Women Who #Inspire – USC Own It 2016


Do you ever walk around and try to imagine the futures of the people you pass?

That girl over there, she could be the next Steven Spielberg or the next Emma Stone. That boy, maybe he will make the next Oscar-winning film. Oh and that girl, she’s going to win an Emmy in a few years, I know it.

I do it all the time. But there’s just one small problem. The stats from 2015 say that for every 15.24 male film directors, there is 1 female film director. Only 25% of producers are women, 20% of editors, 17% of executive producers, 15% of writers, 9% of directors, and a whopping 2% of cinematographers.

We all know that the road to corporate success is insanely different for women compared to men. Men climb to the top but the climb for women is more of an “uphill battle,” as Miley Cyrus would say.

It’s ridiculous, it’s unfair. It’s changing and then it’s not changing.

What can we do?

Last month, I went to the USC Own It women’s leadership summit. It was this awesome day-long conference put on by students at my school with over 70 inspirational ladies and over 450 students from schools all around the area.

Throughout the day, I gathered some tips and tricks to breaking down these barriers and climbing up that ladder to success and influence with strength, power and poise. Here’s what I got:

Advice from Women in Business – Sara Clemens (COO, Pandora), Katie Stanton (VP Global Media, Twitter) Elizabeth Brownsen (Executive Director Team One), Tuula Rytilâ (Corporate VP, Microsoft), Megan Garvey (Managing Editor, LA Times)

“Take your credit! Make sure people know what you’re good at, especially at the beginning of your career.”

“Think ‘you know what I could be one day.’ To be considered, you must believe.”

“You have to make tradeoffs, not sacrifices.”

“To make yourself more comfortable sitting at the table, start a conversation with the people sitting around you before the meeting starts.”

Advice from Trailblazers in Media – Callie Schweitzer (Motto @ Times), Emma Carmichael (Editor in Chief of Jezebel), Willow Bay (Director of Journalism, Annenberg)

“Find the holes in the company and plug them.”

“Every job I’ve had has never existed until I made it.”

“What’s most important is self-awareness and how to actively listen. Instead of barging in with lots of new ideas, you can listen first.”

“A bad reason to not do something is because it will be hard.”

Advice from Women in Film – Maya Lilly (Story Producer, Amazon Studios), Lijah Barazz (executive story editor, Pretty Little Liars), Ashley Maria (Film Writer & Director)

“Remember why you want to be a filmmaker and have experiences.”

“Work harder and be better. Be the best even if you’re just getting coffee.”

“Be uncompromising in your feminine power. Do the work to prove you’re diligent and good.”

“Think about your own personal biases. Understand your coworkers as human beings.”

“You don’t need to be liked all the time.”

“Don’t be scared of how people react. What if they react badly? What if they don’t?”

Advice from Women in Entertainment – Rylee Jean Ebsen (Director of Creative Media, Snapchat), Lyndsey Parker (Managing Editor, Yahoo! Music), Tania Missad (VP Insights, Warner Bros.), Nora Skinner (SVP Original Programming, HBO)

“Do as many things as you can. Just keep doing things. Basically, never say ‘no.’”

“Figure out what your passion is and follow it.”

“Passion is when you’ll do anything to be there. What are you excited about? Link it back to one outlet.”

“Be a little bit shameless. Don’t be shy.”

“You really just have to stay positive and bright. Be nice to everyone.”

“Plow through. Don’t let people stop you.”


Sometimes, after events like this one, we have these moments of inspiration, bursts of clarity and confidence. But then we settle back into our everyday routines and it’s all pushed out to the corners of our minds.

We can’t let this happen. We have to be open to being inspired and let the excitement and hope and possibility linger and take over our bodies, myself included.

We have to cultivate the energy from the inspiration, the advice, the role models, the examples, the statistics… and own it.


Don’t have an inspiration yet? Be your own…



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