On Friday, April 8, Dodge College presented the 17th annual Women in Focus conference, showcasing some amazing women working today in the entertainment industry that included Stephanie Allain, Hannah Minghella, Sanaa Hamri, Nicole Rocklin, and moderator, Denise Di Novi.

The event started with a luncheon with invited guests and our panelists in Stage B, before moving over to the Folino for the panel. After Dean Bob Bassett made his opening remarks, he turned it over to Alex Rose who spoke about blasting through perceptions and challenging the status quo, the theme of the conference.

Some of our students were then honored with awards. Congradulations to Amadi Pate and Natalie Welch for winning the Entertainment Partners in Producing Award, Lane Lyle for winning the Meredith MacRae Memorial Award, and Ashton Avila, Kendall Goldberg, and Taylor Reynolds for winning the Zonta Club of Newport Harbor Award!

After, Denise Di Novi took the stage, and introduced the esteemed panelists. While the entire discussion was a fantastic look at some of the hardest working women in show business, and some of the challenges they had to overcome, here are select quotes from them:

“It looks really hard, but don’t give up.” – Denise Di Novi

“I always tell women, be direct about what you want or you won’t get anywhere. Don’t fall into the playground dynamic.” – Sanaa Hamri

“People saying ‘no’ just willed me to fight harder. Things come together the way they’re supposed to, especially when you work hard at it.” – Nicole Rocklin

“Discouragement is a big part of creative pursuits. But I’ve learned the most from my failures.” – Denise Di Novi

“You need to have a diverse executive team to offer necessary perspective.” – Hannah Minghella

“I don’t enjoy being the only woman in the room. I want different people of different genders.” –  Sanaa Hamri

“TV is putting forward these strong, original female characters that prove there’s an appetite for that.” – Hannah Minghella

“You don’t need to ask permission to do what you want.” – Sanaa Hamri

“Have passion and be prepared.” – Nicole Rocklin

“You can be good and successful in this industry and be a great mom.” – Hannah Minghella

“Women and minorities have to be represented, because that’s what the truth is.” – Sanaa Hamri

“You should feel empowered to have strong convictions.” – Hannah Minghella

“Women push harder, struggle harder, to get things made. It took me seven years to make an Oscar-winning film. That was between working on another film and being a single mom. That just proves that you CAN have it all.” – Nicole Rocklin