Gaining Inspiration from an International Women of Change
We created the International Woman of Change Award to highlight the dedication and efforts of one woman with outstanding achievements in using her platform to“ellevate” other women.
She has used her social, political, or financial capital to create a more equitable and just world.
In 2018, Debra Messing was the inaugural winner of this Award and brought the audience to a standing ovation after her acceptance speech.
This year, we were honored to have Academy Award Winning Production Designer Hannah Beachler (Beek-ler) as our International Woman of Change. Hannah's work has shown countless people that women are strong, independent, smart, and successful, and that diverse voices are not just a part of conversations but leading them.
Hannah is the woman behind the incredible production design in Black Panther, which means it was her brilliant mind that helped bring Wakanda to life on the big screen. Knowing that the set had to reflect both African-American and African cultures, she went looking for the right African influences to incorporate—“the countries, tribes, languages, geography, economics, militaries, and more.” As we talk about allyship and empathy, I hope we can all learn from Hannah and the power of listening, watching, and understanding others so as to create new and better worlds.
I admire Hannah’s values-driven process, as she said,
I just kept creating a place where there was a sense of agency, where the people did not carry the weight of their skin color on them, where the future was their past and is their present.
You may also know Hannah her from her work on Oscar-winning film Moonlight, Beyonce's Lemonade, Fruitvale Station and Creed. Hannah made history this year when, after nine decades of the Oscars, she was the first Black person to be nominated in the category of Best Production Design, as well as the first Black person/Black woman to win.
Her Academy Award is not just a testament to her talents in production design, but a testament to breaking the glass ceiling for all those hungry for representation, for intersectionality, and for equity. Hannah has paved the way for many to come after her and shown women and girls that their best is enough.
In her acceptance speech, Hannah shared a story about when her son was young and he questioned how he could possible change the world. This made Hannah start thinking about how one person changes anything, and she came to realize that,
I am not defined by the struggles of my community. I am defined by my response and the actions I take.
I found this to be so powerful. To think about how each of us has so much power to create change simply by the things we do every day.
Hannah went on to inspire everyone through her statement:
My response to racism and bigotry is to take the road not traveled. My action is to pursue my dream without hesitation or fear. To put myself in spaces where one normally wouldn’t find someone who looks like me. And then to announce in the only way that I can that I am here, and you will get used to it because you will see more women who look like me… My response to sexism and misogyny is to use my voice beyond the art that I create. To not just break the ceiling but to throw myself against the wall until the building falls, so that we can rebuild and redesign the structure that has caused harm to so many for far too long. My action is giving the most precious thing that we can give: time. One person can change the world just as easily as one person can destroy it.
YES! Thank you Hannah. One person can change the world. I’m going to do this today and every day moving forward.
Will you join me?
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Kristy Wallace is the CEO of Ellevate Network, and is responsible for executing Ellevate Network’s mission to close the gender achievement gap in business by providing professional women with a global community to lean on and learn from. She directs the Network’s staff, is responsible for business growth and strategy, and works closely with Ellevate's Chapter Leaders, Business Partners, and Champions to further Ellevate's impact. Kristy is host of the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations with Women Changing... Continue Reading
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