The Tuesday afternoon session at Tory Burch’s “Embrace Ambition” summit at Lincoln Center included micro panels with cultural leaders who included Margaret Atwood, Katie Couric, Danica Roem, Julianna Margulies, Dilone, Margaret Zhang and Burch herself.
Atwood kicked off the hour with a speech that touched upon female ambition, success, and storytelling. “Women have for a long time been afraid both of too much ambition and of too much success, feeling rightly in the past that they would be criticized and even attacked and shamed if they rose too far above their place as a woman,” she said. “Men don’t have to choose between being successful and being a man.”
As for season two of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which begins today, Atwood noted that it will be “even more nail-biting than season one.”
Next up, NYU professor Ken Corbett interviewed Roem, who won a seat in Virginia’s House of Representatives last year as an openly transgender woman. Roem spoke about her intentions to lead her district with respect and inclusion. “I think what’s really important right now is, yes it’s progress… but if you want good things to happen and better things to happen, you have to continue to fight for it, you have to continue being engaged and you have to continue making yourself by entering the political arena in the first place.” As for what helped prepare her for being in the Senate? “I would say my years as a heavy metal vocalist certainly helped me be on stage in front of an audience, but in terms of the general assembly, learning patience as a stepmom has definitely been helpful.”
Following that, model Dilone and model/photgrapher Margaret Zhang spoke to the idea of inclusion in the modeling industry. “With a profile comes responsibility,” Zhang said. Dilone added, “Maybe we don’t take full responsibility for the entire race, but we do try to open up paths for our ethnicities.”
Julianna Margulies offered insight on producing TV content, including the upcoming TV adaptation of “Dietland,” in the #MeToo era. “We need to raise our voices to stop [sexism], and I think we’re doing that,” said the actress.
Couric and Burch closed out the hour. Burch opened up the session by asking Couric which stories she’s reported have most affected her world outlook. “People who took an idea and built on that idea are the ones that really inspire me, in addition to people who have experienced tremendous heartache and hardship, and somehow they’re able to come out the other side and show this extraordinary resilience, I’m always so moved by those people,” said Couric.
“It’s been a pleasure watching you from afar and just seeing the way you get people to talk about things that they don’t always talk about,” Burch offered in response.
“Just for life in general, if you are naturally, genuinely curious, and you care about people and are interested in people, that opens so many doors,” Couric added.