On June 10, Concord Academy hosted “Changing the Lens: Women in Entertainment Share Essential Perspectives” as part of the Centennial Celebration Speaker Series. The discussion showcased how CA alums are making their mark through meaningful media and creating space for women in the industry. New York Times film critic Natalia Winkelman ’11 put the impressive panelists in focus. 

Marketing executive Danielle Lee ’93 has used her business savvy to revolutionize streaming and merchandising initiatives for companies including Showtime, Spotify, and Warner Music. Rachel Morrison ’96 has broken barriers as the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for cinematography and the first to lens a Marvel movie, Black Panther. Emmy-nominated Susanna Fogel ’98 is a writer, director, and producer who has entertained millions through hit TV series, such as HBO’s The Flight Attendant, and major motion pictures, including the comedy Booksmart

Their first act began here in Concord. Fogel shared that she has always been determined to become a filmmaker and began crafting screenplays in the computer lab at CA. She jokes that she “seasoned and perfected” her teen angst from her time at the school to become the writer she is today. Similarly, Morrison found a passion for photography and filmmaking at CA, crediting visual arts teachers Cynthia Katz and Chris Rowe for fostering her imagination.

Lee came to CA as an A Better Chance scholar. She says in attending the school, she realized her capacity for creative leadership: “Concord was the first time I ever really exercised my voice and the chapel was a beautiful opportunity to do that at such a tender age. Boy, have I been called on to use that confidence and that grit to stand up in front of audiences, board rooms, and executives and speak in an authentic way.” 

As women in the industry, the panelists have all had to demonstrate resilience. Fogel shared she worked odd jobs for nearly a decade before finding success as a full-time filmmaker. Now that she’s reached the top, she uses her influence to make an impact.

“I feel really committed to expanding the scope of what people think female filmmakers can do and not get pigeonholed into one particular genre,” Fogel says. “I’ve done some comedy, I’ve done drama, I recently worked on a period piece, and I’ve done some writing for animation. I’m just really working to find important stories to tell.” 

“The challenge for women remains having that courage to speak your truth,” Lee says. “You’re not there to maintain the status quo. You’re there to change the game for the next generation. That ultimately became the mantle that I took up. If I’m going to be the only woman and only Black person in this room, I need to open the door for the next set of leaders to follow behind me.” 

Through collaboration, industry professionals are changing the entertainment landscape. Fogel lends her expertise to the mentorship program with Sundance Screenwriters Labs advising writers from underrepresented backgrounds. Morrison, a mentor herself, also emphasized the importance of championing all voices, sharing: “We need to broaden the spectrum to let everyone direct how they want to direct and be who they really are.”

Watch the program recording  »

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