Whether it’s Trump’s misogyny or Madonna’s heartfelt acceptance speech this week at Billboard’s Women in Music – “I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer,” – 2016 has been a depressing reminder of how sexism and inequality remain rife.
Such events also serve as a reminder that we need to celebrate women’s achievements more than ever and to give them public platforms (including of course, EdTVFest 2017) from which they can inspire and enthuse the next generation of both women AND men.
So it was an honour not only to attend this month’s Women in Film and TV Awards but also to present an award to a huge new talent, Michaela Coel. This actor, writer, poet and musician was one of many amazing women collecting awards – from Sarah Lancashire and Laura Kuenssberg to Lifetime Achievement winner (another to add to her collection!) Beryl Vertue. Genuinely one of the most inspiring women in television, Vertue rightfully received a standing ovation for a typically self-deprecating speech in which she put down her success to simply being “logical”. Her determination to protect the family values inherent in Hartswood Films – over and above selling out to a big buyer – was starkly apparent, as was her generosity of spirit in a speech which ended with her imploring the audience to simply “be kind to each other.”
See more speech and picture highlights below:
Beryl Vertue: “So really I can say to you all, that I’m so enjoying what I’m doing; I love the people I am with, they’re so loyal. That’s really important, loyalty. They’re not competitive; can’t have competition in the office – it’s outside it, not in it. Must be truthful so people trust you. I always remember years ago in America I had this script I was selling to the network. I said: “It’s really good.” I said: “The bit in the middle doesn’t work actually, but I can probably fix that.” And I got outside and someone said to me: “What’s this honesty angle of yours?
“And then there was a man on a plane years ago, who said: “You feminists you know, as if you think you’re going to drive a 20ft truck, 20 ton truck!” I said: “Well I don’t think that’s my ambition in life!”
Michaela Coel: “This award is for all women who aren’t just dealing with the cards they’ve been dealt…who see a space in the industry – a vacant space and are not wasting any time and are claiming those spaces. It’s for women who just by being darker than a paper bag or raised in low income homes are from birth statistically less likely to even hear about the opportunities and chances, that others in the world, and in our industry, feel a natural entitlement to.
“Your voice is so important. Tell your story. Tell us that you actually prefer not being perfect. You are full of burpy, farty, sexy, sensual contradictions. You are beautiful and you are ugly. You haven’t got your shit together and maybe the strain of dropping and picking up your shit, is a strain you enjoy and want to explore until you die.
“Maybe you have career ambitions, maybe you don’t want to be someones wife, maybe you want to be married to two husbands, maybe you gave a guy a hand job on a plane. Maybe you did those things. Tell your stories, we want to hear your stories and you’re free to do whatever you want. And hopefully this is an encouragement to you.“