Cynthia López, is the Executive Director of the New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) which advocates for equality in the moving image industry and supports women in every stage of their careers by illuminating their achievements, presenting training and professional development programs, awarding scholarships and grants, and providing access to a supportive community of peers. López is an Emmy, Peabody and duPont-Columbia Award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
NYWIFT is having their 20th anniversary of its Designing Women Awards, co-presented by Variety, on Tuesday, June 11th at the Directors Guild of America Theater. Designing Women celebrates the alchemy of design, character and story by honoring distinguished costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists in moving image media, and is attended by designers, actors, producers, directors, writers, and fashion industry leaders. The 2019 ceremony, will feature costume displays from Game of Thrones and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
We had a conversation with Cynthia, here are the excerpts:
What are your thoughts on the current state of women in film and television?
We are making strides, but we still have a way to go. NYWIFT has always believed in the power of community and women supporting one another. As we continue to grow our advocacy efforts we look forward to engaging with women across all levels of the industry.
What has been your personal experience working with NYWIFT and what does it mean?
As a New Yorker that was born and raised here, New York City has always been my home. My career trajectory has not been traditional. I have worked in public and municipal access, worked as a library advocate raising money for the poorest libraries in the country, and spent the better part of 14 years at public television at American Documentary | POV collaborating with the country’s most distinguished documentary makers. Next, I worked as commissioner of media and entertainment for the NYC Mayor’s Office assisting industry to do their best work in NYC. Now at NYWIFT my hopes are to use my skills to address the issues of our time – women need jobs, pay equity, and foster new pathways to the industry for diverse people.
What’s your message to young and upcoming women storytellers?
In order to survive in this industry – you need to have passion for the content (script or documentary) and tenacity – sheer will to survive. And be willing to accept a “no” and then move on to see where you can get a “yes.” I always say to myself when I don’t get the YES to grant or the opportunity: It is no for right now today not indefinitely. Never take decisions out that are out of your control personally.
As a television executive, it was important for us at POV /PBS to take creative risks and to invest in women that had unique perspectives and were tenacious – many documentaries can take 5-8 Years to make. You need to have willpower to stick with the project no matter how long it takes to raise the money for it.
How can people support the organization?
Donate to NYWIFT scholarship money: Support scholarships for women to go to communications, business and film school
Connect us to foundations and corporate partners
Volunteer at NYWIFT
What is NYWIFT and what are your future plans?
New York Women in Film & Television is an association of professional women working in the moving image industry. Our members are producers, directors, independent filmmakers, gaffers, grips, lighting crew, editors, writers, actors, accountants, television and studio executives that work very diligently every day to produce, distribute and promote media that is made not only in New York but throughout the country.
The organization just had its 40th anniversary, and a big part of our mission is celebrating women’s accomplishments. We do this in three ways:
Women Behind the Scenes Party – a certificate is given to a woman working in a behind the scenes crew position, sometimes to someone well-established, sometimes to someone on the rise. In partnership with Company 3, we recognize one woman per year and celebrate in New York style at the Company 3 rooftop at their headquarters location in Chelsea. This year we gave the award to Evin Lowe, a gaffer.
Designing Women celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year and we recognize individual costume designers, hair and makeup designers along with the Variety ensemble award, which is given to the full team from an NYC production. This year we are thrilled to host the awards at the Directors Guild of America Theater for the first time ever on June 11, 2019, and we encourage your audience to attend. Tickets are still available online on www.nywift.org/design.
Muse Awards - In 2019 our Muse Awards honoring women of vision and achievement will be held at the Midtown Hilton on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. Last year we celebrated: Sarah Jessica Parker, director Tricia Brock, Ellen Burstyn, Netflix VP Lisa Nishimura, and comedian and activist Maysoon Zayid were among those that received awards.
Who can Join NYWIFT: Anyone that has professional experience in the television and film industry. Please visit NYWIFT.org/join for our guidelines.
NYWIFT is a professional association of women in the industry including cinematographers, directors, producers, writers, actors, indie filmmakers, television executives, gaffers, agents, attornies, accountants and editors.
NYWIFT is part of an extensive network of women in the industry globally. There are 50 chapters -- NYWIFT is the largest one with 2400 members.
Additionally, you can also listen to full interview conversation at the link below