Cynthia Lopez talks to People CHICA about her organization's 2019 Muse Awards and the importance of having more Latinas and women of color in film and television.

Por Lena Hansen
Noviembre 22, 2019

Cynthia Lopez, the executive director of New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) talked to People CHICA about the importance of having more Latinas and women of color in these industries. “It's pivotal for Latina women to be part of the media and entertainment world. We have stories to tell. When you look at a recent USC study, only 1.3 of every 10 directors are women,” she says. “There are other statistics that show how we have a very small place in the market, especially around directing films.”

Lopez, of Puerto Rican descent, says the film Clemency by Nigerian director Chinonye Chukwu, is just one example of how having female and minority voices present in film can enrich content. “The way she used cinematic language to show the issue of black people on death row was captivating. Half the audience was sobbing, including myself,” she says. “It showed that because she is so dedicated to the issue of people of color in prison. There is a palpable difference when you see this film of how the inmates are treated, and portrayed with dignity and hurt and pain. It's very important for Latinas and people of color to have a voice in this industry and to tell our stories of what we would like to see creatively and also politically.” Likewise, she emphasizes that in “news programming by people like Soledad O'Brien and Maria Hinojosa, we also see a reality of Latino life that is different from what is often portrayed,” a narrative that is more genuine and accurate.

Cynthia Lopez (R) attends New York Women in Film and Television Sunday Brunch celebrating women filmmakers during the 2019 Hamptons International Film Festival in East Hampton, New York.

Lopez says an essential part of her role as executive director of NYWIFT is “figuring out innovative ways to ensure diversity and inclusion.” The NYWIFT Summit “brings together creative talent and journalists as well as our members to have discussions about pay equity for women in the media industry, diversity and inclusion, and safe work environment for women,” she says. NYWIFT also offers several programs geared toward writing or professional development, also providing screenings “for filmmakers to elevate their films and brand” and raising women for scholarships “to ensure that the next generation of filmmakers are women.”

From left: Katie Chambers (NYWIFT Community Engagement Director), Easmanie Michel (NYWIFT Special Projects and Finance Associate), Grace Kim (Filmmaker), Cynthia Lopez (NYWIFT Executive Director), and Rachel Watanabe-Batton (NYWIFT Board Member/Producer), on the red carpet at the NYWIFT Women Calling the Shots Showcase at the 2019 Hamptons International Film Festival

New York Women In Film & Television also celebrates the achievement of remarkable women with its Muse Awards. Among the 2019 honorees is Cuban star Gloria Estefan. “We're delighted that our upcoming Muse Awards on December 10 in New York City has a stellar lineup of women from a variety of sectors of the media and entertainment industry,” Lopez says. “Gloria Estefan has triumphed in so many ways over so many years. Most people know her as a singer and a songwriter, but we also know that she is an actress and a studio executive.”

The other 2019 Muse Awards honorees are: Anjali Sud, the CEO of Vimeo; Kasi Lemmons, director of the film Harriet; Jane Rosenthal, CEO and co-founder of Tribeca Enterprises; actress Ann Dowd; and Shoshannah Stern, creator and writer at AMC Networks.