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.
2019 Athena Leading Man Award
Cameron Bailey was recently named the co-head of the Toronto Film Festival after working as its Artistic Director since 2012. A former film critic, Bailey is a stalwart advocate for diversity and inclusion in film. He joined the festival as a programmer in 1990, moving up to become the festival’s co-director, artist director and now the co-head. During his tenure, he has brought a number of female-centric films and filmmakers into the spotlight, and we are grateful for his leadership.
2018 Athena Leading Man
J.J. Abrams P ’22 is a writer, director and producer, and the founder of Bad Robot Productions. Abrams wrote or co-wrote 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). 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. In 2015, Abrams directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which he also produced and co-wrote with Lawrence Kasdan. He just wrapped producing, directing and co-writing with Chris Terrio, Star Wars: Episode: The Rise of Skywalker. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, co-CEO of Bad Robot, live in Los Angeles and have three children.
2017 Athena Leading Man
David Oyelowo has consistently worked with and championed women 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. In 2016, he starred in Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe and in February 2017 starred 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. Oyelowo also appeared in the New York Theater Workshop’s production of Othello along with Daniel Craig.
2016 Inaugural Athena Leading Man Award
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 directed 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.