Catherine Combs

November, 2018


Nazanin Bani Amerian, 2018 Ford “Emerging Voices” Scholarship Recipient

I am standing in the middle of a fancy ballroom in NYC and recording the scene to preserve the moment in my mind forever. There are well-dressed people, purple lights, chandeliers, glasses of champagne and beautiful women taking pictures with their awards. My mom, brother and friends are waiting for this, so I post it on Instagram immediately with the caption, “This is the first time I feel important in my life”. I am 32, and that is not a lie. I feel important as me, Nazanin, for the first time in 32 years. I am here to accept my scholarship for a story of my life that I sent to the Alliance for Woman in Media. We are sitting at table 1 with all these important people working for different networks like CNN, journals and other places that I have always dreamt of working with one day. The beautiful girl from Ford is reading my article, which is a story about an ordinary Middle Eastern girl. People are clapping, tears are coming and I am overcome by this feeling in my heart that they have heard what I have told them. They are looking at me with no anger, judgment or pity. I am “me” here.

All my life, as a woman, I have not been allowed to talk about what I believe in, what I want or do not want to be, what I’ve gone through and what I feel about life in my country. There are some places in this world where you can tell your story and nobody is going to punish you for telling the truth. Alliance for Women in Media has given me the courage, confidence, and motivation to speak my truth. Standing in front of people I have admired all my life, talking to them and being heard by them has given me the encouragement to not be silent anymore. I know this experience is not just for me. This is for every other woman. Today, we need to cheer each other on, shake each other’s hands and help each other. The Alliance for Women in Media is a place where we can find that.