Coalition Launched To Support, Promote Women In Entertainment

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On Wednesday, celebrities, models and hip-hop bigwigs, including singer Mya, Russell Simmons and kitschy American Idol phenom William Hung, crammed an exclusive, invitation-only “pink” carpet to celebrate the launch of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN).

Hosted by the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) at the Bo Concept furniture store in SoHo, the event kicked-off a twelve-month countdown to enroll one million members in a coalition to empower women.

“This is a very pivotal time in hip-hop,” Valeisha Butterfield, executive director of HSAN, told the packed audience. “We’re here tonight to create a balance. We all love hip-hop, we live it. Now, we need to protect it.”

Butterfield explained recent dialogue surrounding the portrayal of women of color in entertainment, particularly Don Imus‘ racial degrading comments about Rutgers women’s basketball, sparked her crusade to promote and defending a positive portrayal of women in entertainment.

“Initially, I emailed about 20 friends and colleagues about this mission,” she said. “Every single person responded.”

As guests sipped pink Nuvo cocktails, Butterfield introduced WEEN’s senior advisory board and thanked a long list of influential music moguls who are already actively participating in the coalition. Fashionista Kimora Lee Simmons will act as the organization’s national spokeswoman.

“This is not about blame,” TV host and legal analyst Lauren Lake said. “We want to support artists who give a balanced portray of women. As a community, we can take back responsibility. We can effectuate [change], not just talk about it.”

Member enrollment, open to all, can be found at WEENonline.org. The Web site will offer exclusive interviews with various members of the art and music community, as well as provide information on community outreach programs.

—Stephanie Burton