Kerry Washington, Samira Wiley, Marti Noxon and 400 industry insiders braved a blizzard for the Women at Sundance 2017 brunch on Monday at The Shop in Park City, Utah. Sponsored by Refinery 29 and the Sundance Institute, the event provided a chance for networking as well as eating; the spread included a bloody Mary bar, mimosas and Dove chocolate crepes.
Following remarks by the Sundance Institute's Kati Putnam and Refinery29's chief content officer Amy Emmerich (who is in charge of scripted, female-focused content at the digital-media company), Washington joined "Manchester by the Sea" producer Kimberly Steward for a conversation aimed to empower and inspire the group.
"I'm such a huge fan of Kimberly," said Washington, who, by design, hadn't met Steward prior to taking the stage. "She had this amazing, beautiful profile in the New York Times and she was talking about women she admired in the business. I was so honored to be named. I said, 'I want to be in a room with that woman — a woman who shouts out other women.'"
After producing HBO's "Confirmation" last year, Washington said she was eager to play a larger role behind the camera. "I've been lucky because it is not often that you get to be mentored in the way that I've been mentored. Because of the success of 'Scandal' on ABC, I was able to have a producing deal there. That's not something that can happen easily."
She then put the spotlight back on Steward and the audience. "I want to hear more about being a financier and what you're looking for," Washington insisted. "I feel like we all would want to hear what it is that financiers need to hear in order to pick us."
Earlier that morning, "Orange is the New Black" producer Lauren Morelli and her fiancée Wiley, sipped coffee while discussing the state of the industry. "Having conversations with women all morning has been such a lovely way to start the day," Morelli said. "I concur. Being here fosters an environment of inspiration," Wiley added.
"At the Women's March on Saturday, there was a man wearing a button that said, 'Seven percent of directors are female,'" Morelli continued. "You know those numbers, but there was something about seeing it so plainly in the middle of something so inspirational. You think, 'Is it going to get better?' But I feel like all I can do is put different work into the world and make sure that work represents the world as I see it."