Symposiums on Gender in Media

Stories from Around the World: Empowering Women and Girls through Film

Washington D.C., U.S. Institute of Peace, Sept. 23

Megan C. Beyer, Moderator
Director, External Affairs, EDGE

Megan C. Beyer

External Affairs, EDGE

Megan Beyer represents EDGE Strategy, a Swiss-based company providing assessment for certification of gender enlightened workplaces. Economic Dividends for Gender Equality, EDGE Strategy Certification, provides third party verification that a company is authentically gender enlightened, rendering a pipeline to leadership for women.

Ms. Beyer serves on the Women’s Leadership Board of Harvard University’s Kennedy School and is the founder and Chair of a bilateral project with Swiss and U.S. women leaders called “Sister Republics: Committing to a Stronger Economy with Women’s Leadership.” In partnership with George Washington University, the project conducted the first gender workplace research in Switzerland producing two reports on the role of women in business.

An award winning journalist, she is a regular panelist on the national PBS program, To the Contrary and writes for The Huffington Post, Role Reboot, and The SHRIVER Report on the glass ceiling and gender workplace issues.  From 1995 to 2005 she anchored and reported for ESPN’s Nation’s Business Today, the USA Network’s First Business. She began her career doing political and general assignment reporting for Media General’s News Channel 8 and the CBS affiliate WTVR Channel Six in Richmond, Virginia.

Ms. Beyer has served on the Virginia Board of Pro-choice NARAL, co-chaired the national NARAL Roe vs. Wade 34th Anniversary dinner and served on the advisory board of the Northern Virginia Junior League.  She was Virginia spokeswoman with Rosalyn Carter and Lynda Johnson Robb for “Every Child By Two,” was a trustee on the national board of Reading is Fundamental and on the Virginia board of the Medical Care for Children Partnership. From 2004 to 2009 she was Finance Chair of the Virginia Community Colleges. In 2009 was honored by the DC chapter of Girls Inc for helping to build an equitable society.

Abigail E. Disney

Executive Producer, The Trials of Spring

Abigail E. Disney is a filmmaker, philanthropist and community activist currently producing the multi-media initiative, Awakening, along with Executive Producer and fellow Leadership Council Member, Zainab Salbi. Her longtime passion for women’s issues and peace-building culminated in her first film, the acclaimed Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Ms. Abigail co-founded the Daphne Foundation, which works with low-income communities in the five boroughs of New York City. She also founded Peace is Loud, which amplifies women’s voices for peace-building using the power of media.

Elizabeth Frank

Chief Content & Programming Officer, AMC Theatres

Elizabeth Frank has worked in the media and entertainment industry for over 20 years, with Time Warner, McKinsey & Company, Viacom, and Vestron. She joined AMC Theatres in 2010 to lead corporate development and strategic planning, including the transition from private equity ownership to publicly-traded (NYSE)/majority-controlled (Beijing-based Wanda Group). She currently serves as AMC’s Chief Content & Programming Officer, responsible for the sourcing, scheduling, buying, and promotion of films, as well as maximizing AMC’s industry relationships strategically. Frank serves on the Board of Directors for Open Road Films (independent film distributor), Fathom Events (alternative content distributor), Digital Content Delivery Coalition (satellite delivery service provider), and AmeriCares (global health non-profit).

Frank and her husband live with their three children in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jamie Gordon

Executive Producer,
A Path Appears

Jamie Gordon founded Fugitive Films with her producing partner Courtney Potts in 2005 after running the Development Department of GreeneStreet Films (GSF) in New York City for six years as well as working on multiple award-winning Hollywood feature films.

Gordon is currently an Executive Producer on PBS’s multipart series, A Path Appears, based on the upcoming book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which will air in January-February 2015. This follow-up series uncovers the harshest forms of gender-based oppression and human rights violations, as well as the effective solutions being implemented to combat them, and features celebrity advocates including Malin Akerman, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Mia and Ronan Farrow, Alfre Woodard and Ashley Judd.  Previously, Gordon executive produced PBS’s award-winning documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The first installment featured America Ferrara, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, Olivia Wilde, as well as a number of inspiring thought leaders.

Fugitive is in pre-production on Sam Hoffman’s film Humor Me, inspired by his award-winning website,  Fugitive is also developing numerous projects including: the script Usha with writer/director Danielle Lurie, a true story about an Indian woman crusader; a film based on the National Book Award finalist River Town by Peter Hessler; and a film adaptation of Brooke Berman’s off-Broadway hit Smashing.  On the television front, Fugitive is developing a series with Someone to Watch Award winner, director Shaka King (Newlyweeds), and playwright Leslie Ayvazian.

Fugitive Films produced Will Frears’ directorial debut, Coach, starring Hugh Dancy, Ben Walker and Gillian Jacobs and the comedy Wedding Daze, starring Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher and written and directed by Michael Ian Black. The latter premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was acquired by MGM.

While at GreeneStreet Films, Gordon championed the five-time Oscar-nominated In the Bedroom (Miramax) and produced both the critically acclaimed, award-winning Pinero (Miramax) and the box-office hit swimfan (20th Century Fox).  Gordon also co-produced A Love Song for Bobby Long, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and earned a Golden Globe nomination for Scarlett Johansson. She began her career as a Story Editor for producer Wendy Finerman as her assistant on the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump. She then went on to work with executive producer Charles Newirth on two of Rob Reiner’s films, The American President and Ghosts of Mississippi.  Gordon graduated from Princeton University with a BA in History.

Angela Guy

Senior Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, L’Oréal USA

Angela Guy is the Senior Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion for L’Oréal USA, the largest subsidiary of the L’Oréal Group, the world’s leading beauty company.  Ms. Guy is responsible for shaping the diversity efforts for L’Oréal USA as a business imperative that highlights the value of all forms of beauty while respecting and reflecting the differences of our rapidly changing marketplace.  She is a member of the L’Oréal USA Executive Committee and collaborates to align L’Oréal’s global diversity efforts. Ms. Guy reports directly to Frédéric Rozé, President and CEO, L’Oréal USA.

Prior to this appointment, Ms. Guy was Senior Vice President, General Manager of SoftSheenCarson, the #1 ethnic haircare brand in the world, and a Consumer Division of L’Oréal USA. In this role, Ms. Guy oversaw all aspects of the SoftSheenCarson brand in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean.

Ms. Guy also worked 19 years at Johnson & Johnson in Sales leadership positions throughout the USA and Canada; 3 years in Sales with Levi Strauss & Company, Accessories Division and 3 years in Retail Management with Hills Department Stores.

She is a Board Member for Harvest of Hope Family Services Network, Inc. and the American Conference on Diversity; Advisory Board and member of the Coalition of 100 Black Women, NYC; and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Executive Leadership Council; and the Asia Society Business Council.

Ms. Guy has been recognized as: Savoy Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America” and “Top Influential Women in Corporate America”; a Black Enterprise “Power Player,” and “75 Most Powerful Women in Business”; one of “The 25 Influential Black Women in Business" by The Network Journal; 2010 Beacon Award Recipient by the Coalition of 100 Black Women; and Community Service Award Recipient of the Central Jersey Community Development Corporation.

Ms. Guy has been acknowledged as a recipient of the Pearl Award by the Women’s Academy of Excellence, Trailblazer Awards by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, NYC, and Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI), Legacy Award by Penn State Black Alumni Association and Community Service Award by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., NYC.

Ms. Guy has a B.A. in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University.  She has attended Executive Leadership Programs at the University of California Los Angeles, Northwestern University and The Center for Creative Leadership.

Amelia Hanibelsz

Founder Tell2C Productions, Advisory Council FilmAid International

Amelia is a two-time Primetime Emmy-nominated, Genesis Award-winning, producer-director. Her career began in Sri Lanka, aged seventeen, with a UN supported Norwegian media NGO, producing and presenting over fifty segments on sustainable development, the environment, and human rights. Over a six year period in Singapore she worked for FremantleMedia, Discovery Channel, and TV/E – Television Trust for the Environment. Based in New York since 2005, Amelia has developed, pitched, produced and directed content for National Geographic, Animal Planet, the History Channel, A&E, and OWN – The Oprah Winfrey Network. She has extensive production experience in China, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Africa , Indonesia, Singapore, Uganda, the UK, Canada and the US.

Currently she is working with FilmAid International and their talented refugee filmmakers in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya to celebrate "World Refugee Day”, as well as working as a consultant for Creative and Content with FilmAid Kenya. Most recently she just returned from Nigeria, after producing short films on education and girls for ActionAid UK.

Close to two decades of international documentary experience has shown Amelia that media can do more than entertain. It has the ability to educate, inspire, empower and bring about change. With this belief, Amelia founded Tell2C Productions.

Carla Koppell

Chief Strategy Officer,
United States Agency for International Development

Carla Koppell is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). In that role, she is creating, communicating and executing strategic initiatives across the Agency, focused particularly on improving Bureau strategic planning and management for results. As CSO, she is fostering Agency-wide coordination and enhancing internal communications, transparency and accountability. Koppell brings to the position twenty-five years of experience working in international affairs.

Prior to serving as CSO, Koppell served as USAID’s first Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and a Senior Advisor to the USAID Administrator. In that role, she spearheaded a transformation in the approach of US development assistance to empowering and benefitting women and girls globally. Under her leadership, USAID developed a new Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy as well as specific Agency-wide strategies and plans for advancing the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and the US Strategy for Preventing and Combatting Gender-based Violence Globally. Koppell served as USAID’s representative to the White House Council on Women and Girls and contributed to Government-wide efforts ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment are core goals of US foreign policy.

Previously, Koppell directed The Institute for Inclusive Security and the Washington, DC office of Hunt Alternatives Fund where she strived to ensure that peace processes around the world involve women and civil society. During her tenure, Koppell worked extensively with leaders from volatile conflict zones around the world including Afghans, Colombians, Iraqis, Israelis, Liberian, Palestinians, South Sudanese, and Sudanese.

Earlier in her career, Koppell was senior adviser and, prior to that, interim director of the Conflict Prevention Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, where she authored “Preventing the Next Wave of Conflict: Understanding Non-Traditional Threats to Global Stability.” Koppell served as deputy assistant secretary for international affairs of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), helping steward bilateral relationships with South Africa, China, and Israel in addition to overseeing HUD contributions to Central America and the Caribbean reconstruction following Hurricanes Mitch and Georges. She also directed the USAID climate change program and, earlier in her career, worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Koppell received her M.A. in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her B.S. from Cornell University.

Stacy Smith, PhD

Associate Professor, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Stacy L. Smith (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1999) joined the USC Annenberg faculty in the fall of 2003. Her research focuses on 1) content patterns pertaining to gender and race on screen in film and TV; 2) employment patterns behind-the-camera in entertainment; 3) barriers and opportunities facing women on screen and behind-the-camera in studio and independent films; and 4) children’s responses to mass media portrayals (television, film, video games) of violence, gender and hypersexuality.

Dr. Smith has written more than 75 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on content patterns and effects of the media. She has received multiple "top paper" awards for her research from the Instructional Developmental Division of the International Communication Association. In terms of the popular press, Dr. Smith’s research has been written about in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,,, The Boston Globe, and USA Today to name a few. She also has a co-edited essay in Maria Shriver’s book, A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything (2009).

Since 2005, Dr. Smith has been working with a team of undergraduate and graduate students to assess portrayals of males and females in popular media. Over two-dozen projects have been completed, assessing gender in films (e.g., 500+ top-grossing movies from 1990 to 2009, 180 Academy Award® Best Picture nominations from 1977 to 2010), TV shows (e.g., 1,034 children’s programs, two weeks of prime time shows), video games (e.g., 60 best selling), and point-of-purchase advertising (e.g., jacket covers of DVDs, video games).

Examining 5,839 characters, a recent study of 129 top grossing G, PG, and PG-13 films theatrically released between 2006 and 2011 showed that less than 30% of all on screen speaking characters are girls or women. The ratio of males to females on the silver screen is 2.53 to 1. Other findings revealed that females are still more likely than males to be depicted in a stereotypical (i.e., caregivers, romantically involved, lacking employment) and hypersexualized (i.e., sexy attire, nudity, thinness) light. Further, females are far less likely to be shown in films as holding clout and powerful positions in political (e.g., Senators, Representatives), financial (e.g., CEO, CFO, COO, GM), or legal (Supreme Count Justices) arenas.

While on screen portrayals are skewed, the percentage of females working behind-the-scenes is even more abysmal. Across 1,100 top-grossing films between 2002 and 2012, only 4.4% of directors are female. This investigation also examined the total number of unique directors after removing individuals that helmed more than one film. In comparison to the 625 unique male directors, only 41 unique females emerged across the 11-year sample. This translates into a gender ratio of 15.24 males to every 1 female director!

Smith et al.’s (2013) recent research reveals that the independent sphere is more female friendly. Commissioned by the Sundance Institute/Women in Film in Summer of 2012, Smith are her research team assessed female involvement as content creators at the Sundance Film Festival between 2002 and 2012. Across 11 years, 16.9% of all directors, 20.6% of all writers, and 29.4% of all producers of U.S. narratives are females. These percentages are all substantially higher than those found in some of Smith’s earlier work on top grossing studio films or Academy Award® Best Picture Nominated Films. The Sundance study also qualitatively explored barriers facing female directors and producers in the independent space, with gendered financial impediments, a male dominated environment, and work family conflict the three most frequently mentioned obstacles by the 51 content creators and industry thought leaders interviewed.

Given these and other similar statistics from her lab, Smith’s recent research (with Rene Weber & Marc Choueiti) has focused on the economic success at the box office of feature films with women on screen and behind-the-scenes as well as interviewing over 110 content creators (i.e., directors, writers, producers, executives, etc.) about the reasons for the under representation and hypersexualization of girls and women in popular movies. Funding for Dr. Smith’s research has come from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Sundance Institute, and See Jane.

Currently, Dr. Smith is the director of a research-driven initiative at USC Annenberg on Media, Diversity, and Social Change. The initiative produces cutting-edge, timely, and theory-driven empirical research on different entertainment-based minority groups. Roughly 20-30 undergraduate and graduate students are conducting research on gender and race in her lab each year. Educators, advocates, and activists can access and use the research to create sustainable industry change on screen and behind-the-camera.

In addition to research, Dr. Smith is passionate about teaching. She currently teaches the undergraduate COMM 203 – Introduction to Mass Communication course at USC Annenberg. Dr. Smith has been recognized for her outstanding teaching, receiving multiple awards from different constituencies on campus. She has received the Outstanding Professor Award from the Annenberg Students Communication Association three times, the Greek Professor of the Semester Award, the Golden Apple Award from Kappa Alpha Theta twice, the Professor of the Year Award from Gamma Alpha Sigma, and was recognized as an Honorary Member of Lambda Pi Eta. In 2009, Dr. Smith received the Outstanding Teacher and Mentor Award from the Parents’ Council at USC. Mortar Board at USC has also tapped her. In 2012, Dr. Smith received the Trojan League of Southern California 2012 Outstanding Service Award and the LA Woman recognition by Los Angeles Magazine.