If you are a storyteller in New York City then you know that New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT)’s flagship fundraising event, the annual Muse Awards gala luncheon, is a rather big deal. This year it will take place on Tuesday, March 28th at Cipriani 42nd Street and will honor actresses Sharon Stone, Danielle Brooks, Frieda Pinto, Lauren Ridloff, and industry professionals Sandra Lee, IFC Films President Arianna Bocco, filmmaker Deborah Chow, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, and AMPAS President Janet Yang.
The award is designed to celebrate and illuminate women of outstanding vision and achievement, both in front of and behind the camera in film, television, music, and digital media. “CBS Sunday Morning” contributor, comedian, actress, and self-described “Accidental Pundette” Nancy Giles will once again serve as the event’s emcee. David Yurman, America’s foremost luxury jewelry brand, has designed and provided this year’s Muse Award statues for honorees, as well as an exclusive gift for attendees
“The party is just getting started! We at NYWIFT are thrilled to host our 43rd year of the Muse Awards back in person since COVID-19 impacted our city, our industry, and our world. And what better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than to return to celebrate this incredible roster of women that are reinventing how media is made. They are influencers on screen, behind the camera, in the newsroom, and in the executive suite – fighting for everything from the voices of women, the BIPOC community, and disabled folks to be heard, to body positivity, safety on set, awards representation, and more, not to mention creating content that has entertained and informed millions. That content not only got us through the pandemic, but it is our economic engine in the worldwide markets. You will not want to miss this party, with corporate partners like fashion icon David Yurman and many others – NYWIFT is bringing the community back together to celebrate women leaders in the media field!” said NYWIFT CEO Cynthia Lopez.
“After two years of a virtual Muse, I am excited to gather in person with my fellow NYWIFT members to celebrate an amazing slate of talented and accomplished women like Maria Hinojosa, who has been one of the journalists working tirelessly to bring diverse stories and diverse talent to public media and the news industry,” said NYWIFT Board of Directors President Leslie Fields-Cruz.
Fields-Cruzstarted at Black Public Media, formerly National Black Programming Consortium, in 2001 managing grant-making activities that supported the production and development of documentary programs for PBS. By 2005, she was the Director of Programming, leading the distribution of all funded programs to public television. In 2008, with six independent titles in need of a public television broadcast, Fields-Cruz launched “AfroPoP: The Ultimately Cultural Exchange,” a documentary series highlighting the variety and depth of the global black experience.
We caught up with the NYWIFT Board President Leslie Fields-Cruz to discuss just what the organization has been up to. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
AMSTERDAM NEWS: Mrs. Leslie Fields-Cruz what are the job responsibilities for a Board President for NYWIFT?
LESLIE FIELDS-CRUZ: What’s my function? You know? That’s actually a great question. And I think, because I run my own not-for-profit (501-C3) I understand that most are sort of owned by the board [of directors]. So that varies from the different kinds of nonprofits. In my capacity at NYWIFT, I look at my role as an opportunity to support and advocate for NYWIFT and to lift them up and make sure that the vision that Cynthia Lopez as set forth is realized and to make sure that the rest of the board, is that we are all in alignment, and we’re pushing it forward.
AMN: Got it. I think it’s important for storytellers to join. Do you agree?
LFC: We want you to join. NYWIFT can help [storytellers] no matter where you are in your career.
AMN: I was impressed with the number of programs and mentorship opportunities. Rather awesome. Tell me about the MUSE AWARDS?
LFC: Sure. We are in our 43rd year.
AMN: That’s over 40 years of helping women make strides in film and television.
LFC: Correct. This year’s MUSE Award honorees include:
IFC Films President Arianna Bocco; Award-winning actress and singer Danielle Brooks, who will receive the “Made in NY” Award presented by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; Filmmaker Deborah Chow, who will receive the Nancy Malone Directing Award; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, who will receive the inaugural Enid Roth Award for Excellence in Journalism Emmy and President’s Volunteer Service Award-winning television host, chef, and author Sandra Lee BAFTA & SAG Award-winning actress and producer Frieda Pinto; Tony Award-nominated actress Lauren Ridloff, who will receive the Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress, artist, and activist Sharon Stone, and AMPAS President Janet Yang.
AMN: Wow. This year I am joining NYWIFT.
LFC: Happy to have you.
For more info, visit NYWIFT.org.