Arab & Israeli Women in Entertainment Unite for an Unprecedented Evening, Proving Art Can Transcend Religion and Politics, at ‘Stand Up 4 Her: Inspiration 2020’, Post-Event Press Release.

LOS ANGELES, MIDDLE EAST, WORLDWIDE – (December 19th 2020), Women Creating Change’s (WCC) Founder Lee Broda and the WCC team: Inbal-Rotem Sagiv, Natalie Marciano, Lidiyia Korotko, Natasha Kermani, Shelly Skandrani, Eliya Reis, Monia Ayachi, Maya Simchi, Rotem Basson as well as dozens of WCC members, presented an inspiring event featuring powerful performances by renowned female comedians, poets, storytellers, filmmakers and musicians who identify as Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Pakistani, Syrian or Turkish.

 “Women Creating Change was founded by female filmmakers and artists from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)” – stated WCC Founder, Lee Broda. “I’m thrilled to witness our community’s expansion! We started in my living room over three years ago and have grown to include more countries, and now over 100 talented MENA women in entertainment. We strive to create a space for collaborations within the organization, and honest substantive dialogue around today’s issues.” 
Due to the popularity of the event and upon request of our viewers, we have decided to share a private viewing link to the show recording – for all those who purchased tickets but couldn’t make it, and those who want to watch it again!
The online Gala, which has the viewers laughing, dancing and cheering, was launched with an inspiring video created by and featuring WCC members, giving a moving introduction to the organization’s mission; to bring together women of different beliefs, religions and political views from the Middle East and North Africa. “We seek to inspire change and bridge cultural divides, we believe that together we are stronger because our similarities are greater than our differences”. 
The event was hosted by hilarious comediennes Mona Shaikh and Batia Parnass, who highlighted comical elements of quarantine life! The first performance was stand-up with outstanding comedienne Noam Shuster Eliasi who had the viewers in stitches, and also shared a video about her experience at a Covid-19 quarantined hotel in Israel, where Arabs and Jews supported each other through their journey from illness to healing. 
The night continued with invigorating performances, some were funny, while others were inspiring, and left us with tears of hope!
The show featured exhilirating stand-up comediennes; Atheer Yacoub who laughed about being a gun owning American-Muslim in Alabama; Mona Shaikh who claimed that men who wanted virgins were just afraid of criticism; and Sara Fatemi, a Muslim woman who loves dating Jewish men, even though she can’t marry them!
Enter the thought-provoking and inspiring filmmakers who shared their incredible, produced pieces. Natasha Kermani showcased three breathtaking videos she directed and produced for female poets who talked about motherhood, womanhood and survival. Shelly Skandrani and Natalie Marciano created and performed in a comedic and sarcastic PSA about overcoming the stress of external expectations and supporting one another (featuring Dania Boustany). Shir Cohen shared a film about her travels in India and returning home straight into quarantine, and Yasmine Asha showed her incredibly moving music video which she directed for the famous Iraninan singer Googoosh.
A really unique idea was showcased by actresses Maya Simchi and Batia Parnass, each of whom created quirky and funny videos during quarantine, where they spliced their own acting into famous Hollywood movie scenes! 
The evening also boasted some astonishing original poetry which was performed by the poets themselves. Shelly Skandrani shared a poem about changing the narrative “I want to read books about women who came together, who used their combined strengths, against all odds and judgments”. Dania Boustany’s poem was about unexpected love, “His desire made him weak, so he hated her kind, and hated her power. But night after night, he found himself helpless against her words.”. Lee Broda’s poem was about kindness, “Be kind to people, my Safta whispered, you never know the heavy pebbles in their pockets, hardships collected, worn on their bodies”. Sanam Erfani performed her poem in Farsi about finding hope, “In you, Oh light of Existence, I was found, What fresh breath came to the hope of tomorrow, In your heart, Oh Beloved of the Universe, I am free.”
Of course no Benefit Gala would be complete without some sensational music by acclaimed musicians, to lift the spirits! Inbal-Rotem Sagiv sang beautifully about embracing life “The world coming open like a port, the pull of tides, the pains of birth, there’s a little sailboat captured in the fog, she keeps a lighthouse in her heart”. Meital Venus sang her catchy song Everyday Alive “Every day you show your love, knowing you will be there for me, makes me want to be alive”! Zein Khleif sang an inspiring song about healing scars, “I’m still healing my scars, burning bridges and paying dues”. 
A huge highlight came from famous Israeli singer and actress Ninet Tayeb (Winner of Israel’s Got Talent/ When Heroes Fly) who sang a tear-jerking song about the need to be reborn!
The fun, fast-paced and entertaining 90 minute show brought people together from all over the world and literally had viewers from FOUR CONTINENTS! They all shared the laughs and inspiration, while interacting in the chat throughout the show, in true support for one another, proving that art can truly cross boundaries and inspire unity! The fundraising benefit ended with a hopeful note from the hostesses, that we will soon be out of quarantine, and we’ll all be able to meet in person and hug each other again in UNITY!
The “Stand Up For Her” benefit is the high-point of WCC’s fundraising campaign “Inspiration 2020”, raising funds to expand the organization’s programs to advance Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) female filmmakers. The benefit was held in partnership with Saddle Ranch Pictures, Ramo Law, LB Entertainment, Yale Productions, Out Turn Productions, Payde Holdings, Abel Cine, Popcorn Factory and Above The Clouds.
In a time when people are keeping their social distance due to the pandemic, it is refreshing to come together for an evening and celebrate solidarity!
Attendees revelled in the evening’s ambitious program. WCC Executive Director, Inbal-Rotem Sagiv, concluded: “Stand Up 4 Her: Inspiration 2020 has truly been a culmination of our efforts to shine a spotlight on talented yet often marginalized artists. This evening’s success is a significant win for WCC, so are the funds we raised together to benefit our community – allowing us to create more opportunities, open more doors and provide a home-away-from-home for a growing community of female artists.”