Forging
Forward

October 27, 2022
The Beverly Hilton

Our annual benefit supports WIF’s educational and philanthropic programs and its advocacy for gender parity throughout the industry. This year’s WIF Honors will celebrate the women who are forging forward: laying the foundation to transform Hollywood for the better, with their ingenuity, vision, and persistence.

For information about how your company can purchase a table at the 2022 WIF Honors, please click here to download table sales information and contact Director of Development Courtney LaBarge Bell at clabargebell@wif.org. Click here to download the press release.

Honorees

Quinta Brunson

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Quinta Brunson

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Named one of Time 100’s Most Influential People in 2022, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment, The Hollywood Reporter’s Next Gen Rising Young Stars, and dubbed “the new queen of sitcoms” by New York Magazine, award-nominated actor, producer, and writer Quinta Brunson has quickly made a name for herself as a powerful force and game changer within the entertainment industry.

Brunson can currently be seen starring in ABC’s smash hit comedy series Abbott Elementary, where she also serves as creator and executive producer. The show, inspired by Brunson’s mother who served as a public-school teacher for many years, follows a group of dedicated, passionate teachers that are brought together in a Philadelphia public school where, despite the odds stacked against them, are determined to help their students succeed in life. Season one of Abbott debuted to critical acclaim and rave reviews; with media calling it “charming and insightful” (The Atlantic), “the next great network sitcom” (The Hollywood Reporter), “a smart conceit, sharp writing, the right cast…” (Entertainment Weekly), and “should be everyone’s new comedic obsession” (IndieWire), to name a few. The magic of Abbott Elementary is not just in the clever writing and stellar comedic performances from the cast but in Brunson’s ability to shine the light on big issues that plague public education in a real, relatable way while encouraging audiences that we can do better. Abbott Elementary premieres season two this fall on ABC.

As an author, Brunson released her debut novel She Memes Well (HMH Books) in June 2021. The bestselling book, a deeply personal and funny collection of essays featuring anecdotes about trying to make it when you‘re broke while overcoming self-doubt and depression, brilliantly balances jokes, autobiography, and serious thoughts about the state of the country. She Memes Well is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target online (to name a few).

Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Brunson started her journey at The Second City in Chicago and burst onto the entertainment scene in 2014 when the series she created, The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date, went viral on YouTube and Instagram, making it one of the first series to gain a mass following on both digital platforms. Since then, Brunson’s original content has reached hundreds of millions of people and her followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have hit 2.5 million and counting. Brunson’s online success quickly attracted the attention of BuzzFeed, where she landed an initial job as a video producer. Shortly after, Brunson’s position quickly grew as she sold two web series as a development partner with BuzzFeed Motion Pictures: the scripted comedy Broke (which she wrote, produced, and starred in) for YouTube Red, and Up for Adoption, which was produced by Verizon’s go90. Brunson’s performance in Broke was nominated for Best Acting in a Comedy at the 2017 Streamy Awards.

Since leaving BuzzFeed in 2018, Brunson’s career as a writer, producer, and actor has skyrocketed. She landed a lead role in The CW pilot The End of the World as We Know It. She wrote, produced, and starred in the series Quinta vs. Everything for Facebook Watch, and wrote/sold a multicam comedy pilot alongside Larry Wilmore and Jermaine Fowler for CBS with ABC Studios. Brunson has also lent her voice to a plethora of projects, including Adult Swim’s Lazor Wulf (where she is also a staff writer) and Netflix’s Big Mouth. Brunson is also often recognized for starring in HBO’s award-winning sketch comedy series A Black Lady Sketch Show, opposite Robin Thede, Gabrielle Dennis, and Ashley Nicole Black.

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Award-winning director/writer/producer Gina Prince-Bythewood is one of the most versatile storytellers working in film and television. Known for her authentic character-driven work, Prince-Bythewood has directed and written such influential feature films as Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, and Beyond The Lights.

Prince-Bythewood’s next feature film is the epic,The Woman King for Sony’s TriStar Pictures which opens in theaters on Friday, September 16. The film tells the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar® winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for… The film stars Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and John Boyega. Produced by Cathy Schulman, p.g.a., Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, and Maria Bello. The executive producer is Peter McAleese.

Prince-Bythewood’s most recent feature film was the critically-acclaimed action drama blockbuster The Old Guard starring Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne. A Netflix and Skydance original feature, it is based on the popular comic book series created by author Greg Rucka and illustrator Leandro Fernández. Among the accolades Prince-Bythewood received for her work on the film includes the Nancy Malone Directing Award from New York Women in Film and Television. The blockbuster is among the Top 10 most popular Netflix films of all time with Prince-Bythewood becoming the first Black female director on the list. Prince-Bythewood, who decided not to direct the sequel, is a producer on The Old Guard 2. The film is currently in production.

For television, Prince-Bythewood most recently directed the first episode and served as an Executive Producer of ABC’s limited series Women of the Movement. The six-episode series aired in three parts debuting in January, 2022, and based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son Emmett Till following his brutal murder in the Jim Crow South in 1955. Women of the Movement is created and Executive Produced by Marissa Jo Cerar, who worked with Prince-Bythewood on Shots Fired.

Prince-Bythewood’s next television project will be Genius: MLK/X, which she and her husband Reggie Rock Bythewood, will serve as Executive Producers under their production company Undisputed Cinema. The Disney+ Original limited series is produced by Imagine Television and 20th Television. Genius: MLK/X will explore the formative years, pioneering accomplishments, dueling philosophies and key personal relationships of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Malcolm X argued forcefully for Black empowerment, identity and self-determination. With their formidable wives, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, by their sides, King and Malcolm X became synonymous with the civil rights era and the fight for racial and economic justice. While they met only once and often challenged each other’s views, neither would have been as successful without the other. The series reunites Prince-Bythewood and Rock Bythewood with 20th Television and Imagine Entertainment, who previously worked together on Shots Fired.

Other recent credits for Prince-Bythewood include the special event series Shots Fired, on which she and Rock Bythewood served as Series Co-Creators and Executive Producers. The ten-hour series for Fox examined the dangerous aftermath of two racially charged shootings in a small Southern town. In addition, Prince-Bythewood directed the pilot for Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, which launched to strong reviews and viewers, starring breakout actors Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph as two teenagers with newly acquired superpowers who are mysteriously linked to one another.

Additionally, Prince-Bythewood and Rock Bythewood have a multi-year first-look deal with 20th Century Television under their production company Undisputed Cinema. The multi-year deal covers television projects for broadcast and streaming platforms. The versatile duo’s Undisputed Cinema produces timely and timeless character-driven stories aimed to challenge audiences’ perspectives in different ways. Undisputed Cinema’s stories show humanity on-screen and create deep connections driven to build empathy between their characters and their viewers.

As a longtime advocate for equal representation in film and television on-screen and behind-the-scenes, Prince-Bythewood has championed many emerging writers and directors as well as funding a scholarship for African American students in the film program at UCLA, her alma mater.

Katie Silberman
with Olivia Wilde

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Katie Silberman
with Olivia Wilde

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Katie Silberman is an American screenwriter and producer most known for writing and producing Booksmart, the 2019 hit coming-of-age film directed by Olivia Wilde and starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. The film received WGA and BAFTA award nominations for Best Original Screenplay, appeared on many “Best Films of the Year” lists, and garnered several year-end awards from film critics groups. Silberman also wrote Netflix’s 2018 romantic comedy Set it Up, starring Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu, and Taye Diggs, and New Line’s Isn’t it Romantic, starring Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine, and Liam Hemsworth, which premiered in 2019.

Katie’s next project is the anticipated psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling, which she wrote and produced. The film, which is directed by Olivia Wilde, will be released in theaters on September 23, 2022, and stars Wilde, Harry Styles, Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan. Don’t Worry Darling is the second time Silberman and Wilde have worked together, and they will reunite again on an upcoming untitled comedy for Universal.

A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University’s MFA film program, Silberman lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Olivia Wilde
with Katie Silberman

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Olivia Wilde
with Katie Silberman

Crystal Award for Advocacy

Director, actress, producer, and activist Olivia Wilde is a modern-day renaissance woman. From directing feature films to acting in Broadway to starring in popular films and television shows, Wilde continues to elevate her versatile presence all while simultaneously giving back to the community.

Wilde has quickly risen the ranks as one of Hollywood’s most notable new directors. Her new film Don’t Worry Darling is one of the most anticipated titles of the year and was selected to premiere at the esteemed Venice International Film Festival in September. Wilde pulled triple duty as director, producer, and star of the movie. The cast includes Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Kate Berlant, and Nick Kroll. Don’t Worry Darling will debut exclusively in theaters worldwide this fall.

Wilde has had a bustling few years on the motion picture side. Her 2019 award-winning directorial debut Booksmart, starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, became a generational anthem and continues to be praised as one of the most beloved films of its decade. Wilde received acclaim for her directorial style and won the Independent Spirit Award last year for Best First Feature. She and the film were honored at multiple film festivals including garnering the audience award at the San Francisco Film Festival, appeared atop multiple “Best Films Of 2019” lists, earned Wilde personal nominations for the Gotham Awards and Critics’ Choice Award, and had multiple Critics’ Circles name Booksmart one the best movies of the year. The picture, which was produced by Annapurna and Gloria Sanchez, the female-focused production banner wing of Gary Sanchez Productions, first premiered at SXSW to rave reviews and garnered a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Recently, Wilde directed the short film Wake Up for HP. The project premiered at Sundance 2020 and was a finalist in the short film category for Tribeca Film Festival’s Tribeca X Award. Wilde also produced and starred in the film A Vigilante as a secretive figure that rids victims of their domestic abusers and received critical acclaim for her role in the difficult yet timely subject matter. Previously, Wilde produced and starred in the drama Meadowland, garnering significant praise for her emotionally charged performance. Additional past film credits include the Oscar-winning drama Her, the Golden Globe-nominated Rush, and the critically acclaimed indie comedy Drinking Buddies, which she also executive produced.

Broadening her horizons even further, in 2017 Wilde made her Broadway debut in 1984, the harrowing adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian tale. Starring alongside Tom Sturridge and Reed Birney, Wilde received immense acclaim for anchoring the play as Julia, the woman with whom the protagonist begins an affair. The show began previews in May and ran a vigorous, yet extremely successful run through October. On the television side, Wilde starred in HBO’s rock ‘n’ roll drama Vinyl from creators Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, and Terence Winter. She also previously starred on FOX’s hit medical drama House.

Along with her work in front of the camera, Wilde continues to expand her roles behind the scenes. She has served as executive producer on several documentary films, her most recent being the short Fear Us Women, which won Best Documentary Short at the 2017 Napa Valley Film Festival. Additionally, she executive produced Body Team 12, which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, won the News & Documentary Emmy award for Best Documentary Short, and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short category. She also directed the video for Dark Necessities, a five-minute music short for the well-known funk rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Additionally, she directed the music video No Love Like Yours, the first single off of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ sophomore album.

Wilde co-founded the philanthropic company Conscious Commerce, with the mission to create a guide for conscious living by promoting the causes, brands, people and lifestyles that are forging a new paragon of living. Wilde was recently honored by Save the Children with their Advocate Award in recognition of her galvanizing support for frontline aids helping save the lives of thousands of mothers and children through the 1 Million Community Health Workers Campaign. Additionally, the organization named Wilde as an artist ambassador focusing on maternal, newborn, and child survival. She is also a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice and the ACLU of Southern California.

Michaela Coel

Jane Fonda Humanitarian Award

Michaela Coel

Jane Fonda Humanitarian Award

Emmy and BAFTA award-winning actress, playwright, screenwriter, director, showrunner, poet, and author, Michaela Coel is one of the UK’s leading stars. Having won numerous awards for her hit TV series, I May Destroy You, Michaela is the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and was featured in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Coel’s phenomenally successful and ground-breaking HBO/BBC dark comedy-drama I May Destroy You, which she created, wrote, co-directed, and starred in, premiered in June 2020. The series is fearless, frank, and provocative, offering refreshing insight into the contemporary lives of young people and the complex issues they face while living, working, and building relationships in London. Coel plays the central role of Arabella, a self-assured, carefree Londoner whose identity is called into question upon being spiked with a date-rape drug. The series was met with across-the-board praise from both critics and audiences alike and won a host of prestigious awards including: two Emmys, five BAFTAS, three Royal Television Society awards, a Peabody Award, two Independent Spirit Awards, and a GLAAD Award, amongst many others, with multiple nominations globally.

This year will see Coel star in Marvel movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the anticipated sequel to the 2018 blockbuster with Ryan Coogler writing and directing again. Coel joins a cast that includes Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, and Angela Bassett. The film will come out globally on November 11. She recently finished shooting the Mr. & Mrs. Smith series for Amazon alongside co-creator, executive producer, and star of the show, Donald Glover.

Coel’s first book, Misfits: A Personal Manifesto, was released in September 2021 and received wide acclaim, described as: “comic and devastating” by The New York Times, “your self-help bible of 2021” by The Sunday Times, and “a perfect truth teller of our time” by Elle. The book is a passionate and inspired declaration against fitting in. It is based on the prestigious MacTaggart lecture Coel gave in 2018 at the Edinburgh TV Festival, where she was the first Black woman to take the lectern.

In 2018, Coel played the lead role in Been So Long, a movie-musical written by Che Walker and directed by Tinge Krishnan. The film was released on Netflix, and Coel was nominated for ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ at the British Independent Film. That year, Coel also starred in the BBC Two/Netflix drama Black Earth Rising, receiving rave reviews for her performance as Kate Ashby, a woman who as a young child was rescued during the Rwandan genocide and brought to Britain. Written and directed by Hugo Blick, the show explored issues of justice, guilt, and self-determination across Europe, the UK, Africa, and the USA.

In 2017, Coel was picked as one of the Screen International ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ and made the Forbes Magazine ‘30 under 30’ list celebrating the brightest young entrepreneurs, breakout talents, and change agents across the globe. Coel was also selected as one of the ‘European Shooting Stars’ at the Berlinale Film Festival.

2017 saw Coel feature in series four of Charlie Brooker’s award-winning dystopian drama series Black Mirror for Netflix. Coel had previously appeared in the third series of Black Mirror, in Joe Wright’s episode Nosedive. Coel also made a surprise cameo appearance in the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Coel first came to prominence for her debut series Chewing Gum, based on her sensational play Chewing Gum Dreams, which ran at the National Theatre in 2014. The success of Chewing Gum led to several awards for Coel, including: two Royal Television Society Awards for ‘Best Comedy Performance’ and ‘Breakthrough Performance,’ A BAFTA Television Craft Award for ‘Breakthrough Talent,’ the ‘Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme’ award at the BAFTA Television Awards and a Broadcast Digital Award for ‘Best Scripted Programme.’

Other TV credits include: E4 comedy-drama The Aliens; BBC espionage drama London Spy, starring alongside Ben Whishaw and Jim Broadbent; and the award-winning, raw, and gripping C4 drama Top Boy.

Coel’s theatre credits include acting roles in Home directed by Nadia Fall, Medea and Blurred Lines, directed by Carrie Cracknell, all at the National Theatre, and Three Birds at the Bush Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange, directed by Sarah Frankcom.

Lili Reinhart

WIF Max Mara Face of the Future Award®

Lili Reinhart

WIF Max Mara Face of the Future Award®

Lili Reinhart has quickly amassed an impressive resume as one of Hollywood’s most exciting young actors on screen and is quickly becoming a multi-faceted talent with projects as an executive producer and New York Times bestselling author.

Reinhart can currently be seen in Wanuri Kahiu’s Look Both Ways for Netflix for which she is also an executive producer. Reinhart stars as Natalie, whose life, on the eve of her college graduation, diverges into two parallel realities: one in which she becomes pregnant and must navigate motherhood as a young adult in her Texas hometown, the other in which she moves to L.A. to pursue her career. In both journeys throughout her 20s, Natalie experiences life-changing love, devastating heartbreak, and rediscovers herself. The film premiered on August 17, 2022 at #2 globally across all films on the platform.

Reinhart most recently starred and executive produced the coming-of-age drama Chemical Hearts, based on the best-selling novel Our Chemical Hearts written by Krystal Sutherland. The film, directed by Richard Tanne, marked Reinhart’s debut in an executive producer role and premiered worldwide on Amazon Prime on August 21, 2020.

Reinhart also starred opposite Jennifer Lopez in Lorene Scafaria’s feature film Hustlers which premiered at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival and went on to make over $150 million at the box office. Additionally, the film was nominated for “Best Feature” at the 2019 Gotham Awards and won the New York Film Critics (NYFCO) as one of the “Top Films of the Year.” Reinhart’s other film credits include: Melanie Laurent’s Galveston opposite Elle Fanning and Ben Foster which premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and Julia Hart’s Miss Stevens, opposite Lily Rabe and Timothée Chalamet which premiered at SXSW in 2016.

Reinhart is well known for playing Betty Cooper in Greg Berlanti’s television series Riverdale, which is based on the famed Archie Comics. For her performance, Reinhart won seven Teen Choice Awards and has been nominated for three People’s Choice Awards for “Favorite Drama TV Star” and “Female TV Star of 2020” along with a 2021 Critics Choice Super Award nomination for “Best Actress in a Superhero Series.” Additionally, the show has received a 2018 MTV Movie & TV Award nomination for “Show of the Year” and a 2019 nomination for “Best Show.” The series won a 2019 Teen Choice Award and People’s Choice Award for “Favorite/Choice TV Drama.” The series will begin production on its seventh and final season for The CW.

As an author, Reinhart penned Swimming Lessons, which is a New York Times bestselling collection of poems released by St. Martins’ Publishing in 2020. Currently, the book is available for purchase worldwide.



Featuring

Viola Davis

Presenter

Viola Davis

Presenter

Jane Fonda

Presenter

Jane Fonda

Presenter

Sheryl Lee Ralph

Presenter

Sheryl Lee Ralph

Presenter