Spotlight On: Amy Poehler

The 2019 Women In Film Entrepreneur in Entertainment:
Amy Poehler

Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews

As we approach the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala, we are excited to profile each of our distinguished honorees. We hope that you’ll be able to join us on Wednesday, June 12, for what is sure to be the event of the summer: an inspiring and lively night celebrating women who are changing the entertainment industry for good.

One of the extraordinarily talented women that we’re featuring at the Gala is Amy Poehler, the first recipient of the Women In Film Entrepreneur in Entertainment Award.

This new award celebrates the ongoing achievements of an individual whose work nurtures the advancement of their female collaborators. Just as her creative output is shaping the landscape of high-quality film and television, her influence is benefiting the larger conversation about gender parity in Hollywood.

We couldn’t be prouder to honor Amy Poehler, whose work demonstrates a commitment to innovation and support for the next generation of rising talent. And, we have her to thank for countless hours of laughter and entertainment.

An actress, writer, executive producer, and bestselling author, Poehler continues to be a groundbreaking figure in the worlds of film, television, comedy, and more. She currently executive produces the hit crafting competition series “Making It,” now in production on its second season, which she also co-hosts alongside Nick Offerman. Her directorial debut WINE COUNTRY, now on Netflix, boasts a talented roster of fellow “Saturday Night Live” alumnae, from writers Emily Spivey and Liz Cackowski to cast members Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, and more.

She also continues to produce the award-winning website and organization “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls,” dedicated to real young people changing the world by being their authentic selves. The “Smart Girls” mantra echoes facets of Poehler’s successful career: “We emphasize intelligence and imagination over ‘fitting in.’ We celebrate curiosity over gossip. We are a place where people can truly be their weird and wonderful selves. We are funny first, and informative second, hosting the party you want to attend.”

Amy Poehler’s status as an icon of modern funny feminism has been cemented throughout her years embodying figures like the ambitious public servant Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” the sardonic co-host of “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live,” her characterization of Senator Hillary Clinton on “SNL,” and as an in-demand fixture hosting competitive awards shows.

The trajectory of Leslie Knope from humble civic employee to eventual Presidential candidate remains an aspirational yet familiar journey for women of all ages in the “Parks and Recreation” audience. Season after season, Knope comes up against institutional patriarchy, and has the mettle to challenge it. In the season seven episode “Pie-Mary,” Knope and her husband Ben Wyatt face a barrage of annoying interview questions while on the campaign trail, and respond in the way that likely every feminist political candidate would hope to:

Leslie: “‘Why did I change my hairstyle?’ Oh, I don’t know. I decided it would look better. Or my kids got gum in it. ‘Are you trying to have it all?’ That question makes no sense. It’s a stupid question; stop asking it. Don’t ask it! ‘Do you miss your kids while you’re at work?’ Yes, of course I do. Everybody does. And then, you know, sometimes I don’t.”

Ben: “And by the way, no one’s ever asked me that question. No one’s ever asked me, ‘Where are your kids?’ and, ‘Who’s taking care of them?'”

As herself, Poehler has expressed these same frustrations endemic to hard-working women. In an interview for SundanceTV’s “The Approval Matrix,” she identified the host’s subconscious male privilege when he asks her about the challenge of needing to fulfill numerous high expectations:

Poehler: “Well, this feeling that you’re having right now, which is like, ‘I’m supposed to be all things,’ is a feeling that women have every day and their whole lives.”

In an interview with AOL’s “Build,” she also spoke of the divisiveness that is often used as a wedge to weaken the collective strength of women from all walks of life:

Poehler: “…this discussion about who is and isn’t a feminist is yet another example of media trying to bite us, to take us and split us apart and argue among each other. I think we need to continue as women to celebrate what we have in common and share, and stop letting society focus on how we’re different.”

"Parks and Recreation"
"Saturday Night Live"
MEAN GIRLS (2004)

Of course, her accomplishments extend beyond the meaningful impact of her roles onscreen and persona in interviews. Accolades have followed from her peers in the business.

Her portrayal of Leslie Knope earned her a Golden Globe for “Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical, or Comedy” and an American Comedy Award for “Best Actress in a TV Comedy.” Poehler also received six consecutive Emmy nominations, two additional Golden Globe nominations, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.

Poehler joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 2001 from the Upright Citizens Brigade, a sketch/improv troupe that she co-founded and continues to be heavily involved in. UCB has since opened theaters which are regarded as the premier sketch and improv comedy venues in New York City and Los Angeles. Scores of talented writers, comedians, actors, and more have gotten their start at UCB.

Her tenure on “SNL” lasted for eight seasons, including five seasons as co-anchor of “Weekend Update.” In 2008, she received her first Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series” for her work on “Saturday Night Live.” This was an unprecedented nomination, making her the first performer in “SNL” history to land a spot in this category. She went on to receive a second nomination the following year. When Poehler returned to the “SNL” stage to co-host alongside Tina Fey in 2015, the duo went on to win the Emmy Award for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.”

Off-screen, Poehler has multiple projects in development and/or production as part of her successful company Paper Kite Productions. She serves as executive producer of the critically-acclaimed Netflix series “Russian Doll” starring Natasha Lyonne. She is also co-creator, executive producer, and will lend her voice to FOX’s upcoming animated series “Duncanville” which centers on the life of Duncan (voiced by Poehler), a spectacularly average 15-year-old boy. Forthcoming projects include Adult Swim’s half-hour comedy pilot “Three Busy Debras;” the film adaptations of the feminist young adult novel Moxie, the children’s fiction book The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, and the Rebecca Makkai-authored The Great Believers; and the forthcoming Riki Lindhome comedy TAILS.

In the film world, Poehler co-starred opposite Will Ferrell in THE HOUSE and opposite Tina Fey in SISTERS. She also lent her voice as the character “Joy” in Disney Pixar’s Oscar-winning smash hit INSIDE OUT. Her additional film credits include WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, THEY CAME TOGETHER, A.C.O.D., BABY MAMA, BLADES OF GLORY, and MEAN GIRLS. Her voice has also been heard in numerous animated features, including box office hit SHREK THE THIRD.

Poehler’s first book, Yes Please, was released in October 2014 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. The book went on to spend over 23 weeks on the list.

Join us at the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala as we celebrate the innovation and entrepreneurship of Amy Poehler and the rest of our honorees, on June 12, 2019 at the Beverly Hilton. Click the image below to purchase tickets.