Road to Designing Women: The Beginning

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Designing Women 2012 presenter Tina Fey (center) with honorees Jenn Jorge Nelson (left) and Julie Teel. (Photo credit: Eileen Miller)

“The inspired work done by each honoree bringing to life unforgettable characters on the big and small screen serves as a shining example of the incredible creative vision of women in the entertainment industry.”

That quote, from NYWIFT’s executive director Terry Lawler, was the driving philosophy that launched NYWIFT’s Designing Women Awards in 2000.

It was a busy year for New York Women in Film & Television. Thirteen hundred people attended NYWIFT’s other big event celebrating women in entertainment: the Muse Awards, which honored actor Annette Bening, former Lifetime president/CEO Carole Black, actor/writer Madhur Jaffrey, and composer Rachel Portman. That same year, NYWIFT also began implementing its strategic plan, including advocating on the behalf of women in the industry.

Designing Women sprung from the idea to host a panel series on costume, hair, and makeup careers in entertainment. Muriel (Mike) Peters, former NYWIFT VP of Programming, brought her idea to NYWIFT’s Board. “I felt these professions were under-appreciated,” Peters says.

The Board responded with enthusiasm and the idea shifted into something bigger: the Designing Women Awards. “Needless to say, I’m delighted with the way in which the event has grown over the years,” she adds.

“We started Designing Women to honor below-the-line professionals,” says Marcie Setlow, former NYWIFT board president (2000-2003). “It gives us the opportunity to recognize a broader range of women whose work is demanding, important, and creative, but perhaps not as high-profile as it should be.“ — MIMI SPILLANE

Designing Women 2013 will be held at The McGraw Hill Building (1221 Avenue of the Americas) on May 23 at 7 pm, followed by a reception. Member price is $75, nonmembers $150. Proceeds from ticket sales go to NYWIFT’s nonprofit educational programs. Buy tickets.

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