We went to Women's Day on Broadway and met so many inspirational women

These Broadway leading women are amazing.

March 13, 2019, 12:21 PM
Ryann Redmond attends the "South Pacific" 70th Anniversary Gala Concert at The St. Regis, Dec. 10, 2018, in New York City.
Ryann Redmond attends the "South Pacific" 70th Anniversary Gala Concert at The St. Regis, Dec. 10, 2018, in New York City.
Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

We were blown away by the leading ladies of the 2nd annual Women's Day on Broadway.

This year's event was held at the St. James Theatre, home to Disney's "Frozen" show, which was filled with even more female change-makers than usual. From Ryann Redmond, "Frozen's" first female Olaf, to Young Jean Lee, Broadway's first Asian American female playwright, these women were not waiting in the wings to spark change.

"I've just always thought of myself as a regular old actress," Redmond told "Good Morning America." "I just sort of fell into this and it's crazy to think that I am a change-maker, but I'm so glad it happened and I hope that it continues to happen."

From Hollywood to Broadway, conversations about gender equality took center stage.

"I was told I rule with a feather," said filmmaker and writer of Broadway's "Waitress" Jessie Nelson. "At the time, I took it as a compliment, but now, looking back, I was like, what if one day I didn't want to rule with a feather? What if I wanted to yell one day or to let another part of my nature out?"

Nelson, who rose to fame for writing films such as "Stepmom," "Corina, Corina," and "I Am Sam," wasn't the only panelist to question her role as a leader in the entertainment industry.

"When I made my first film in 1995, there were 150 crew members and maybe 17 were women," said Paula Wagner, the producer behind the "Mission Impossible" films. "I was the producer, I walked on the set carrying myself with a certain kind of authority, and this gentleman turned to me and said, 'You act like you're important.' I said, 'We all are important, but the reason you're here is because I put all this together.'"

The panelists were then asked whether or not a woman has to be mean to earn respect.

"You do not," said acclaimed playwright Theresa Rebeck, to which the entire audience cheered.

There's no question that women in the entertainment industry are in a constant struggle to get a more prominent seat at the table.

The Lilly Awards presented its findings on a case study analyzing three years of data from productions in regional theaters in America. The study found that only 22 percent of these productions were written by women.

"It's interesting because when I hear those statistics it makes me think of my person experience in downtown theater where everyone was welcoming diversity," said Lee whose play "Straight White Men" made her the first Asian American woman to have a play on Broadway. "I stepped onto the scene and people cared so much about diversity that it was just like, 'Oh my God, woman of color, what do you need?'"

The Lilly shared that women of color make up less than 5 percent of theatre productions in America.

"I am the poster child for what happens when you do care about diversity," said Lee. "I definitely benefited from downtown theater affirmative action. I got special treatment."

Some of the panelists argued that in order to have more representation in the world of theatre, you have to look offstage.

"It's not new to have people of color on stage and a majority white audience, that actually comes from Jim Crow," said African American playwright Dominique Morisseau. "Socially, I think it's great when we see people of color stories on the stage, but we have to make space for them in the audience. We often assume the communities of color don't have the money, and I think that's wrong."

"For young women and young women of color, just keep being and finding your voice," Syndee Winters, who plays Nala in "The Lion King" told "GMA." "Your voice is so important, always."

And the younger voices at this year's panel also inspire hope.

"I never really thought of myself as a change-maker," said rising Broadway actress Rosdely Ciprian, who stars in Broadway's "What The Constitution Means To Me." "I just thought of myself as a girl who can do impressive things."

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