At the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Awards on November 14, those in attendance were eager to celebrate women’s successes just six days after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election.
“We all thought we would be having a very different discussion,” said Cindi Leive, Glamour’s editor in chief. “There was such a tremendous amount of emotion in the room, and there were many women who saw this as a setback—so women’s achievements was the best possible thing to honor.”
This year’s awards ceremony was the first time the event followed a day-long Women of the Year Summit that Glamour held in Los Angeles. Leive said that in 2015, on the 25th anniversary of the Women of the Year awards at Carnegie Hall, she knew that in 2016, the team would have to come up with something different to top that year’s celebration.
“We had all of these incredible women on stage at the same time—Madeline Albright, Serena Williams, Selena Gomez,” said Leive. “I remember thinking, ‘What are we going to do next year?’ I needed a new energy.”
So Glamour chose a new city (Los Angeles), a new venue (NeueHouse in West Hollywood) and a new format. The day of programming for the first Women of the Year Live Summit touched on female leadership, body positivity, self care, professional endeavors, personal issues, and of course, the election and what it means for women. Leive wanted women to leave with Instagram tips from Eva Chen and career insight from Black Girls Code. Next year, she said Glamour will be back with another summit—the one-day format was a first-year trial.
Leive shared the details of her day at the summit in the diary below, which has been lightly edited.
4:45 a.m. Wake up without an alarm. Don’t be too impressed—it’s because I’m in L.A. and jet-lagged. I spend about an hour in my room at the Peninsula returning emails, answering last-minute questions about our Women of the Year summit and event tonight. Post a few pictures from the pre-event dinner the night before at Barneys in Beverly Hills. Try to crop out the ones where I’m laughing too hysterically at my seatmate Chelsea Handler.
7 a.m. Hair and makeup at NeueHouse. I NEED THIS BADLY. It’s been a week of zero sleep, since we’ve been reconfiguring our event in various ways since the election. My L.A. hair and makeup regulars, Kerry and Marilee, help me impersonate a high-energy human.
8 a.m. Head up to the rooftop to start our first-ever Women of the Year Live Summit. As I walk up the stairs, I can see that there are already over 100 women milling around, eating breakfast and waiting for the program to start. It’s overwhelmingly cool. We’ve been planning this for months, and to see all these young women there waiting excitedly brings a lump to my throat!
9 a.m. I welcome the audience to our day. I ask who’s found the last week (since the election) traumatic in some way, and lots of hands go up. Then I ask who needs inspiration now, and more hands go up.
9:15 a.m. I moderate the first panel of the day, “When a Woman Runs the Show,” featuring Marissa Mayer, Jenna Lyons, Issa Rae and Anne Sweeney all talking about their first 30 days being in charge. Fascinating conversation, and super-honest: Anne talks about being at a restaurant right after she got her job running ABC and hearing a guy at the next table—a guy she didn’t know—brag about how he “knew Anne Sweeney, and knew how to handle her.” Story after story like this, with great takeaway from the audience about how you handle things when you’re the boss. I start wishing my panel were an hour longer.
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Catch as many of the morning’s panels as I can, while sneaking out of the room to answer calls and solve last-minute snafus. A favorite panel: Lena Dunham, Maureen Dowd and Dolores Huerta talking about the election. “Don’t agonize, organize,” Lena tells the audience. People are lining up at the mics to ask them questions.
1:30 p.m. Listen to the day’s afternoon panels. Eva Chen gives brilliant advice on nailing your Instagram style. Ariel Winter opens up about social-media bullying. The Barbie team unveils the Barbie they’ve designed for Ashley Graham.
2:30 p.m. Last session. I moderate a conversation with Maria Shriver, the former First Lady of California whose women’s conferences first got me thinking about a WOTY summit.
2:50 p.m. Closing performance! The singer Tinashe sings famous quotes from notable women: Madonna, Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelou, Hillary Clinton. I head to my dressing room to finish writing my speech for tonight. #Procrastinator.
3:10 p.m. More important matters: Last review of the script for tonight’s tribute to Hillary Clinton. Lena Dunham has volunteered to direct, and her boyfriend Jack Antonoff has created a beautiful arrangement of “America the Beautiful.” Lump in my throat again as I read the lines Shonda Rhimes, Elizabeth Banks, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and others will be speaking tonight.
4:00 p.m. OK, NOW—back in dressing room. I settle in. It ain’t gonna be quick.
4:30 p.m. My husband arrives, and I practice my speech on him and my assistant Jenn while finishing hair and makeup. Change into my dress: Prada, in honor of our winner Miuccia. I am in awe of what she does.
5:30 p.m. Red carpet! I take pictures—how does anyone figure out how to stand comfortably on the red carpet? Still haven’t nailed that—and then get to the end of the carpet to greet guests as they arrive. I have fun and enjoy the magic.
6:55 p.m. Head backstage to prep for my speech. Split a much-needed glass of wine with Rashida Jones, who’s presenting right after me. Good for the nerves.
7:22 PM: I’m off! And survived. Now I can really enjoy things. Head to my seat and watch the rest of the show with the audience. The audience is very emotional tonight—more standing ovations than I can count. I think it’s the aftermath of the election, but whatever it is, I feel lucky to be here and so proud of our team for the work it took to put this together.
9:20 p.m. Show’s over, and we head next door for dinner with the winners and presenters. I’m sitting with Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, who are the most adorable couple. My husband and I invite ourselves to their ranch in Oklahoma. They laugh like they don’t realize we are DEAD SERIOUS.
12:45 p.m. Back at the Peninsula. Not gonna lie: I fall asleep with a full face of makeup and some false eyelashes still on. Regret nothing.