Lauren Ciaravalli

May, 2015

The Gracies

Gracie’s Award 2015: A Magical Evening With Real Impact

When AWM Board Member Heather Cohen invited me to the Gracies Gala, I thanked her profusely, declaring her my Fairy Godmother. I really did feel like Cinderella – giddy, excited, and desperate for something awesome to wear! I borrowed my best friend’s dress and pearls, booked a blowout, packed my favorite lipstick, and the next thing I knew I was at the Beverly Hilton surrounded by the most inspiring women in the industry.

The warmth and generosity Heather bestowed upon me was the quintessence of the spirit of the Gala itself. The moment I took my seat at the ballroom table, my nerves disappeared. Everyone in attendance was friendly and genuinely interested in connecting. Having graduated from NYU’s film school in 2013, I’ve only been out in LA for two years. Still, I’m already all too aware of how rare an environment like this is.

While Hollywood often feels like a boys club, attending the Gracies was an initiation into an institution that was warm, welcoming, and inclusive of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and media industries. As an industry newcomer, it was eye-opening and encouraging for me to be welcomed into this community. I literally and metaphorically found a seat at table that was all about mentorship and peer-to-peer support.

The Gracies Award winners truly represented the highest caliber of work across the media landscape. It was incredible to see actors, animators, radio producers, documentarians and writers being recognized alongside one another. The evening was simply glamorous, impressive, and an absolute blast.
After the ceremony, as I sipped my coffee and enjoyed my cheesecake, I met women whose work I had admired for years – Entertainment Weekly critic Melissa Maerz and Girl Code head writer Laura Murphy to name a few. I was star-struck, to be sure, and mingling with so many accomplished women at once was definitely a Hollywood dream come true.

While my Gracies experience felt like a fairytale, what I experienced wasn’t magic, but rather the power of a strong and devoted network of women. Never in my professional life had I felt so inspired and empowered. In being exposed to so many corners of the industry at once, I started visualizing new possibilities and all the directions I might be able to explore throughout my career. Though the evening came to an end, the clock doesn’t strike midnight on the impact of the Alliance for Women in Media and the Gracies Awards. Until next year, I think we’ll all be riding high on the confidence, inspiration, and sense of community we experienced that night.

Lauren is a writer and filmmaker who earned her MFA in Film & Television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. After graduation, she moved to LA where she survived the fabled Hollywood mailroom, working as an assistant at WME Entertainment before landing a gig as the showrunner’s assistant on NBC’s The Mysteries of Laura. Lauren is currently writing half-hour comedy for television within the Nickelodeon Writing Program.