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5 kickass moments for women at the Golden Globes

Who watched the Golden Globes Sunday night?

I’m not a big fan of award shows. Honestly, I only watch them to enjoy the entertainment or the fashion. I like movies and television, but often I sit down to watch my PVR shows months, or even years, after they were cool. This year, however, I watched the Golden Globes for another reason — I wanted to see the impact of the TIME’S UP Campaign.

Last week, women within the entertainment industry joined forces with activists, lawyers, and farmworkers, to form the initiative TIME’S UP, which will fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces. They called for everyone attending the Golden Globes to wear black in solidarity.

It was also the first award show to be broadcast since the #MeToo campaign picked up force last year. This led to some highly political, and inspirational moments. Even host Seth Meyers began his monologue with the following statement: “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen. It’s 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed, and sexual harassment finally isn’t.”

Here are the top moments for women at the Golden Globes:

Oprah’s speech: Oprah Winfrey was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement, making her the first black woman to receive it. If this wasn’t enough, in typical Oprah fashion, she stood up and presented a 10-minute speech about race, women, and inspiration that resulted in numerous standing ovations.

I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military…For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.

Here are all the male nominees: While presenting the award for best director, Actress Natalie Portman added in a very poignant line: “And here are the all-male nominees.” Female directors don’t often get nominated for their work, and this year was no exception (surprising considering TIME’S UP). There were three female directors who helped produce some amazing films this year — Greta Gerwig; Ladybird, Des Rees; Mudbound, and Patty Jenkins; Wonder Woman — who at least deserved a nomination. Portman’s unexpected ad-lib was the talk of the Internet.

The Handmaiden’s Tale: Elizabeth Moss won best actress for her role in The Handmaiden’s Tale, based off the novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The series takes place in a dystopian future in which America women are enslaved and forced to act as child bearers following a fertility pandemic. Women are treated as lower beings, torn from their families, raped, and forced to serve higher men. Season two of The Handmaiden’s Tale is set to be released in April. “Margaret Atwood, this is for you and all of the women who came before you, and after you, who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice and to fight for equality and freedom in this world,” she said. The show, which was filmed in Toronto, also won for best television series. The director thanked everyone for working hard to make sure the show doesn’t become a reality.

A sea of black attire: TIME’S UP called for celebrities to wear black to the Golden Globes, and they responded in force! I can count the number of people not wearing black on one hand — at least from what I saw. This also included men, many of whom were wearing the TIME’S UP pin, the must-have “political accessory” of the awards show, as the New York Times called it.

The anti-celebs: There were some faces on the red carpet most people didn’t recognize. They were the activists, lawyers, and farm workers. They were the women who don’t typically get their photo taken or have their names printed in the papers. A number of celebrities chose to bring one of these women as their special guest, providing them with a platform to discuss their causes. Here were the activists present on the red carpet:

  • Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a British network of organizations working to end violence against black and minority women.
  • Tarana Burke, senior director of the nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity.
  • Saru Jayaraman, a workplace-justice advocate for restaurant workers.
  • Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
  • Monica Ramirez, who fights sexual violence against farmworkers.
  • Rosa Clemente,  Puerto Rican activist & journalist.
  • Billie Jean King, founder of the Women’s Tennis Association.
  • Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer and activist for Native American treaty and water rights.

It did feel a little strange to be honest, to have celebrities parade around with an activist on their arm, almost as if they were saying “see, I’m helping too!” At the same time, it provided these women with a platform to speak during primetime.

All in all, not too shabby for a few hours of late night television.

Featured Image provided by NBC.

What did you think of the Glden Globes? Let us know in the comments below!

Oscars’ best picture win will reflect what society stands for today

Films often reflect societal views; confronting current issues and using the artistic power of the lens to capture history. Watching someone perform on film brings out various elements of the human condition and can hold incredible sway over the viewer. Thus, to celebrate such artistic feats, the Oscars emerged as one of the most highly viewed awards shows of the year.

In the last few years, the Oscars have been criticized for favouring films with ‘white’ actors, even producing a popular hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. This year, the nominations strayed from the ‘white’s-only’ club to include several strong contenders with leading roles for people of colour. Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins, is a film that follows a young gay man through his childhood, teen years, and adulthood, and touches on various issues that affect the African American community in the United States today. This film is a front-runner to win Best Picture, with seven other nominations as well. Another nominated film with leading roles for people of colour is Fences, directed by Denzel Washington, is a film that explores the intergenerational trauma of racism and a father’s inability to help his son succeed because of his own failed success. The third film that touches on African American themes is Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi, and is based on the true story of a group of African American women that worked for NASA and helped the first space mission launch in the 1960s.

La La Land, a musical directed by Damien Chazelle, is nominated for 14 awards and many expect this film to win best picture. The musical focuses on Hollywood and the struggles that come with stardom. The musical score in this film happens to be phenomenal. Lion, by Garth Davis, arguably has one of the most unique storylines and is based on the true story of a boy adopted from India who used google earth to find his family after he was lost as a child. The tear-jerker of the year is Manchester by the Sea, directed by Kenneth Lonergan, that explores how losing one’s children can destroy you as a person.

Many critics believe that La La Land will win Best Picture because a) it is a fantastic film, b) has won several other awards already and c) was well-received by the academy. A rising sentiment is being whispered among film buffs though that Moonlight will take the crown. Since President Donald Trump has come into power, there has been a growing protest movement in Hollywood that opposes his racist, xenophobic and otherwise extremist right-wing ideologies. A new unified movement in the film community is rising up against the racist and islamophobic reign of terror that has overtaken the United States. Due to the societal convictions of the progressive left, Moonlight should win — also because it is a wonderfully touching film that deserves the recognition.

Though La La Land captures the heart of film and music and has beautiful cinematographic references, Moonlight represents the United States as it currently stands today. Jenkins’ manages to take the struggles of being black in America today and turns it into an art piece. This film offers an opportunity for a person of any ethnicity, age, or religion to step into the role of being a young, gay, African American boy, and it is when the leading character Chiron pauses in silence, that you can feel years of black history and oppression being played out one scene at a time.

No matter what, this year’s Oscar win for best picture will undoubtedly be representative of what Hollywood cares really about — whether that be ignoring reality and embracing the sublime in La La Land or facing the visceral reality of how society has failed people of colour in America in Moonlight. Tune in Sunday, Feb. 26th at 8:30 E.S.T. to find out.

The women who stole the Golden Globes

Okay, I know no one really cares about the Golden Globes, but I’m going to talk about it anyway. The Golden Globes is like the Oscars, but with more booze. Actors and musicians line the read carpet in hopes of being honoured by the Canadian Foreign PressAward. In the middle of the show, they get up, drink wine and/or champaign, and have a few laughs with their fellow celebrity-people.

To be honest, it’s not my favourite awards show, but it is getting increasingly more interesting. The focus of the night is no longer strictly about what the hottest stars are wearing (well, maybe a bit), but it’s also about the political statement they want to make that night. For this particular show

First of all, let’s talk about Meryl Streep, recipient of theCecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement. The award, which is absolutely well-deserved, was followed with an acceptance speech that summed up Hollywood’s fears and concerns following the American election. The words Hollywood, foreign, and press, Streep said, are all being vilified right now. With poise and elegance, Streep then launched into a speech that touched on so many critical elements of humanity that it proved once again why she is so deserving of the lifetime achievement award.

“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said. “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

She also plugged the Committee to Protect Journalists, saying that journalists need protection so they can continue to dedicate their lives to sharing truths and keeping people of power accountable.

Rachel Wood, who was nominated for her role on HBO’s Westworld, strutted the red carpet wearing a custom suit by Altuzarra. While many women opt for a suit rather than a dress, Wood is not usually one of them. She says she has worn dresses to every award show before this one, but she wanted to make sure young girls knew it wasn’t a requirement.

“And I love dresses, I’m not trying to protest dresses, but I wanted to make sure that young girls and women knew they aren’t a requirement. And that you don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to, and to just be yourself because your worth is more than that. So this year I said I’m going as an homage to Marlene Dietrich and Victor Victoria, and David Bowie because it’s his birthday.”

Tracee Ellis Ross won an award for best actress in a comedy television show (Black-Ish) and gave a very simple and elegant acceptance speech. She dedicated the award to “all of the women, women of colour and colourful people whose stories, ideas and thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important.”

And then there was Claire Foy, who won for best actress in a drama TV series for her role as Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown.  In her acceptance speech she thanked Queen Elizabeth for her inspiration. “I think the world could do with a few more women at the centre of it, if you ask me.”

And these were just the highlights.

The 2017 Golden Globes wasn’t the best awards show I’ve seen, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. At least the actors and actresses were given the opportunity to discuss causes close to their heart and make this awards show into more than just an opportunity to wear outrageous dresses and diamond jewelry. And for that, I’m thankful.

Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany wins Emmy for Orphan Black

There were a lot of good things that came from Sunday night’s Emmy’s — but for me, the most exciting was that Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany won an award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.

Yes! I am a part of the Clone Club fan base and I’m not afraid to shout it from the rooftop. But, more specifically, I am a huge fan of Tatiana Maslany.

Maslany plays over 10 different characters in the hit sci-fi television show Orphan Black. Her characters are all clones, but they lead unique and separate lives. They have individual looks, accents, and personalities. Maslany’s ability to make the audience actually believe she is playing different people is what makes her deserving of this award — in fact, I find it hard to believe that it has taken this long.

Not only does Orphan Black create a realistic and frightening portrayal of a world in which evolution can be hand-picked and where sentient beings are considered intellectual property, but it also deals with a number of gender-specific issues that a lot of television shows steer away from. Maslany has played a hot-tempered, single mom from London, England; an American police detective with a drug addiction; a traditional (but scary) soccer mom; a lesbian nerd and geneticist; a tortured Ukrainian assassin; and even a transgendered male. And that is just a list of SOME of the clones within the series. It seems every few episodes a new character is introduced into the plot.

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These characters not only fight to gain their independence and freedom from their creators, but they also represent strong and capable women (and men). What I love about the show is they don’t shove these gender roles, or rather the lack thereof, in your face. LGBTQ characters like clone Cosima and adopted brother Felix are simply there, existing along with everyone else, fighting for the same cause.

That may seem like a strange statement — to say that these characters are “simply existing.” But, in many television shows, writers will use LGBTQ characters as a way to introduce gay-or-lesbian-specific problems or conflicts. They stand out, becoming the quintessential and/or token “gay” or “lesbian” personas.

That is not the case in Orphan Black. If a character is gay, it’s considered a fact. That’s it. Instead of making their gender or sexual orientation a part of the plot, the show focuses on the larger storyline — keeping your family safe and implications of genetic manipulation.

And that’s how it should be.

Even Maslany, who has been nominated twice for the award, acknowledged this powerful part of her role during her acceptance speech. “I feel so lucky to be part of a show that puts women at the center,” she said amid her thank you’s.

I am overjoyed that Maslany has finally received the recognition she deserves for her role in Orphan Black. Every episode I watch, I find that I’m admiring her talents more and more. I don’t know another actress who is able to play such a variety of characters with such intensity, passion, and ability — and all within 45 minutes of television.

So, without risking spoilers, let me just say this: Maslany, congratulations on your Emmy! It is well deserved.

Meet YWCA Toronto’s 2016 Women of Distinction

Half of the federal government’s Cabinet is made up of women, but 90 per cent of women do not report sexual abuse. Investment in community infrastructure is on the agenda again, but in Toronto alone, there are 95,000 households on the social housing waiting list.

While it would be wrong to claim there has been little or no improvement on so-called “women’s issues,” it would be equally erroneous to suggest that continued progress is inevitable, especially for women and girls living in poverty, fear, and isolation. The work to secure equality and social justice remains an ongoing challenge. That’s why we need to support associations like YWCA Toronto.

For 140 years, YWCA Toronto has provided shelter and support to those seeking refuge from violence and abuse; offered training and resources to help women into jobs and out of poverty; increased participation and empowerment among girls; and advocated for a fairer and more equitable society.

Over the past year alone, more than 6,000 women received training, job-seeking assistance and links to community resources through YWCA Toronto’s employment and skills development centres. More than 900 women and their families found permanent homes through YWCA Toronto and 1,300 women and their children were able to escape and recover from violence. Working together, YWCA Toronto was able to help 1,000 more women and young girls than the previous year.

YWCA Toronto has also played host to the launch of the provincial government’s Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Harassment; advocated for better child care, poverty reduction and national housing strategies; and called for action on Truth and Reconciliation recommendations, among other things.

YWCA Toronto recognizes that these results can only happen if women work together. For the past 35 years, YWCA Toronto has honoured extraordinary women who have worked tirelessly to make a difference for women and girls across the city, country, and the globe.

More than 200 women have received a Women of Distinction Award since the first awards ceremony in 1981. They are game changers in their respective fields – law, education, health, culture and the arts, politics, environment, international development and corporate leadership. These women have used their talent to improve the lives of other women and young girls, and helped raise awareness about inequities in local, national, and international communities, and create systemic change.

See for yourself. On May 26 YWCA Toronto is hosting the 2016 Women of Distinction Awards ceremony – the organization’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Proceeds support the over 30 programs that serve more than 12,000 women and families in the Greater Toronto area.

There will be eight women receiving the honour of a Woman of Distinction award. These women are truly awe-inspiring:

Roberta L. Jamieson (President’s Award) First Nations leader, highly acclaimed public figure and CEO of Indspire, Roberta has spent five decades in numerous breakthrough positions advocating for change and justice for Indigenous people and Canada.

Tessa Hill and Lia Valente (Young Women of Distinction) Tessa Hill and Lia Valente were 13 when they took on rape culture as a documentary project and turned it into a successful public campaign bringing sexual consent into Ontario’s health education curriculum.

Colleen Johnston (Corporate Leadership) This senior executive from TD Bank Group and women’s leadership guru has successfully championed for stronger representation of women in corporate leadership, which helped to significantly increase the number of women in TD’s executive ranks.

Georgia Quartaro (Education) Georgia created innovative education programs and violence-against-women training that reaches women and marginalized groups who have experienced trauma and responds to their needs and potential.

Reeta Roy (International Development) Reeta Roy saw that opportunities and conditions for girls and women farmers in African countries were disturbingly unequal to men’s. The MasterCard Foundation she heads guarantees that at least 50 percent of program participants are women and girls.

Elizabeth Shilton (Law and Justice) Elizabeth argued before the Supreme Court to uphold the rape shield law; won a pay equity case ending wage inequities; defended the right of sexual assault survivors to keep their names out of the public eye; and prevented the disclosure of counselling records of sexual abuse survivors.

Dr. Cheryl Wagner (Health) When HIV/AIDS first hit women, Dr. Cheryl Wagner was one of the first – and few – Toronto physicians to whom they could turn for expertise, help and health care. She extended her work to include researching and advocating for services to address their distinct needs.

Celebrate these women and what they have accomplished! To get your tickets to the exciting event at The Carlu (444 Yonge St.), visit www.womenofdistinction.ca.

Here are the women rockin’ the upcoming Junos

Canadian bands and musicians are flooding Western Canada in preparation for the upcoming Junos Awards and the accompanying week-long festival. On April 3, the 45th Junos will be held at the Calgary Saddledome, and many amazing Canadian women are in the running for awards. Personally, I’m looking forward to watching Buffy Sainte-Marie perform along with several other talented Canadian musicians.

Alongside the Junos, Junofest will run from March 28 to April 3 brings together local musical acts alongside Juno nominees across venues in the city. In preparation for this show-stopping event, I went down to check out the Juno Hub, a pop-up shop (824 8th St. S.W) dedicated to all things Juno. The first thing I noticed was the displays from nominees and past Juno award winners that decorated the walls. Upon entering, classic rock musician Buffy Sainte-Marie’s dress was being showcased. Drake’s shoes were also in the window display, having been sent from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto for the occasion. An outfit from Russell Peters was in the shop and shoes from hip-hop artist K-OS were also showcased.

This year’s Junofest will include some amazing performances by 36?, Milk&Bone, Lucette and The Wet Secrets. Calgary is also hosting the Juno Photography Exhibition and the Juno Tour of Canadian Art, which includes art selections by past Juno winners, including 54-40 and The Trews.

I combed through the award nominees, specifically focusing on the female talent being showcased. Classic rock artist Buffy Sainte-Marie has a double nomination for contemporary roots album of the year and as well as aboriginal album of the year. She is one of the headliners at the Junos and her performance is sure to impress. Sainte-Marie originally hails from the Piapot Cree First Nations Reserve in Qu’Appelle Valley, S.K., and is a renowned aboriginal rights activist.

Long-time Canadian band, Metric, led by front woman Emily Haines, has been nominated for group of the year. Walk Off the Earth with singer Sarah Blackwood has been nominated for pop album of the year. Alessia Cara is a popular contender, being nominated for both breakthrough artist of the year and R&B/ Soul recording of the year.

Heavy metal band, Diemonds, which is frontlined by female rocker Priya Panda, has also been nominated for heavy metal album of the year. Diemonds is a well-loved metal band in Toronto and one of the few all-female metal bands in the country.

I hope that some of these female musicians take the win at the Junos this year.  It is important to remember how hard it is (even today) for women to climb up in the industry, especially in the male-dominated heavy metal genre. Fingers crossed for the women involved, and even if they don’t win, supporting Canadian female music year-round may lead them to a Juno in the future.