Photo courtesy of the Palm Springs Women in Film & Television. Left Lilli Rodriguez, Sierra McCormick, Melissa Neiderman, Dolores Robinson and Virginia G. Madsen.
BY GAIL PISCHAK
On Nov. 4, The Palm Springs Women in Film and Television (PSWIFT) proudly hosted its 11th annual Broken Glass Awards at the Agua Caliente Resort & Spa. A capacity crowd came to honor the five outstanding women who have broken through the proverbial glass ceiling through their achievements in the arts, entertainment and philanthropic communities.
For the past 11 years PWIFT have honored more than 40 women who have been shining role models in empowering and paving the way for others to achieve their highest potential.
This year, deserving honorees included actress Sierra McCormick, who received the Rising Star Award and Lilli Rodriguez, artistic director of the International Film Festival Society, who received the Desert Diva Award. Philanthropist, Melissa Neiderman, received the Humanitarian Award, talent manager to the stars, Dolores Robinson, received the Broken Glass Award and the final award, the Gena Award, went to Virginia G. Madsen.
Each recipient shared their stories about how, through the love and support of their families, they were individually able to find the courage and strength to stand up to a system that promotes unhealthy competition and staying silent to keep jobs.
There were many emotional moments as each of them remembered their respective journeys and thanked the people who supported them, often through difficult times.
Actress Sierra McCormick, 21, grew up in Palm Springs and shared her story of how she grew up in front of the camera. McCormick is best known for her role as Olive Doyle in Disney’s ‘A.N.T. Farm’ and as participant in the game show, ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’ She has also appeared in ‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Monk,’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’
She thanked PSWIFT for the honor. “It’s wonderful to see this organization support and uplift women.”
Rodriguez’s best friend, Avisinia Rodriguez, introduced her friend with, “Lilli is not a diva, she’s down to earth. But she’s really good at breaking things, especially glass ceilings.”
The Artistic Director spoke about how foreign it feels to receive the Diva Award. “I give awards, not receive them” as she thanked everyone, “it feels good to be acknowledged for championing ideas.”
Actress, Virginia Madsen, talked about how her mom left a career to follow her passion to write and make films. “She told me to always follow my own passion and I did just that.” On breaking the glass ceiling, “It didn’t happen to me until I was 50. It’s important to help the younger people that are coming up and give them a hand and tell them yes you can.”
Besides the awards, the PSWIFT presented the inaugural Denise DuBarry Scholarship to three deserving high school students who have achieved a high academic standing and plan to pursue a career in the arts and entertainment industry. Denis DuBarry was a fixture in the Palm Springs community and past president of PSWIFT.
Women in Film is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to helping women and men achieve their highest potential with the film and television industry. Student filmmakers are encouraged to join. It’s a great way to begin developing a professional network.
The annual membership fee is $25.
The next event for the PWIFT is a holiday mixer on Dec. 10 at the Aqua California Bistro at The River in Rancho Mirage.