Every Wednesday, we feature a female celebrity’s top list of women who have inspired or helped her throughout her career. This week, Once Upon a Time star Jennifer Morrison shares the women who’ve rooted for her since the beginning.
1. Pam Fryman, executive producer and director of HIMYM
I always say I want to be Pan Fryman when I grow up. She truly embodies all of the things I hope to be. She is strong, yet kind. She is outrageously talented and inspires people to be their best… better than their best when they are around her. When she is directing, everyone feels loved and supported and driven to be the most talented, wonderful versions of themselves. On top of all of that, she has a rare and impressive balance of work and family. She is the type of director I strive to be.
2. Catherine O’Hara
I have always admired her work and looked at her as one of my comic heroes. When I was 22 and working on Surviving Christmas, she came up to me after a rehearsal and said, “You’re really funny. You have great comic instincts. Trust yourself. Don’t just stick to the script when we film.”
In a star-studded cast, I was shy and felt obligated to stick to the script, and she freed me up to try new things. It was incredibly generous of her to encourage me like that, and she gave me the confidence to trust my instincts.
3. Shelli Azoff
I met her through Missy Halperin. Her list of outstanding professional and philanthropic endeavors is vast and unparalleled, but the way I know her is through her women’s poker game. She is strong, confident and sure of exactly what she wants at all times. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and brings bright, strong, successful women together. The women she brings together are all unapologetically confident, and they all help each other out and contribute to each other’s lives.
4. Missy Halperin, head of talent relations at Fox
I met her during my House days. She has a gift for navigating every type of personality with grace and understanding. She makes events that could feel intense and overwhelming feel like a fun family outing. I have met so many wonderful friends through my friendship with her. She also taught me how to play poker. Playing poker has been one of the most effective ways to meet friends in LA as well as make professional connections at times. It is a life skill that I enjoy and appreciate.
5. Kay Krill, president and CEO of Ann Inc.
I met Kay Krill when she invited me to be on the board of Ann Cares. She is one of the most impressive CEOs in the world. She turned Ann Taylor Loft into a multi-billion-dollar company. She has a beautiful family and runs a company with 92 percent female employees. She has innovated the workplace for women in many ways, but especially by having childcare available at their offices. In addition to her impressive professional and personal life, she is giving back in so many ways. She started Ann Cares, and they provide 50 grants a year for high school girls who have ideas for nonprofits. She brings them to Washington, D.C., to meet with leaders and find mentors, and then she funds their nonprofit endeavors. I have learned so much from her tenacity, her no-nonsense ways professionally and her understanding of the big picture and how important it is to support other women and to grow the next generation of women leaders.
6. Ms. Fryzel, senior English teacher
Ms. Fryzel was my senior English teacher at Prospect High School. She is a badass. Most students were afraid of her, but for me she was my absolute inspiration. She taught me to write, taught me to love literature, taught me how to think critically about literature and supported my artistic ventures 100 percent. She always pushed me to be better in every way.
7. Randi Hiller, casting director
Randi Hiller cast me in both Urban Legends: Final Cut and Warrior. Both films were big breaks for me and very crucial to my success in the business. She took notice of me before I even lived in LA, and pushed to get my tapes in front of directors when no one knew who I was. Her support in the casting arena was critical to my success.
8. Avy Kaufman, casting director
Avy Kaufman is another casting director who believed in my work before I moved to LA. She always found ways to make my performances better in the audition room. She always pushed me to be better, and she was one of the first casting directors to put me in rooms with directors that I love and admire. Her faith in me always inspired me to try to be a better actor, and made me determined to find ways to stretch and grow as an actor so that I could live up to her standards when she put me in big rooms.
9. Gail Berman, former president of Fox
Gail Berman was the president of Fox when I was cast on House. She believed in me and trusted me to play a character that was 10 years older than me. She had me repeat my audition in the room to be sure, and then offered me the job in the room. I was so moved by her faith in me, but also so impressed with her confidence. She knew that she knew. She did not doubt herself or second-guess herself. She made decisions based on her expertise, her gut and with total authority and confidence. This always stuck with me, and it inspired me to always want to be the best I could be for her. I did not take her faith in me lightly, and it inspired me to always reach to be better.
10. Ashley Lent Levinson, CEO of REX
Ashley Lent Levinson is currently the CEO of a new social media app called REX. She has had many high-profile jobs in many arenas. I am lucky enough to also call her a close friend. She is someone who every day encourages me to think bigger. There are no limits in her mind to what people are capable of. She dreams big and lives big, and her energy and the way she thinks rubs off on everyone around her. I can always turn to her for an honest and well-informed opinion, and she will tell it as it is. She is not afraid of conflict over telling the truth. I have learned from her that the truth, although sometimes painful, is the best route, the most productive route and the route that wins in the end. She is fiercely loyal and has a gift for connecting people professionally and personally. She seems to see with otherworldly instincts.
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