This award recognizes and honors men in Hollywood who have a strong track record of serving as vocal allies of and effective advocates for women in entertainment.
2018 Athena Leading Man
J.J. Abrams is a writer, director and producer and the founder of Bad Robot Productions. Abrams wrote or co-write films such as Regarding Henry, Forever Young, Joy Ride and Armageddon before co-creating the Golden Globe-nominated television show Felicity with Matt Reeves. He followed that with Alias and the Emmy Award-winning series Lost (which he created with Damon Lindelof). Abrams received an Emmy for directing the Lost pilot episode, and went on to produce series such as Fringe and Person of Interest. In 2006, Abrams directed his first feature film, Mission Impossible: III, and followed that with the critically-praised hit films Star Trek, Super 8 and Star Trek Into Darkness – each scored by longtime collaborator Michael Giacchino. In 2015 Abrams directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which he also produced and co-wrote with Lawrence Kasdan. Abrams has continued with the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek franchises as a producer, while also launching his own film franchise with the Cloverfield series.He will next produce, direct and co-write (with Chris Terrio) Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams is currently producing the television series Westworld, Castle Rock and Lovecraft Country and the films Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mission: Impossible 6, God Particle and Overlord. In addition to his film and television work, Abrams also conceived the novel S. with writer Doug Dorst, which became a New York Times Best Seller in 2013, and is currently producing The Play That Goes Wrong, which premiered on Broadway in April of this year.
David Oyelowo is the 2017 Athena Leading Man Award recipient. He has consistently worked with and championed female directors throughout his career. His work with Ava DuVernay in Selma earned him Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award® nominations and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. Last year he starred in Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe and in February 2017 will be seen starring opposite Rosamund Pike in A United Kingdom for director Amma Assante. Additional credits include Nightingale (for which he won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor), A Most Violent Year, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Middle of Nowhere, among others. Oyelowo is currently appearing in the New York Theater Workshop’s production of “Othello” along with Daniel Craig.
2016 Athena Leading Man
Inaugural Athena Leading Man Award
Celebrating his extraordinary body of work, support and outspoken stance for women throughout his career, director, actor, producer and screenwriter Paul Feig is the first male to ever be honored by the festival. Feig has been supportive of women in the industry throughout his career, highlighting gender disparity in entertainment and casting female leads in his successful directorial efforts, including Spy, The Heat, and Bridesmaids. Feig recently completed directing the highly anticipated remake of Ghostbusters, starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. A three-time EMMY nominated writer/director and DGA Award winner, Feig is the creator of the television series Freaks and Geeks (Time’s 100 Greatest Shows of All Time) and the director and co-executive producer of The Office and has directed numerous television series.