McClung’s Magazine blogger Nancy Barnett interviews Samantha Bee, recipient of the International Achievement Award presented by WIFT-T at the Crystal Awards on Dec. 5.
McClung’s Magazine blogger Nancy Barnett was invited to attend the Crystal Awards on Dec. 5 held at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The 24th annual gala luncheon hosted by the not-for-profit Women in Film and Television Toronto Division (WIFT-T) recognizes and celebrates the achievements of women and men in film, television and digital media. We will profile some of the winners in the weeks to come.
By: Nancy Barnett
Feature image via Nancy Barnett.
Coming from a media background and entering an industry where jobs are scarce, I need all the inspiration I can get. Luckily, I found just that at the Crystal Awards.
A welcome message from Heather Webb, executive director of WIFT-T and Prentiss Fraser, chair of WIFT-T’s Board of Directors and senior vice-president worldwide sales and acquisitions at Entertainment One Television opened the ceremony. Their message stressed the importance of the Crystal Awards creating opportunities in mentorship, education and practical skills for women working in the highly-competitive world of film, television and digital media.
WIFT-T honoured these women this year:
CBC Television’s Julie Bristow, executive director of studio and unscripted programming, won the Creative Excellence Award. Bristow helped launch CBC’s factual entertainment division in 2006, bringing reality TV hits like Dragons’ Den, The Week The Women Went and Battle of the Blades to Canadian viewers.
The Kodak New Vision Mentorship was given to writer and director, Ana Valine, who as part of the award will be mentored by Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta on Valine’s first feature film, Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, an adaptation of the Billie Livingston novella, The Trouble With Marlene.
The CBC Business of Broadcasting Mentorship went to emerging producer Heidi Tao Yang. As part of the mentorship, Tao Yang will attend a weeklong workshop at CBC Television’s Toronto studio in February, learning about production.
The Mentorship Award was presented to Carol Whiteman, the president and CEO of Creative Women Workshops Association and producer of the Women in the Director’s Chair Workshop, a professional development and mentoring program.
Noreen Halpern won the Outstanding Achievement Award. Halpern, now based in Los Angeles, is the president of Dramatic Programming for Entertainment One Television, producing many shows including Kenny vs. Spenny, Rookie Blue and the upcoming series, The Firm.
The final award of the afternoon, the International Achievement Award, was presented to Toronto native, Samantha Bee, a comedic actress know best for her role as the Most Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Bee received a special video message from her cast members at The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, John Oliver and her husband Jason Jones, who were “horrified” to discover she was a Canadian. On a serious note, she emphasized the struggle it was for her to get into the industry, taking years of waitressing before she got her first break.
Trevor Walton, CBC’s executive director of commissioned and scripted programming, asked his twelve-year-old niece who was doing a report on women in the media if she could add anything to his introduction for the CBC Business of Broadcasting Mentorship. His niece quickly responded with statistics from the documentary, Miss Representation, emphasizing that women are hugely undermined and underrepresented in media, holding less than a tenth of executive positions.
Obviously, the word is out. As I learned from interviewing some of the presenters, this statistic holds true in Canada as well, making events like the Crystal Awards paramount to improving the success of women in the media.