Challenging Perception through Film, POWER UP 

POWER UP, Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching Up, was announced on October 11, 2000, (National Coming Out Day) in Daily Variety’s first-ever “Gays in Hollywood” issue, by founder and executive director Stacy Codikow and co-founder Amy Shomer. The mission is to promote the visibility and integration of gay women in entertainment, the arts, and all forms of media. The members are women and men, gay and straight, who share a singular purpose – to promote diversity by supporting our mission. 

Over the past five years, POWER UP has awarded filmmaking grants totaling over 1.5 million dollars, a mixture of sponsorships and in-kind services from studios and production houses. The films are produced through the filmgrant program under the guidance of POWER UP, which serves as the studio.   

The grant films premiere at the Power Premiere, the organization’s annual fundraiser. They have been showcased to an industry crowd at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel and Beverly Hills Hotel. The Honorees of the Power Premiere have been Alan Poul (Executive Producer Six Feet Under), Melissa Etheridge (Grammy winning singer-songwriter), Jerry Offsay (President, Programming Showtime Networks Inc.), Jehan Agrama (GLAAD co-founder and community activist), Laura Innes (actress/director), Bravo Network, and Judith Light (Emmy Award winning actress/activist) Jennifer Beals (Actress) here TV, John Paul DeJoria (philanthropist) and Ilene Chaiken (creator of "the L word").

POWER UP also publishes its annual list of Top 10 Most Powerful Gay Women in Showbiz/ 10 Amazing Gay Women in Showbiz..   Past recipient Nina Jacobson, President of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group stated "I am honored to be included in the POWER UP list.  I hope that as an out lesbian and working mom, I can inspire others to pursue all of their goals, personal and professional, no matter how many people tell you that one must be sacrificed for the other.  At the same time, my thoughts are with all of those who are unable to come out because of the lack of civil rights protection for gay and lesbian people in many parts of this country - and the world."

The POWER UP films have won over 70 National & International Awards, have been an Official Selection of hundreds of Film Festivals, have been an Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival for the past 4 years,  have been the Grand Prize winner of the Planet Out Film Festival for the past 4 years and have played on the Sundance Channel, LOGO, Here TV and QTV.

POWER UP grantee Jessica Sharzer, wrote/directed SPEAK for Showtime Networks Inc. SPEAK premiered as an Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival and Sharzer is currently writting/directing a 70 mil dollar feature for Universal Pictures..  

Lee Friedlander directed 2 feature films since her POWER UP grant, WASABI TUNA and GIRL PLAY.  She is developing a TV series for LOGO Entertainment.

Buboo Kakati was in the top 10 finalists for Project Greenlight, she was the only woman.

Angela Robinson wrote/directed the feature film D.E.B.S. for Sony/ScreenGems based on her POWER UP short D.E.B.S.  Both films premiered as an Official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival.  Robinson has written and directed for the series THE L WORD and directed the 70 million dollar HERBIE : Fully Loaded for Disney.  She has a two year overall deal with Disney and just sold a milion dollar pitch to NewLine Cinema.   

Cherien Dabis is a staff writer on the Showtime series "the L word."

Continuing to promote the visibility of gay women through alliances with film festivals and other allied non-profits nationally, We are proud of success and diverse national membership that POWER UP has achieved in under 5 years and look forward to producing more shorts and taking POWER UP into feature films for a wider audience appeal and the ability to continue to challenge perception through film.