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Politics and New Abortion Ban Laws Dominate 2019 Gracie Awards

Anna Tingley

Female empowerment was in the air Tuesday night as showrunners, writers and performers gathered at the 44th annual Gracie Awards to celebrate women breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings within the entertainment industry.

Sandra Oh, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Maddow and Connie Britton were among the honorees at the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.  

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“I think we’re all thinking the same thing which is there is not gonna be a better time in history for things to be for women and by women,” said honoree Molly Wood, who hosts American Public Media’s daily showMarketplace Tech.” “But it really shows — when you get us all here together like this, you feel this wave of like, ‘We’re unstoppable, we’re gonna win. We’re gonna be okay.’ We all have each other and we’re all so good at what we do that it’s absurd we’ve been ignored for as long as we have. It’s just not gonna happen anymore.”

Comedian Lauren Ash, the evening’s host, also spoke about banding together as women to defeat conservative legislation such as the new state abortion ban laws that were passed earlier this month.

“I stopped watching ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ because it started to be too real and then this news is happening and it’s like we’re literally living Margaret Atwood’s words that she wrote in the ‘80s. How is that possible?” Ash said. “So the only thing I can say is that we have to stick together and we have to be prepared to fight this in small and large ways. Because letting people into our bodies is not the way to go.”

One way these female powerhouses plan to make noise is by adding more diversity to the screen to empower disenfranchised and underrepresented communities. Showrunners, producers and actresses at the event said they’re dedicated to working on projects that have a strong moral theme and are in line with their values. Such projects include Univision’s docu-series “When Abortion Is a Lifeline,” produced by Ana Rodriguez and Eulimar Nunez, which follows women in Latin America and the Caribbean as they struggle with restrictive abortion bans, and “Sold in America,” which investigates America’s devastating sex trade issues.

“I realize that making great entertainment is fantastic and I love doing that but making great entertainment that’s doing good things for the world is really now my focus,” Melora Hardin of “The Bold Type” said. Hardin, alongside Elizabeth Perkins of “Sharp Objects” and “Schitt’s Creek” star Annie Murphy, also voiced support for those pulling production out of states such as Georgia in protest of their abortion laws.

Ash also agreed that the women and men of Hollywood need to work together to combat such legislation, saying, “The truth is is that we have to support each other — there’s nothing that the ‘powers that be’ want more than women fighting with each other. Because once we go against each other, it’s like ‘oh good, they’re ignoring each other, they’re forgetting the fact that when they come together their cycles will all align and the moon will move and they can actually create some big change in the world.’”

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