2016 Honoree

Alysia Reiner

Actress, Producer & Activist

“I try to be as open as possible to everyone–regardless of religious or political affiliation. It’s my choice as an artist–and human–to WONDER, to question, and not to judge.”

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most?

I care about so many women’s issues, but at this moment, having just made EQUITY, I am most fascinated by:
* Money and equal pay/equity,
* How women treat each other, the politics of those relationships in the workplace and the ripple effect of that in the world.
* More women in leadership–like, you know…the President?

Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media? Why or why not?

Wow, that’s a loaded question, I could go on and on about forever, but the shortest answer I can give is: NO, OF COURSE NOT. IN 100 WAYS, NO! Again, this is why we made EQUITY, and I love what The Geena Davis Institute and The Representation Project do to educate people and to change this.

What specific aspect of women’s rights in the U.S. could we change to set an example to the world?

Elect a female president.

What will it take (apart from time) for women to be viewed as equal to men?

Educating our children. My seven-year-old daughter’s sense of equality is so beautiful, innocent, and precious–I work hard on maintaining it. She is seven and she has a lot to teach the world.

Whatever profession you choose, do men see women as either a female rival with independence and strength, or someone inexperienced that needs to be managed, never as an equal? How do you show your male colleagues that you are an equal without stepping on their toes?

I think we all need some of the same thing as humans. Some big ones are to feel heard, safe, and valued. That is, the only way to have any relationship–with men or women, lovers or co-workers. Every man is different, every woman different. Some men can handle women of strength, some cannot. I would say the same of women. The key is to humbly know your worth. Treat others as equals, be the change you want to see, and don’t take other people’s behavior personally. Use it as a tool to learn on a deeper level who you want to be.

Do you feel the extreme left and right wings of U.S. politics are destroying the United in United States, or is it just healthy debate?

I think extremes of any kind are not useful to discourse. Compassion and the desire to find common ground is our only solution for much of the world’s problems.

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty years ago? Do today’s young people face a bigger challenge than you did?

I wish I knew that worry is the biggest waste in the world. A “negative prayer” as some folks say. If you are going to assume something, why not assume things are going to be amazing? I also wish I knew what a bloody waste of time perfectionism is.

I think every generation has it’s own challenges and, hopefully, we are always making progress as well. I try to trust (not worry) in the world my daughter will grow up in; that we will progress in many positive ways from geo-politically to levels of tolerance and equality. It’s something I think about and work towards; it’s why I made EQUITY–to forward the conversation for women and help incite change. Let’s not worry or talk about it so much, let’s just take positive action to change things.

Do you feel that religion is on the decline in the Western World? Will it have an effect on U.S. society? If so, will it be good or bad?

I have no idea. Personally, I try to be as open as possible to everyone–regardless of religious or political affiliation. It’s my choice as an artist–and human–to WONDER, to question, and not to judge. It’s the fun of playing characters that are not like you–to find the parts of that human being you can connect and relate to. If you are so certain anything is right or wrong, it’s much harder to do that.

Can you tell us about one of the biggest challenges in your life that you think helped you become the person you are today? What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

I would have to say finding out I had a tumor at 19. It made me risk more, live more, love more, and follow my dreams.
Best decision: marrying my husband.
Worst: I don’t know, I guess if I did I never would have made it!

Who inspires you the most? If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

My daughter inspires me daily.
Dinner party: Einstein, Jung, Oprah, Gandhi, The Dali Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., and Sophocles.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Who doesn’t want to fly? Additionally, I wish my superpower could be inspiration and hope. How cool would it be instead of minding reading or super human strength to be able to inspire people to change the world, act, and live with hope?

Favorite: Book/writer? Song/singer? Movie/actor? Cuisine/dish?

I hate playing favorites!!!!

BOOKS & AUTHORS: I love books so much. SO many books mark moments of life. In my yearly years (teens) I think about everything from 100 years of Solitude, Still Life with Woodpecker, Handmaid’s Tale, The Prohpet, The Alchemist, A room of One’s Own, everything by Vonnegut, Virginia Woolf, Pema Chodron…I can go on and on. I could never pick a favorite. And, there is always a ginormous pile of more I want to read. It is so gorgeous seeing my daughter fall madly in love with books–diving into worlds, getting completely lost in them.

MUSIC: I would say the same of music. It so depends on my mood. India Irie to Joan Baez to Beyonce, Simon & Garfunkle to Rufus to EMINEM. Just as books mark moments of my life historically, music marks moods, and my favorite can change five times in a day–just as my mood does.

MOVIE: I may have to go THE PRINCESS BRIDE. I just showed it to my daughter and she loved it so much, and I quote it more than any other movie. Ever. ASSSSSYOUOOOOOOOWIIIISHHHHH.

ACTOR: I am going to have to go Meryl. Enough said, right?


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