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Inside The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Canada Summit: “Load Up Your Slingshot”

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Some of the entertainment industry’s leading ladies celebrated The Hollywood Reporter‘s inaugural Women in Entertainment Canada event in Toronto on Thursday.

The all-day gathering at the Park Hyatt Hotel was attended by stars like Nia Vardalos, Lilly Singh, director Kari Skogland, Devery Jacobs and Catherine Reitman. “I’m not sure what the requirements are for being an icon, but I’m 67, and I’m rocking with that,” Kim Cattrall said when accepting the Icon Award at the WIE Canada Tribute Awards.

“Congratulations to all the other honorees. It’s amazing what women can do when we come together,” the Sex in the City star added. The event, which coincided with the publication of the Canadian Women’s Power List, focused on driving efforts to achieve gender equity and career breakthroughs for Canadian women in front and behind the camera.

“Load up your slingshot. Put three rocks in there. Have the conversation,” actor and R&B singer Jully Black said on a WIE Summit panel on gender parity. The conversation discussed opening up on set and in other industry workplaces about bringing about a more inclusive entertainment landscape.

During Thursday’s gala, Jeanie Pyun, deputy editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, welcomed each of the 42 women on the inaugural Canadian Women’s Power List onto the stage to rapturous applause. “We are delighted to recognize the achievements of a diverse group of powerhouse women who lead all aspects of the Canadian industry,” Pyun told the audience.  

A Power List member, Valerie Creighton, president and CEO of the Canada Media Fund, received the Glass Ceiling award for having broken a few barriers during her long career as a key TV series financier. “Through my work, I’ve had the privilege to travel the world and in every province and territory in Canada. I’ve met the most inspiring, extraordinary people as we walked our paths together. Many of you are in this room,” Creighton said when accepting her WIE Canada Tribute Award.

Reservation Dogs star and writer Devery Jacobs, another Power List member who was on hand to receive the Impact Award at the gala, said she had initial reservations about accepting the WIE Canada trophy because of the historical treatment of her country’s Indigenous communities, of which she is a part.

“Our relationship with Canada has been, let’s say, fraught, and it’s a dynamic that has bled into this industry for a very, very long time,” Jacobs said. But, ultimately, she accepted the Impact Award for allowing her to follow in the footsteps of earlier Indigenous women who have been pioneers in the entertainment industry.

“I aspire to be like these women and women with us in the room tonight, the women who hold it down, who make it happen and who deserve to be celebrated for the trailblazers they are,” Jacobs declared.

The inaugural WIE Canada summit brought together the Canadian industry across television, film and music to celebrate and recognize the achievements of women who are driving the industry forward and into global markets.  

Director and actor Karena Evans, receiving the Breakthrough Award and thanking her mother and grandmother for always encouraging her career, reflected in her own speech that “feeling seen is one of my favorite emotions, and so thank you for this really, really profound gift.”

While receiving the Equity in Entertainment Award during the gala, director Deepa Mehta made it a purpose to reflect on everything happening in Gaza and dedicated her honor to Palestinian filmmaker Najwa Najjar.

“I cannot stand here today without addressing the horrific violence in Gaza,” she said. “It’s deeply heartbreaking.”

Telefilm Canada executive director and CEO Julie Roy was also on hand to unveil plans for THR’s upcoming WIE Canada mentorship program.

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