President, HGTV & Food Network, Discovery
In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?
A Power Woman has a strong point of view, a vision for what she wants to achieve, emotional intelligence, and communicates clearly and directly. She makes the best decisions through collaboration, trust, and vulnerability.
With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about?
To be successful it’s critical to have men and women at the table–whether that table is in the board room, the production office, or on set. And, we’ve recently seen a clear and present need for more female leadership across all industries. Only then can we begin to achieve the elusive parity with our male colleagues that we have long deserved.
If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?
Medical school and residency aside, I think delivering babies would be an amazing job. I imagine having your everyday be built around one of the most magical moments in life would be an exciting, humbling, and awe-inspiring job swap.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Sydney Pollack–one of my favorite film directors–felt his calling initially was to be an actor and he moved to NYC as a teenager to pursue that goal. However, he quickly realized that he was better suited to a role behind the camera and went on to enjoy a tremendously successful career as a director and a producer. I, too, moved to NYC in pursuit of a dream–dancing–which was not meant to be, but it ultimately led me to where I am now. Kermit the Frog’s natural habitat was the swamp and he could have had a very comfortable life there, but he experienced an awakening of sorts in which he realized he could make millions of people happy if he just picked up his banjo and hitched a ride to Hollywood.
In what way do you work for women’s power and equality? What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take (e.g. affirmative action)?
I support local and national candidates that I connect with, most typically those who don’t just say they support equality, but actively work towards that goal. I believe it is a responsibility to stay informed and to engage. I’ve been involved with fundraising campaigns for female candidates who advocate for woman, minorities, and children, as well as for all those fighting for a voice.
Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block in the work place and what you did about it?
Have you seen any changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?
The United States currently ranks 104th in the world in the percentage of female legislators represented in its government. We are witnessing changes in this rather barren landscape as there are well over 500 women in both major parties running for either the U.S. House, Senate, or a Governor’s mansion. And, since women tend to be elected at the approximately same rates as men (they just don’t enter races nearly as often), chances are that 2018 will be the year we see a meaningful shift in the composition of our elected officials across the country this year.
Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?
I moved to New York right out of college with the hope of becoming a professional modern dancer. To support myself financially, I waited tables and worked as an overnight post-production assistant at Lucky Duck Productions. While I never found success in the dance world, I gained confidence in going after something I wanted and slept well at night without questioning: what if? It was the fact that I had to work unusual hours to make auditions that led me to the production work that became the basis for a very different and very fulfilling career.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
You don’t need to be right…just get it right. Don’t just talk…listen. Don’t just listen…hear.
Who do you most admire? Why?
The person I most admire is my sister. She is an art therapist. She puts real connection above all. If she only had one dollar, she wouldn’t spend it on food or clothing–she would spend it on a phone, a plane ticket, or anything that enabled her to connect with someone, whether that was a family member, a friend, or a patient.
What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?
The first titles that come to mind are Cathedral (Carver), A Confederacy of Dunces (Toole), Interpreter of Maladies (Lahiri), My Antonia (Cather), and The Best Girlfriend You Never Had (Houston).
What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, vulnerability, ability to laugh at oneself, authenticity.
Which trait do you most deplore in yourself? In others?
I’m terrible with remembering names, and it’s probably the first thing I would change about myself if I could. The trait I find most frustrating in others is when they don’t have their own point or view and/or own their decisions and point of view.
What do you consider to be the most over rated virtue?
While it’s important to be proud of work well done, it’s equally important not to let it get in the way.