When you’re young, you’re fearless. If you want to do something, you take the leap without considering the risk or the predetermined societal roadblocks. Until one day, you’re told you can’t do something based on your gender, appearance, sexuality, or physical ability—not because of your qualifications or skills. So, when we meet people who still mirror that confidence and grit, it’s nothing short of inspirational—and we want to celebrate them. This summer, we raised the roof to shine a big spotlight on the individuals we admire who are taking the lead in all aspects of their lives.
To do that, we took to the road for a special trip up the California coast with our friends at STARZ and Chandon. We brought our communities together for a stellar Summer Speaker Series in some of our favorite cities: San Francisco, San Diego, and C&C’s home turf—Los Angeles! These special evenings celebrated the incredible talent in front of and behind the camera of several STARZ Original Series including Vida, American Gods, Outlander, and The Rook. The powerhouse women joined the stage to discuss pushing your craft forward, changing stigmas in the entertainment industry, and what drives them to take the lead on their own lives.
Nights filled with mic drop moments, yummy drinks, and tasty treats? That’s right. We hope you were there to enjoy, but if you couldn’t make it, tune in to see what you missed from our summer adventures with people who really take the lead and push the status quo. You won’t want to miss this one. And be sure to check out more crafty quotes from bubbly conversations during our Summer Speaker Series in partnership with Chandon.
Mishel Prada | Actor, Vida
Ser Anzoátegui | Actor, Vida
Roberta Colindrez | Actor, Vida
Chelsea Rendon | Actor, Vida
Pauline Lhote | Head Winemaker, Chandon
Ashlee Marie Preston | Media Personality, Civil Rights Activist & Creator of #ThriveOver35 Campaign
Jaclyn Johnson | Founder and CEO, Create & Cultivate
“As I keep going I’ll keep learning.”
—Ser Anzoátegui | Actor, Vida
On being a female, Latina actor…
“Taking your own agency and finding worth within yourself. You’re constantly walking around being like ‘am I enough? Please, say I’m enough.’”
“I was a classic example of someone who ‘wasn’t Latina enough’ or ‘too Latina’. I couldn’t get an agent because they already had one ethnically ambiguous person on their roster and most of the time they weren’t Latina.”
On defining her own worth...
“My dream now is to get a seat at that table where I can define my own worth instead of feeling like I need that Oscar to define my worth.”
On her role and the show’s real-life connections...
“My character is a part of this group called ‘Vigilantes’ which is an anti-gentrification group which is anti-displacement, anti-white man coming in and taking over our homes. I grew up in the neighborhood where we film so I could really connect to it in the sense that I’m seeing it happen.”
“We hear it in the news and in an article, but we don’t actually see the family that’s being displaced. With Vida, they’re humanizing that a little bit.”
On pushing through challenges...
“Sometimes I get my feelings hurt when someone’s like ‘are you ever going to play someone whose not gay?’ I should be proud of the fact that I can play people who are gay repeatedly and totally different even if the differences aren’t obvious.”
On redefining what a hero is…
“My goal in life is to flip the script on who gets to be a hero to who. I don’t think just white guys in capes can be heroes to children of all colors and shapes and shit. I think maybe a brown queer girl could be a hero to a straight white man.”
“Keep going. I want to learn what potential I have and to not have fear. As I keep going I’ll keep learning. And by doing that, I can set the example that you can do it too.”
“My solo performance was my ability to express my gender and to discover what I am. I’m still in the process of that.”
“Even if you don’t have a mentor, look for people in your life that tell you not to compare yourself to others. I think it’s really easy to rely on having an example of how to be.”
On leading change by example....
“Sometimes it’s okay to be the first and it doesn’t mean you have to be the only one. But if you’re the first, it means that’s a huge honor.”
On starting a career from scratch...
“There was never one person I could relate to that was a woman leading a sparkling company. So, not having that vision was always very difficult.”
“For me, it was about perseverance and showing that I can do it. It’s about tenacity. And now I feel like I can actually represent women and help women to get into this position.”
On the importance of diversity for success...
“I feel like as a woman, I’m able to understand my consumer better and can relate to them.”
“Diversity on the team as well. Whether it’s men and women or cultural diversity. It brings new ideas. Like in terms of developing a new product. I feel like we’re able to brainstorm a little bit better.”
“Bringing in diversity for me is very, very important.”
“My goal is to inspire and encourage people to believe in themselves.”
On intersectionality and it’s complexities...
“For those who may not know, intersectionality describes multiple threats of discrimination when an individual’s identity overlaps with multiple marginalized groups.”
“As a black trans woman, I never experience discrimination on a single axis.”
“I experience everything at the intersection of race, gender, socio economic disparity so I felt like all the cards were stacked against me.”
On proper representation and humanization....
“The girls that looked like me were on an adult entertainment sites or they were standing on the local corner by the donut shop.”
“I got really sick and tired of people presenting us as these hyper-sexualized characters that existed to satisfy a man’s libido. We’re so much more than that.”
“Even though I didn’t get that kind of mentorship, I get to show people what the possibilities look like.”
On being unapologetically one’s self...
“Don’t be afraid to take up space. You should never have to shrink your fatness, your blackness, your brownness, your transness, your queerness.”
“You deserve to hold and occupy whatever space you want to be in.”
Olivia Munn | Actor, The Rook
Emma Greenwell | Actor, The Rook
Joely Richardson | Actor, The Rook
Yetide Badaki | Actor, American Gods
Devery Jacobs | Actor, American Gods
Sacha Strebe | Editorial Director, Create & Cultivate
“I believe in the storytelling world we live in.”
Yetide Badaki | Actress, American Gods
On life learnings...
“We can’t control the things that are gonna happen in our life. I can only control the things I do in that moment.”
“I’ve said it before: the biggest thing is standing up for what you believe in.”
“The things you love can’t be taken away from you—my mom’s respect, my mom’s love, my self worth—no one can take that away from you.”
On being an actress....
“I chose roles where the characters are innately strong, and that’s just a personal choice.”
“I was never white enough to play the white roles or Asian enough to play the Asian roles.”
“I would much rather play the one scene as the grocery store clerk than the wife.”
On choosing her career path...
“It’s pretty lonely, fighting for what you want to do.”
“My family wasn’t that pleased initially when I told them that I wanted to be an actress.”
On false stereotypes…
“There’s a stereotype that women are against each other.”
“Ignorance is not a defense and it’s not an excuse.”
On being stronger together…
“Remember that we’re all sharing this planet together.”
On life learnings…
“Stay humble and stay teachable. You want to play the long game, not the short game.”
“Failure is so important. That's how we expand.”
“No one wants to be a perfect shiny person—you want to be well-rounded.”
“Really good bosses care about their team.”
On present day status…
“In all seriousness, we are living in a time where black and brown women are being told to go back to where they came from.”
On the importance of storytelling with acting…
“There is a counter narrative that has a much stronger heartbeat and we get to speak to that through our storytelling.”
“We get to address some of these issues in a way that might be a little bit more palatable for some people.”
On when she is most confident…
“When I am falling into love, the moment I start to realize that I can feel, and feel deeply—the fact that it connects me to everyone.”
On her career path…
“I had this moment where I was like ‘why am I waiting for other people to tell my story?’”
“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
On when she feels most confident…
“When I’m at home in my underwear, I just made an amazing meal for me and my partner, and we don't shame ourselves for what are putting in our bodies.”
Karen Bailey | Senior Vice President, Programming, STARZ
Emma Frost | Executive Producer and Showrunner for The Spanish Princess, STARZ
Melissa Barrera | Actor, VIDA
Lindsey Simcik and Krista Williams | Co-founders, Almost 30 podcast
Sacha Strebe | Editorial Director, Create & Cultivate
“There is no ‘its too late.’”
—Melissa Barrera | Actor, VIDA
On getting into the entertainment industry...
“Never stop training. Never stop going to classes. Never stop networking.”
On lack of female directors...
“We need better mentorship programs. The reason women can’t do these things [directing] is because they were never told they could.”
On film school...
“When the going gets tough, they say to the guys, ‘you just need to focus more and work hard.’ But to the girls, ‘maybe costuming is more your style. Maybe you should focus more on hair and makeup.’”
“I think success is the little victories and challenges.”
On communicating your value...
“I meet so many people that can’t figure out how to persuade people into believing in them.”
“Cultivating the talent then applying the talent is important.”
On being a woman in her Industry…
“One of the biggest challenges women have in the industry or in business is what society tells us to be.”
“One of the hardest things I had to learn was to stop caring what other people wanted me to be.”
“If you’re a woman, you’re going to be judged. If you’re strong, you’re a ball-breaker. If you’re emotional, you’re too emotional and out of control.”
“Call me what you like, but I’ll be over here being really good at what I do.”
On hiring female directors...
“When you check references, every female director gets the review that she’s ‘difficult’, but men are great and aggressive. I always ignore that. I ask, is she any good? Give me tangibles.”
“The more women who say there are no boundaries in any of these jobs, the more women will rise to the top.”
On patience and believing in yourself...
“I thought if I wasn’t doing what everyone around me was doing, then I was failing.”
“What I’ve learned is that if you really want something and don’t give it up, it’s there for you to get—eventually.”
“There is no ‘its too late.’”
“The reason why people don’t achieve their dreams is because they’re impatient and they don’t keep going. They give up and go to plan B.”
“You have to be patient and embrace who you are and embrace your journey.”
“My mom always told me to trust my gut. That has been one of the biggest lessons she instilled in me.”
“There’s a power in believing in yourself and surrounding yourself with people who believe in you. That does something for your self-esteem and gives you good energy. When you have good energy, it flows.”
“Believe in it and work hard for it. If you have that self-confidence, you’re going to be unstoppable”
On getting more women in the industry…
“We should champion each other and help each other out.”
“Always move forward but with a hand out, so that if you’re moving through a door you’re taking someone with you.”
On women of color…
“It’s our time. We must keep fighting. But there are so many more people now who are consciously going to fight for positions for us—we all have to work together as a team.”
On her career path...
“It was when I accepted that my path was nonlinear that things started to happen.”
On Almost 30 podcast…
“It continues to zig and zag and become things we didn’t even know about. It has taught me to trust. If I am present in the moment, I can learn things. “
“It can be really challenging, figuring out what is important and what’s not. Figuring out what you want to be doing in your career. We figured having a larger conversation might help other people feel less alone.”
“Slowly but surely, a community formed around it and that’s who we serve now—the community is everything.”
On the nonlinear path…
“Lindsey and I met because of the non-linear. It was such a beautiful moment where I was like ‘there is a plan, there is a process unfolding.’”
“I had to trust in the process and put in the work.”
“If you are true to the gifts you’re given, good things will come.”
On the podcast...
“Our attachment to the outcome is the biggest thing about Almost 30. We wanted to get to know each other and have conversations we didn’t feel like we were having with our friends.”
“We found this beauty in the unfolding of Almost 30. It’s our jobs to surrender to what’s in front of us.”
This post is in partnership with STARZ.