TEDWomen 2013: Invented Here

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  • TEDxWomen

Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Jennifer is a filmmaker, actress, spokesperson and advocate. She wrote, directed and produced the documentary film Miss Representation, which debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and made its national broadcast premiere on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. She is the Founder and CEO of MissRepresentation.org, a call-to-action campaign to empower women and girls to challenge limiting labels in order to realize their potential.

Newsom graduated with honors from Stanford University and Stanford Graduate School of Business. She worked in Africa, Latin America, and Europe on assignments with Conservation International, a global environmental organization, where her primary focus was providing micro-enterprise opportunities to women. After business school, she moved to Los Angeles where she performed in numerous films and TV shows, including In the Valley of Elah, Something’s Gotta Give, Rent, The Nanny Express, Trauma, Life, Mad Men, and Numb3rs. Newsom formed Girls Club Entertainment, LLC as an umbrella entertainment company to develop and produce independent films with strong social, political, and cultural significance, focused primarily on empowering women. Newsom is married to California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and they have two children.


14 Responses to Jennifer Siebel Newsom

  1. Christine says:

    I enjoyed this talk and also Missrepresentation, which I recently saw. You have a lot of good arguments, and I admire your initiative, as well as the variety of experience that you mentioned going unrecognized in Hollywood.

    I’m disappointed, however, by the lack of attention to race in this talk. Disability and perhaps sexuality could be in there too. But I think that any strong gendered media analysis really needs to include race. It would strengthen your arguments, reach a more diverse audience, and make this campaign more applicable to American women and other consumers of American media.

    While watching the movie especially, I was distracted by its absence.

  2. Dory Love says:

    I just read the recent article in the San Jose Mercury News written by you and Jackson Katz, and wanted to encourage you to look at the ongoing research and conversation that abounds within the domains of Learning Behavior Exceptionalities (Gifted Education), Twice-Exceptional identification, and Autism-Specific Education. Not unlike the troubled young man in Connecticut, there are many young men that have high-order aptitudes and intelligence, but for whom there has been significant programming cutbacks regarding educational opportunities, support, and services, that addresses their well-documented social and emotional needs.
    To assign a judgement of “mental illness,” relational aggression, and gender-driven marketing alone, as potential/sole causes of this most tragic occurrence, is to misunderstand some key fundamental trends in education that are rendering and isolating individuals (and families, that attempt to provide for the needs of such individuals) that “think differently” and that are constitutionally, so very, very different.
    I believe, we must become better informed about the finer implications of our society’s neglect of providing learning opportunities for individuals that are cognitively two-three standard deviations above the norm, if we are to really understand and address the great complexities that are confronting these young men; and thereby, attempt to prevent any further horror to our public. The documentation is out there, and growing; as virtually every shooting that has occurred since Columbine, was committed at the hands of individuals that are characterized as having multiple-exceptionalities, and in dire need of specialized educational learning opportunities to appropriately channel their potential. Another words, education is key. If our country does not address the broken nature of our educational system, we will be dealing with more than just gender inequities. As you have so persistently pursued looking at the realities within gender, popular culture, and media, I urge you to look specifically at these populations, at our educational system, and how we must look at ways to meaningfully connect with our young people, once more.
    By using the benefits of your education, your social position, and life experience to further your personal and professional sense of public service is to shine a light, and to educate others. What a powerful tool to benefit countless others.

  3. Marcie Boyd says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you for your important work. I’m Eric Jaye’s cousin, an American living in the Dominican Republic where I am producing a telenovela about teen pregnancy. I recently did my first TEDxWomen talk in Santo Domingo about our project, “Madre Niña”. I completely agree with you about the insididiousness of media messages about women, and it’s not just in the U.S. Latin women are subjected to extremely insulting stereotypes and seem even more willing to accept them than U.S. women.

    I’d love to network with media activists working in the Spanish-speaking world. If you know of anyone, I’d appreciate your passing along their name and contact info. Thank you.
    Marcie Boyd

  4. Glenda Nelson says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I was so moved by your documentary that I bought a DVD to show family and friends. Interestingly, my boss, HRH Princess Areej Ghazi and her brother, Brigadier Waleed Zawawi both have watched the film. One lives in Jordan, the other in Oman. You are making waves … around the world! Congrats!

    But, back to my reason for writing. I am a grad student at Johns Hopkins and have decided to write an applied research paper (rhetorical analysis) on “Miss Representation”. I am trying to locate a screenplay, but have been unsuccessful. Have you made one available? May I have a copy?

    Thank you for starting this conversation on behalf of women and girls. I, for one, am continuing it!

    All the best,
    Glenda Nelson
    Email: qglenda@gmail.com
    Phone: 301-233-2496

  5. Katie Hogan says:

    What is your speaking fee?

  6. kate powell says:

    My husband and I stopped watching the tele — gave it up altogether — because frankly the ads always made me mad (we rent movies.) What began to bother me most was that women sat and just accepted verizon blowing up a woman, or ads for game where women were the object of gunnings. WOMEN AND GIRLS seemed to be immune to what they were watching. My husband, the father of three girls, was NOT.

    It bothered me, and until Miss Representation I thought I was the only one that was bothered.

    I was raised in So Cal, and know how much that culture made being pretty the entire be-all and end-all for a girl. Thankfully my family did not.

    I would love to be involved in this movement and do whatever I can to promote it — we are small business owners and so time is a bit limited but I write well and fast and am great at blogging . . .

  7. Susan Ingrahm Kelly says:

    As a mother to three daughters I found the telling of this story realistic, fair and beautifully told. It upsets me to see that the value of women undervalued, and saddened to know that stereotypes continue. Happy to know that the number of women with advanced degrees is on the rise outnumbering boys. Ultimately what we all should wish for, and work for is fairness, and appreciation for the potential of both genders. Thanks for the creation of, and energy put forth to share this important information.

  8. Carly Calbreath says:

    I was just curious if your organization had made any attempts to reach out to Greek systems across American universities in particular. I am currently an undergraduate at UCLA and although I am not in a sorority, my experiences with friends in the system have displayed the considerable power and influence these institutions have over their members. Recently, all members of fraternities and sororities at my school were required to watch a documentary on the challenges of LGBTQ community. It seems like this would be an ideal opportunity to spark discussion and commitment to this cause. I also want to thank you for all this. My sister is ten years younger than I, and this is the first time I have actually considered that she may be better off in the world than I was.

  9. Sandra janich says:

    Could you share the contact information of the father in park city, Utah? I also live in park city and would be interested what he is doing and explore if our interests and ideas are a good match.

  10. jane gannon says:

    Someone should give you a tee-shirt, Jennifer: you should run for President (after Obama)!

  11. Chuck Formoso says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    We could feel the sincerity in your hear how pure it is. Your goal to empower girls and boys is the most critical solution to most of our problems today.
    The most effective way to do this is to know who we are and if we only focus on this earthly plain we miss the big reality. I every child learns that we are a spiritual being and just like we need to feed the body the spirit must also be nourished and grow to appear in the utmost beauty.
    thank you for your efforts
    Chuck and Fariba Formoso

  12. Lori Coleman says:

    I recently saw you speak at CREW San Francisco and wanted to direct your attention to a song called “When I was a boy” by Dar Williams. You mention your next project is about boys and you may find inspiration. This song is a beautiful tune and story about the young experiences of both boys and girls before social roles take hold.

    I write this as I am watching MissRepresentation. Thank you.

  13. Jennifer, I’m not sure if you saw this. I found it really disturbing and demeaning to women. http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2011/12/hms-new-lingerie-models-are-computer-generated.html

  14. Emily Hehir says:

    What is the most important thing we can do to empower younger generations to effectively challenge the status quo given that studios and corporations make so much money off a narrow representation of females?