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Kerry Washington on Supporting Women Filmmakers and Making Her ‘Black Wife Effect’ Video

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New York City’s Greenwich Hotel was abuzz Friday afternoon as women from all corners of Hollywood gathered to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the mentorship-focused Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program. 

Guests at the luncheon — including Jenny Slate, Katie Holmes, Rachel Weisz, Selma Blair and The Gilded Age‘s Louisa Jacobson — were dressed to impress in head-to-toe Chanel, with signature tweed jackets on display in addition to quilted purses and other accessories. The French luxury fashion brand partnered with Tribeca Film nearly a decade ago to launch Through Her Lens, which supports the work of female and non-binary independent filmmakers. Acclaimed directors including A.V. Rockwell (A Thousand and One) have emerged from the mentorship program. 

A.V. Rockwell, wearing Chanel, at the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s luncheon to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program.

Sean Zanni/WireImage

Kerry Washington, who serves on the advisory committee of Through Her Lens, told The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m really proud to work for an initiative that’s all about protecting and amplifying women’s voices. Stories have such power to change culture and to reflect the importance of women.”

Known for playing White House fixer Olivia Pope for seven seasons of Scandal, Washington said that the role “changed [her] life.” She recently caught the attention of fans with a TikTok video including photos of her and onscreen love interest Tony Goldwyn, referring to “the Black wife effect.” 

“I love that people still care about [the characters’ love story, dubbed] ‘Olitz’ and care about the show, but one of the things I hope is that people more and more understand that each of us has the capacity to be the Olivia Popes of our lives,” Washington said. “We think of her as a fixer. We think of her as somebody who can transform power, but the reality is that each of us has the capacity to do that. That’s why that post that I did, that was really us in support of people registering to vote.”

We Were the Lucky Ones star Joey King also spoke with THR on the carpet, saying of the Through Her Lens initiative, “I always find it really beautiful when companies don’t just say that they’re supportive of women filmmakers and non-binary filmmakers, but they really showcase that, and that’s why I think today is so special. I’m excited to be part of something that helps lift up minority voices.”

Martin Scorsese’s daughter Francesca Scorsese also attended the event. The budding filmmaker is a juror at this year’s Tribeca Festival. While her TikToks featuring her father have gone viral, her recent short film A Fish Out of Water draws from her personal experience with her mother’s Parkinson’s diagnosis. After screening at Tribeca last year, it’s heading to the Palm Springs International ShortFest.

From left, Francesca Scorsese, wearing Chanel, and Federica Domeneghetti attend the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s luncheon to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program at The Greenwich Hotel on June 7 in New York City.

Sean Zanni/WireImage

“[Parkinson’s] definitely affected me and my father’s lives in an extreme way, but it’s also caused us to grow a lot closer. … It was sort of a way to heal something in me making that film, and I really feel as though I did.”

With two filmmakers in the family, do the elder and younger Scorsese bounce ideas off each other?

“It’s hard not to,” she said. “He’s very nosy about my life in the best way. He’s my best friend, and we’re very similar in the way that we think. … When it came down to [Fish Out of Water], it was a very personal film, and we talked about it. He definitely gave some input, and whether I took it or not, that was up to me. He was sort of a sounding board for me.”

Meanwhile, Jane Rosenthal, who co-founded Tribeca Film Festival alongside Robert DeNiro and helped establish Through Her Lens, spoke to the value of the program. 

“It’s not just a mentorship program you go through — it’s like being stuck with your family,” she told THR. “We support all aspects of what it is to make a film, which is also sometimes that emotional aspect — when you’re hitting brick walls, how do you keep pushing through?”

From left, Jane Rosenthal and Katie Holmes, wearing Chanel, attend the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s luncheon to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program at The Greenwich Hotel on June 7 in New York City.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Later in the day, Washington and fellow advisory committee members Patty Jenkins and Laura Karpman participated in a panel moderated by Perri Peltz at the nearby Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo. The group talked about fostering the next generation of female filmmakers, reflecting on the state of the industry and what needs to change in order to create an equitable playing field. 

Jenkins, director of the DC blockbuster Wonder Woman, lamented Hollywood’s lack of diverse content: “There has been the illusion of progress — in [terms of] putting people in positions. But actually, there has been almost no progress in having confidence in other people’s stories.”

From left, Patty Jenkins, Kerry Washington and Laura Karpman, all wearing Chanel, attend the Tribeca and Chanel Through Her Lens Conversation at Crosby Street Hotel on June 7 in New York City.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Washington reflected on the value of taking chances in such a risk-averse industry. Scandal, she recalled, was greenlit with some apprehension. 

“Everybody, including the network that aired it, called it a risk because there hadn’t been a Black woman as the lead of a network drama in almost 40 years. And I remember at the time feeling insulted by that word — that it was a risk. But I actually think when we are at our best as creative people, what we do is take risks.”

She went on, “I think a lot of times the studios and the streamers are terrified to take risks. But a risk means you’re going outside your comfort zone, to do something that’s never been done before, and you’re not sure that it’s going to work — but you believe in it enough to try.”

Discussing the possibility of finding success outside the Hollywood studio system, the panelists stressed the importance of women supporting each other’s projects. “We need to create literal networks,” said Karpman, American Fiction and Past Lives composer. “We have to get venture capitalists. We have to talk to each other. We’ve got to direct, score each other’s movies, act, produce — all the crafts that we have — and then literally raise the money to do it and start our own thing.”

Below, see more images from the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s luncheon to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program, which was also attended by Christy Turlington, Emily Mortimer, Ashley Benson, Dianna Agron, Camila Mendes, Kathryn Newton, Sistine Stallone, West Duchovny, AnnaSophia Robb and Gloria Ruben.

Selma Blair, wearing Chanel, and her dog Scout attend the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s lunch to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program at The Greenwich Hotel on June 7 in New York City.

Sean Zanni/WireImage

Rachel Weisz, wearing Chanel, attends the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s luncheon to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program at The Greenwich Hotel on June 7 in New York City.

Sean Zanni/WireImage

From left, Chase Sui Wonders and Odessa Young, both wearing Chanel, attend the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s luncheon to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program at The Greenwich Hotel on June 7 in New York City.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Louisa Jacobson, wearing Chanel, attends the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s lunch to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program at The Greenwich Hotel on June 7 in New York City.

Sean Zanni/WireImage

From left, Mickey Sumner and Emily Mortimer, both wearing Chanel, attend the Chanel Tribeca Festival women’s luncheon to celebrate the Through Her Lens Program at The Greenwich Hotel on June 7, 2024 in New York City.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

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