purge. In those moments I have a drill that is my version of a hard reboot for my head: I close my email, shut down my Internet, turn off my phone and disable my WiFi, and for an hour or two I am often more productive than I have been for days. Sure there's an amount of catch-up and maybe an important email or two goes temporarily unanswered, but responding an hour later is a small price to pay for clarity of mind in your personal life and your work. Remember just because we have the ability to be connected all the time, doesn't mean we must. 

    Try Tip #7 and practice your networking skills at the next AWM SoCal  Speed Mentoring  event.

    Chard is also a former AWM SoCal Speed Mentoring mentee:

    "Speed Mentoring was one of the best networking experiences I had when I was first starting out. It taught me how to refine and polish a successful pitch and make more lasting and memorable connections in just a few short minutes. Plus, you'll meet a ton of people outside of your usual career circle, all of them interested in your goals and eager to help you on your path to reaching them. Definitely worth it!"  


    Why Women Don't Apply for Jobs Unless They're 100% Qualified
    The Highest Paid Actresses And Actors Of 2015
    The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Fall 2015)
  • 03 Jan 2016 10:25 AM | Anonymous

    A special message from our President, Samantha Brown.  

    Greetings! We have grand plans for the New Year and they include YOU!

    Do you have a New Year’s resolution to expand your media expertise and brand yourself for success?

    AWM SoCal offers a variety of educational opportunities throughout the year addressing timely industry topics.

    Are you looking to expand your industry relationships and networking circles?
    Meet and network with the AWM SoCal Board of Directors and members at great venues around Los Angeles.

    Do you want to meet leaders and peers in your area of interest or want to learn about new developments in areas of media that are skyrocketing? 
    Check out AWM SoCal Speaker Programs throughout the year.

    Would a mentor help you?
    Sign up for AWM SoCal’s Spring Mentoring event in February, followed by another mentoring event in the Fall.

    Do you want to join AWM SoCal in supporting local philanthropic initiatives?
    Sign-up for an AWM SoCal Committee - especially AWM SoCal Foundation’s Genii Awards Gala committee which is ramping up now. The Genii Awards Gala benefits college scholarships for students looking to enter our industry.
    The Alliance for Women in Media is dedicated to advancing the impact of women in media and entertainment … and that means YOU.
    We are here to help with your New Year goals. Make joining AWM SoCal and getting involved your New Year’s resolution.
    It’s going to be a great year!

    Samantha Brown
    President, Alliance for Women in Media Southern California Affiliate

  • 06 Oct 2015 8:55 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Ashkan Sobhe, CEO and Founder of ITC — Digital Marketing Agency. Ashkan Sobhe is speaking on the AWM SoCal digital media panel at Digital Hollywood on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Join us for this informative conversation with leading industry experts. For more information and for tickets, visit


    You’ve been in this business a long time. Long enough to see companies making the same mistakes over and over. Whether it’s a restricting marketing budget or a lack of vision, businesses suffer when their marketing is not handled properly. Check out this list of the seven most common mistakes companies make — and make sure your business isn’t falling into any of these traps!

    7“We don’t have any marketing budget!” It’s the age-old saying: you’ve got to spend money to make money. Businesses claim to have no room in the budget for marketing, and then they are surprised when they lose revenue. Marketing is all about getting your product or service in front of your consumers. When your business is starting to decline, your marketing budget should be the last thing to go.

    6“We’re based in California, and we hired someone in Ohio to do our social media.” Remember: your marketing team is going to speak on your behalf to the whole world. They should understand every aspect of your business, your culture, and your demographic. This kind of in-depth knowledge is much more difficult to gain via long-distance. Make sure you meet with your marketing team face-to-face and communicate with them on a regular basis.

    5“We hired a web guy to do all of our marketing.” Digital marketing is made up of four main categories: social media, technical (web development/SEO), graphic design, and copy. Each of these areas requires a high level of experience and expertise to truly make your business stand out from the crowd. If you find a single person who can design professional and creative graphics, code like a pro, get you on the first page of Google’s search results, run an expert social campaign, and write engaging copy—let me know. I’ll hire this mythical creature on the spot.

    4“We tried marketing but it didn’t work.” What would happen if after one bad date you decided to stop dating? You’d never find true love! If you’ve had a bad marketing relationship in the past, it’s easy to get burned, but the important thing is to learn from those mistakes. When a new client tells us exactly what went wrong with their last marketing efforts, we can anticipate and overcome those challenges.

    3“We don’t know what we need!” A true leader knows where she is going and what she needs to do to get there. You might not know how to amp up your SEO, but you should know that this is an important step to getting your business noticed. Read as much as you can—about marketing, creativity, business, and your industry. Talk to others in your profession and learn from their wisdom. If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to step up and take charge of the direction of your business.

    2“Our business is different. We don’t need marketing.” This has been the hardest one to comprehend. If you have a business, people need to know about it. After all, that’s how you make money! If a business is saying they don’t need marketing because they’ve got all the business they can handle, then the question is really a growth and scalability issue. Every business needs marketing, including yours.

    1 . I am leaving the final deadly marketing sin up to you. What marketing mistakes have you seen over the years? Email me at or call 310.927.2588 if you think of a good one! Let’s chat about it.

    Ashkan Sobhe is an entrepreneur with a deep passion for technology. As the Founder and CEO of ITC, the award-winning creative digital marketing firm in Los Angeles, Sobhe has taken his expertise and ingenuity to resounding new heights.

  • 11 Aug 2015 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Desireé Duffy, AWM SoCal Co-President


    A recent report from Carnegie Mellon University that compared results of nearly identical job-seeking profiles rattled our perception of gender bias online. After all, we’d all like to think that an algorithm put in place by Google, the world’s largest search engine and creators of those adorable Google Doodles featuring inspiring women like Marie Curie and Sally Ride, couldn’t display gender-bias.

    Could we be wrong about our lovable Google?

    The Carnegie Mellon researchers built a tool that tracks how user-behavior on Google affects the ads shown to that user. Numerous fake accounts with only one differentiating factor—whether they were male or female—were created. The results: Google displayed high-paying, upper-level jobs to the set identified as “male” 1,852 times, and 318 times to the set identified as “female”, in display ads.

    If this were an anomaly maybe we could be forgiving. After all, even algorithms can make mistakes, right? Google has come under scrutiny before. A search for the term “CEO” in “Images” shows row after row of men—mostly white men at that. During a search conducted at the time of this article’s writing, I counted to 28 before I saw a female image result.

    What is Google’s top female result for “CEO”?

    Well, it’s a Barbie Doll in a power suit. The image is pulled from an article about how the CEO Barbie image is the first result in a search for the term “CEO” and how it is actually from an old Onion article that jabs at corporate misogyny. (I know, I got woozy trying to follow that, too. Just Google “CEO” and click the Barbie image to see what I mean.)

    The first real woman CEO result is that of General Motors’ Mary Barra, coming in at number 42. Then we go all the way to number 63 to find Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. That image is pulled from a Mashable article about her having a baby and becoming a new mom. Hm.

    After hearing about the Carnegie Mellon research, feminist horror writer and producer, Justina Walford from Wildworks Productions, decided to do a little A/B testing herself. She switched her gender to male on Facebook to see what would happen.

    “The most striking result of me changing from female to male on Facebook, is the fact that the cheap dresses stopped following me. As a woman, I’m bombarded with ads for fashion, dresses, and bathing suits,” says Walford. “However as a guy, I get ads for higher-end men’s clothing like Bonobos and Indochino, as well as credit cards and travel. The weirdest thing I noticed though, were how many fewer ads there are on Facebook for the fellas. In many cases I have to click around to even find an ad while posing as a man.”

    Walford’s impromptu test lead her to a useful revelation all women might find handy:

    “I discovered a quick, easy way to get all those cheap dresses to stop following me on Facebook—simply become a dude!” she says.

    So does this mean algorithms can be sexist?

    Understanding what an algorithm is may shed more light on the subject. Simply stated, an algorithm is a set of instructions or rules to follow which produce a result or answer. So the question really is, is the person who programmed the Google algorithm sexist, or did the algorithm adapt to what people’s habits were and deliver a sobering result based on what women and men respond to?

    In other words, do women click less on high-level ads than men, causing the algorithm to be responsive to the number of times it shows such ads to women?

    Or maybe the answer is a third option, one that points to the advertisers of the ads. When selecting criteria for display ads, marketers are given the option of which gender they want to target.

    Could the ads have been set up to be shown to men more than women?

    I went to the experts to get more clarity. Andrea Faville from Google told me, “Advertisers can choose to target the audience they want to reach, and we have policies that guide the type of interest-based ads that are allowed. We provide transparency to users with ‘Why This Ad’ notices and Ad Settings, as well as the ability to opt out of interest-based ads.”

    Going back to the research done by Carnegie Mellon, it is important to note their study is not actually about Google’s search results or algorithm. Since they were looking at display ads, it is the advertisers who determine what audiences their specific display ads are shown to—so the party placing the ad is the one potentially choosing which gender sees it.

    LaFern Cusack is the Immediate Past President of the Alliance for Women in Media, SoCal and a radio talk show host. I asked her opinion about people and companies placing ads that target men over women.

    “Placing ads for high-level positions and intentionally targeting men over women is not acceptable. This is why organizations like the Alliance for Women in Media need to keep fighting the fight. Women and people of every gender should be presented with the same opportunities in order to truly have the same opportunity. That’s what makes businesses, cultures, and society successful. To alienate people based on their sex is proof that there is still a long way to go to ensuring equality,” says Cusack.

    So what do the numbers say?

    According to a CNNMoney analysis, only 14.2% of the top-five leadership roles in S&P 500 companies are held by women. Worse yet, at the very top, only 24 CEOs are female.

    It is my opinion that corporations, HR professionals, and digital marketers need to be aware of potential gender bias when placing online ads. Not doing so is not only discriminatory, (and I honestly question the legality of it) but it perpetuates outdated stereotypes that have no place in today’s society.

    Adding diversity to the upper levels of a company creates a positive, more inclusive corporate climate. Young women today need to be able to envision themselves in leadership roles in order to one day achieve them. A good way for that to happen, is if instead of cheap dresses, images of equality and empowerment follow them online.

    Desireé Duffy is the Vice President of Operations for ITC, an award-winning digital marketing agency in Los Angeles. She is also the co-president of the Alliance for Women in Media in Southern California. She sits on the Board of Advisors for the Women in Entertainment and Technology Summit, which is a part of Digital Hollywood, and is also on the board of directors for the L.E.A.F. and Lifeboat Foundations.

    Twitter: @Desiree_Duffy
    Web: and

  • 11 Aug 2015 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    AWM SoCal Members and Friends:

    It is with great excitement that we introduce ourselves as your 2015-2016 Co-Presidents and welcome you to the 64th anniversary of AWM SoCal. As long-time supporters of the Alliance for Women in Media, we are dedicated to the AWM mission to advance the impact of women in media. We look to do this by offering you, our members, events that provide opportunities for networking, education, mentorship, philanthropic support and career inspiration.

    We are also very proud to introduce our all-star 2015-2016 Board of Directors. Our board comes together under a singular goal and with a passion to help improve the success of women in our industry. Collectively, our board brings over 1,000 years of industry knowledge and experience that spans the many sectors of entertainment.

    This year can be a great year of advancement for women in media. but we cannot do it alone. We need your help in furthering the advancements we have made thus far and feedback from you on areas and ways we can help you to improve opportunities for women in media. We look forward to meeting you at our upcoming events. We welcome your suggestions and please feel free to contact us at

    Here’s to a great year! 

    Desireé Duffy and Samantha Brown

    Photos by: Crazy Hair Photography by Jeanette Oliver

    FB Photography: Crazy Hair Photography - by Jeanette Oliver

    IG: crazyhairphotography

    TW: crazyhairphotog

  • 12 May 2015 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    I first discovered the AWMSoCal Speed Mentoring event two years ago. I was a year out of college and completely lost. I knew I wanted to work in the entertainment industry, specifically in film and television. I just didn’t know how to break in or what steps to take to get me to the point of doing a good job once I did break in. So when I saw a Facebook posting about AWMSoCal’s Speed Mentoring event, I knew I had to participate.

    Speed Mentoring is held at Carla’s Café on the CBS Radford lot. It is modeled after the speed-dating concept. Mentors (industry professionals in media) sit across from mentees (students, those looking to break in or those looking for a career change), and give valuable career advice through one-on-one conversations. A five-minute stopwatch marks the time and when the bell rings – time is up. Mentees move down the line to the next mentor.

    Back then, participating in the Speed Mentoring event as a mentee was actually life changing for me.  At the event, I met Cali T. Rossen, who brought me onto her show, “3 Orbs of Light”, where I ended up writing and directing the pilot episode. I met Jennifer Yeko, who ended up being a good friend of mine – she referred me for an office space right across the hall from her. I also met K.C. Tuckness and Michelle Patterson who ended up participating on a panel event I put together called “Women Leaders in Media”.  All these connections came through just five minutes of speaking with these knowledgeable and accomplished women at the event. I couldn’t wait to participate in the event once again!

    Two years later, I found myself back at Speed Mentoring – except this time, I was a mentor instead of a mentee! Since my first appearance at the event, I’d started my own company, Prophecy Girl Films, and had worked with many high-profile clients including the International Documentary Association, HBO’s Emmy Nominated documentary American Winter and Festival de Cannes Short Film Corner selectee, My Guardian Angel. Attending the event the first time as a mentee actually helped me land some of these deals, and propelled my career to the next level. But as a mentor, it was a whole new experience – and just as fruitful!

    This year I met with some wonderful mentees – aspiring writers, actors, sports journalists, producers, and more, all with wonderful stories of their own, and insightful questions. One mentee asked me a great question -  “What is the worst career advice someone has given you?” Another mentee asked me about the interview process and what’s the best way to follow up with an employer even if you aren’t hired. A couple of mentees I met had projects they wanted to hire my company for. A few others had skills that I needed for my company for freelance work. This mutually beneficial relationship between mentors and mentees is what really makes the Speed Mentoring event so successful.

    Besides the wonderful mentees, I also managed to meet some delightful fellow mentors – including two television producers, a news anchor, and a comedy writer – and have kept in touch with everyone I met at the event. The mentors were all wonderful men and women with insightful knowledge and good attitudes. They were happy to help the mentees, and were great at fostering connections between everyone involved with the event.

    AWM SoCal always puts together great events, and I like attending them all – but Speed Mentoring is probably my favorite. Where else are you going to get to meet with the best in the business and make meaningful connections with them? If there’s any event that’s worth spending a Sunday morning at (and hey they have breakfast on site too) it’s this one. As for me, be it as a mentor or mentee, I’m already looking forward to the next Speed Mentoring session!

    - Minoti Vaishnav

    To see photos from Speed Mentoring 2015 at Carla's Cafe at CBS Radford, click here. 

    Click here to see a video testimonial from Daniela D'Angelo, mentor at Speed Mentoring 2015.

    Click here to see a video testimonial from James Cross, mentor at Speed Mentoring 2015.

  • 11 May 2015 12:05 PM | Anonymous

    I’ve always been fascinated by the entertainment industry. When my classmates in middle school wanted to grow up to become doctors and lawyers, I wanted to be a filmmaker. But being a female filmmaker is no easy feat – only about 5% of directors are women, and in 85 years of the Academy Awards, a woman has been nominated for a Best Director Oscar only four times.

    I’ve always felt that a change needs to be made for women in media. So when I joined the Alliance for Women in Media, I was pleasantly surprised to find an organization that worked towards making a positive change in the industry. A place that not only works to develop the careers of women in media, but also to foster networking amongst the best in the business.

    On April 28th, AWM SoCal partnered with LUNAFEST, a traveling film festival that spotlights the work of a diverse array of talented women filmmakers with intelligent, funny and thought-provoking themes. The event benefited the Breast Cancer Fund and the AWM SoCal Scholarship Program. The evening, aptly called “Chicks, Flicks and Fun” was hosted at the Skirball Cultural Center, with a reception and mixer to start the evening. Those of us setting up beforehand placed Luna bars around the room, as well as in carefully selected colorful gift-bags already housing CD’s and beauty products.

    As 6:00pm rolled around, people started checking in - and the turnout was great! A number of women (and even a few men) came to the event to connect with each other and to watch some wonderful films. AWM’s mixers are always very welcoming. People meet each other for the first time, and within minutes they’re fostering a meaningful connection with each other. This is exactly what happened at “Chicks, Flicks and Fun” as well, where people mingled over delicious snacks and drinks.

    As the clock struck 7:00, we entered the auditorium – raffle tickets in hand – and sat down in the purple seats of the Magnin Auditorium. The raffle included some great prizes, including gift cards from Tom’s Urban and LA Galaxy tickets! After the raffle, we settled in and watched eight great LUNAFEST short films.

    Every film had something unique to offer. From a Muslim-American girl trying to make her high-school’s cheerleading squad in “Tryouts”, to the light short documentary “Lady Parts” that showcases an auto shop run by women in an industry dominated by men. From the humorous but important narrative in “Tits”, to the story of an all-woman mariachi band in “Flor de Toloache”. Then there was the beautiful paper-mache animation of “Miss Todd”, about the first woman in the world to design an airplane, and the uplifting and fun documentary “Viva”, about Viva Hamnell, the grandmother of punk. My favorites of the night were “Chicas Day”, about a mother-daughter relationship that’s surprisingly not about a mother and daughter at all, and “A Good Match”, a film that centers around a woman trying to keep a close friendship with her ex-boyfriends mother. Both films were very well structured from a writing perspective, which is what I most enjoyed about them.

    After the screenings it was time to go outside and collect those colorful gift bags we’d so carefully put together. The event left everyone feeling inspired and motivated. Overall, it wasn’t just about watching the films and supporting a good cause. It was also about learning the journey of female filmmakers and watching compelling stories about women that everyone can relate to.

    As I walked away from the Skirball Center that night, I felt a little bit better about those female director statistics. We’re making a change. The steps taken may be small ones, but they’re making a difference.

    Click here to see a video recap.

  • 28 Jan 2015 3:35 PM | Anonymous

    The night before Arianna Huffington was to speak at an Alliance for Women in Media event at CBS to promote her new book Thrive, I was forwarded the email from, of all people, my husband.  I was not a member and had never attended their events before. But as a woman photographer and director, I felt I might as well rearrange my schedule to join and attend. You see, to be perfectly honest, I never wanted to join a “woman’s club.” As a woman in my 40’s, I had stuck in my head that these types of groups were still of the “we don’t need men” 1970’s women’s libbers type mentality.  And yet something about this flyer, inviting me to become a member and have a chance to possibly meet Arianna Huffington and tell her about this amazing experience that happened to me during my 25th wedding anniversary in Sicily, prompted me to click “Join Now.”

    I arrived at CBS and found a seat in the front row (yep, I’m one of those people). I struck up a conversation with the women to my left: one a magazine editor for a major publication and the other a writer in advertising. In 10 minutes I felt like we were old high school friends at our reunion!

    Arianna arrived and spoke. What can I say? She was divine.  I believe the first thing out of her mouth was “Yes, the accent is real.” and fourth thing was “Washington [DC] needs a nap.” Her anecdotes resonated so deeply and emotionally with the audience of women of all ages. She talked about how she handles all the email she gets everyday, she talked candidly about organizing her time and how important it is that we take advice in daily life from the flight attendants when they say “Put your own oxygen mask on first, then help those around you.”

    I loved glancing back at all the smiling and laughing faces who were not only feeling a little closer to this female icon that stood before us but also feeling inspired, understood, validated, motivated, and hopeful!

    Then the magic moment I was hoping for: getting to meet Arianna and briefly mentioning a few key words for her to remember my story. I stood in line holding my book next to a girl who asked if I would take a picture of her with Arianna using my camera and that she would do the same for me. I agreed but hesitantly because I was more focused on making a meaningful impression than an instagrammable selfie. When my turn arrived I walked up to the table, reached out my book for her to personalize and sign, and told her “My name is Denice.” Then I realized I only had a nano second to compose what my “meaningful impression” statement would be. Would it be “Look for my email about my Sicilian family” or “Remember me. I’m the woman who just celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with a story to tell.”? And then the unthinkable happened… she spoke first! She said with her elegant accent and radiant smile of sisterhood “My, you are so nice and tall!” Wait…what?! I wasn’t prepared for this. I knew I had time for only one reply back and I couldn’t think of how to logically reply to her AND make my “meaningful impression.” So I just gave an honest and completely boring answer “Oh, thank you. My dad’s side of the family is German…and, uh… he’s 6 ft 4.” She politely smiled and handed me my signed book. I walked away. That was it. I failed.

    And then I heard my name being yelled. It was the girl in line who was now crouched down next to Arianna, smiling and poised for her picture I promised to take. I snapped it. It was lovely. It was everything you’d want out of attending a celebrity event: a flattering photo of you with the star! That girl was very happy and I was glad to have given her that. I left with no photos of Arianna, and no meaningful dialogue with her.

    But I had her book and I began reading it that very night. A quote in her book gave me the courage to email her. So four days later I composed a succinct email with the subject Re: The Tall Girl from CBS. I woke up the next morning and screamed as I opened my email. She not only wanted me to post my story on the Huff Post but I was welcomed as an independent blogger!

    To date I have submitted four blogs and they have posted all four.  It has been tremendously rewarding to have the prestige of the Huff Post’s audience but I think one of the best gifts I have received from this experience is that I have an entirely new view and respect for the power of connecting with like-minded people and more specifically – women.  In Arianna’s book Thrive she says “Research has shown that our willingness to let ourselves experience the wonder of coincidence really does say something about us” and not only was my Sicilian story that brought me to Arianna one of complete coincidence, but so was the overall uniting concept of women and the magical similarities that we have between us.  I found that the “wonder of coincidence” pervaded through that room because we all were women and although vastly unique in our artistic endeavors, we all shared the understanding of the demands put on the multi-tasking woman. There was a very definite bond; it was palpable, like a security blanket we all quietly shared… okay, maybe not so quietly. And may I add, we were one good-looking bunch of women!

    I cannot thank the Alliance for Women in Media enough for holding this well organized and productive event and, fortunately, I will never be the same because of it….

    Denice Duff

  • 28 Jan 2015 11:14 AM | Anonymous

    Deanna Zaccari is a former fashion manager with over 12 years of experience at Giorgio Armani’s flagship store on Rodeo Drive. During her tenure there, Deanna liaised with Armani PR to assist high-profile clients’ needs for red carpet events. Long-standing client relationships developed, many of whom followed her upon the creation of her Lifestyle Design brand in 2003.

    Deanna Zaccari Lifestyle Design initially offered Styling and Personal Shopping services. Since 2011, her service now incorporates both interior design and high-end travel. Deanna’s clients benefit from her vast fashion experience, well-established relationships with designers and premiere lifestyle brands, accompanied by her dedication to impeccable service and attention to even the smallest of details.

    Deanna works one on one to ensure the creation of a comfortable, timelessly elegant style specifically tailored to fit her clients’ life and needs.

    Deanna’s entertainment industry work includes:

    • Styled movie poster for "Cymbeline" 2013
    • Styled lead character for independent film "The Story of Eva" 2013
    • Styled Alexander Ludwig for “The Hunger Games” National Tour & Premiers                
    • Styled Norman Reedus (Walking Dead) for Golden Globes    
    • Styled 10 page spread for Vice magazine (Desert Boys)
    • Styled an eight page spread for Elle Italia
    • Styled lead characters from “ER” and “West Wing” for several years
    • ESPY Awards VIP gifting and worked with Lindsey Vonn
    • Kevin James commercial for Super Bowl (Mall Cop)
    • Styled video campaign for designer LOVA
    • Produced/Styled runway show for Le Chapeau, LA Fashion Week
    • Dressed cast for the sizzle reel for “The Robin Hood of Fashion”
    • Dressed cast/set decoration independent film, “Veda”
    • Dressed Juan Carlos Arciniegas, entertainment reporter for CNN Espanol
    • Styled band “Fairfax” for Taylor Guitar video

    Why did you become an AWM SoCal member?

    I joined AWM SoCal in August 2014. I attended my first time event that was a mixer at Mixology and was very impressed with the group of women involved, and I joined that night. I look forward to getting to know more members of the group and being a more integral part. I have been looking for a group of great inspiring women like AWM.

  • 07 Jan 2015 2:41 PM | Anonymous

    As we contemplate what we want 2015 to be, we often begin with a New Year’s Resolution. Let’s begin here with the Power of NO. Say NO to a New Year’s Resolution and say YES to creating habits that will help you succeed this year.

    One of the things I hear over and over again from clients who seek help, is that they don’t have time to do the things they enjoy, or make positive changes. They complain that they are just too busy, and yet they are still looking for the answer as to why their life isn’t as enjoyable or successful as they’d like it to be.

    I found this blog and couldn’t have said it better myself. Honestly, you probably won’t like it, but here you go.

    You probably aren’t as busy as you think you are!

    Excerpt from a blog I found on “LifeHacker” published 4/14

    Ever feel like you're overwhelmingly busy? Of course you have. We all do. But chances are, you might not be as busy as you thinkundefinedand knowing this simple fact can reduce a lot of stress.

    It sounds sillyundefinedafter all, you'd think this "trick" would work with anythingundefinedbut there's something special about the way we claim business these days. We live in a cult of busy. And chances are, you're not actually as busy as you think.

    Today, I’m not going to tell you to meditate, or take more vacations, or breathe, or walk in nature, or do anything that will invariably feel like just another item on the to-do list. The answer to feeling oppressively busy, is to stop telling yourself that you're oppressively busy, because the truth is that we are all much less busy than we think we are.

    It helps to have this basic reminder: and the most important thing is that you stop telling yourself how busy you are. If your brain just refuses to accept that, there are things you can do to convince it, like logging your timeundefinedbut chances are a simple reassurance will help.

    NO is the second most powerful word!

    Saying “no” takes practice. It’s not about adding more to your “to do list”, it’s about knowing the things that it’s okay to say no to.

    But first, we need to understand the reasons we say “yes” to so much. Are we seeking approval? Do we want to be liked, are we afraid we’ll miss out on something?

    Our personal psychology affects the decisions we make. But it doesn’t have to be a trap. Once we learn and accept why we are saying “yes” so much or why we don’t say “no” enough, we can start practicing, setting boundaries and create a healthier balance in our lives.

    I believe that there is no such thing as “work/life balance”. It’s ALL life. We are the sum of all of our activities.

    Depression and anxiety affects one quarter of our population. Most people who are suffering from depression and anxiety don’t seek treatment for it, and therefore continue on through their life wondering “is this all there is?”

    I’m thrilled and honored to be presenting this topic for the [Alliance for Women In Media, SoCal] event happening later this month. It’s a great way to begin 2015, and is in line with the goals I set for myself for the year.

    I hope that you’ll say “YES” to learning that ‘NO’ is the second most powerful word, and that saying “No” can have a positive impact on your life and help you achieve a successful balance.

    I’d love to connect with you! Click any of the links below and let’s grow together!

    Kelly Orchard’s Apple A Day AudioBlog


    “Heart Lessons” on Facebook



    Kelly Orchard, M.A., LMFT


    Board Member for Alliance for Women In Media Southern California

    2015 President & Public Relations and Media Chair for Southwest Riverside Chapter/

    California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

    American Heart Association 2015 Temecula Heart Walk Executive Leadership Team Member

    Public Relations and Marketing Chair for Women’s Peer Connection/Temecula Valley

    Nominated by Temecula Chamber of Commerce for 2014 Citizen of the Year

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