Different times and a different world we live in made no difference on Tuesday afternoon.
35 of the Texas Women’s Foundationth the annual luncheon, presented by the Dallas Mavericks and Toyota, may have been conducted in a virtual style, but still had the same passion and the same deep message to around 1,500 viewers online.
Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall, co-chair of the event, appeared on the Zoom call with TWF President and CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson, along with Toyota’s vice president and chief procurement officer Bonnie Clinton.
The well done virtual lunch was highlighted by an extensive interview with America Ferrera, a renowned actress and activist who also published an anthology of short stories “American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures”.
It was a gathering designed to encourage, empower and motivate women and girls in Texas. The event was a huge success from all three points of view.
At the heart of Ferrera’s message, as well as Marshall’s, women must help each other overcome the fact that climbing up the executive ranks can often be lonely for women.
“One of the things that really resonated to me is when she (Ferrera) talked about being in a room with people who saw things differently, didn’t have the same background or experience and was asked to agree or to act in a way that doesn’t seem right or authentic to her, “Marshall said. “I know that today in this gigantic virtual room there are many, many of us who have had the experience of being ‘the one’. The only woman. The only black person … or the Latinx person … or the Asian person … or the indigenous person.
“And as America said, when everyone else in the room isn’t like you, it takes a lot of courage and self-awareness to do what America said it learned to do. He said: I had to learn to converse with people in a way that invited them to be part of the solution. “
Ferrera, born in Los Angeles to Honduran parents, has starred in dozens of films and television shows, including The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ugly Betty and How to Train Your Dragon. He said the challenges are even greater at this particular time in history. But so are the potential earnings.
“I think we are at a time in our history as a nation that has an unprecedented struggle – and unprecedented opportunity,” he said. “Talent is universal and opportunity is not.
“I think about how we think about inclusivity… Must be thought of not just as something that is good for someone else, but something that is good for me. When you have the power, I have the power. When you are safer, I I’m safer. And I think in this media moment we see what it looks like in real life. If my black brothers and sisters aren’t safe on the street, I’m not safe on the street.
“So our interconnectedness is really about what’s good not just for them, but for all of us. For me. So when I am out there doing something for you, it will really benefit my community and my children, the greater good. You have to invest in people so that even your greatest good can be realized. “
Ferrera said the entertainment industry is like many others. It’s not easy for women to get in and it certainly isn’t easy to climb the ranks once you step in the door.
Whether you’re an actress, director, photographer, or whatever, it’s been a journey to get women to work together, she said.
“In my industry, and I imagine it is very similar in many others, women are very isolated from each other,” Ferrera said. “You’re often the only one in the room. And the way you are trained to think of other women is as competitors and not necessarily as your compatriots, partners and sisters-in-arms who will help you change the system.
“If you’re strong and bold enough to put yourself in a position of power in a decision-making room, it’s a pretty lonely place to be as a woman in our industry because you won’t be in the room with five other people sharing your experiences. And I think it is. true for women in all professions and in all sectors “.
Marshall knows that road all too well.
“We are in a moment that requires meeting in a place of mutual respect and sitting together to work towards solutions that benefit not one, but all,” he said. “The Dallas Mavericks are fueling this wonderful event – and I’m thrilled to be co-chair – because the Texas Women’s Foundation’s vision and values, heart and soul are so close to ours. We believe in this work.
“We believe now is the time for all of us to recognize that disparities and injustice have kept some people away from the rooms where it happens, to quote Hamilton. And now it’s time for us to work together, with mutual respect and support, to ensure there is a seat in the room and a seat at the table for all Texans. “
The annual lunch had a very different vibe than last fall, when more than 1,500 people attended the event at the Hilton Anatole Hotel.
But the energy and the messages were still strong.
“The beauty of generations is that one generation makes a sacrifice so that the next generation can go further,” Ferrera said. “My parents… What they wanted for us was success and that’s what they could dream of. And now we’re at a point where we can say, what does success also mean? Does it just mean walking into the room or does it mean who you can once be. that you are in that room. “
Marshall couldn’t have agreed more.
“This is our call to action today – active,” he said. “Be the one who engages others in conversations, courageous conversations working on differences in race, gender, lived experiences and perspectives towards the goal of inviting everyone to be part of the solution. Activate, to create Texas for all “.
She closed the event with a virtual promise that she asked all attendees, wherever they were, to repeat with her:
“I will educate myself and others.
“I will activate myself for a courageous conversation.
“I will support the change that creates a stronger Texas for all.”
And he had one final request, that people donate to TWF to “make life better for Texas women and girls.”
For more information, visit https://www.txwf.org/.