The annual Women of Color Collective (WoCC) Alumnae Reception took place on March 8, which happened to be International Women’s Day. “There is no better day to celebrate women of color and intersectional community building,” said WoCC co-chair Devika Balaram ’19, in introducing the event. “We all need to be reminded that movements make change, and that our chances of success are often stronger when we work together.”
Dean Trevor Morrison also spoke of the event as an opportunity to celebrate the role that WoCC plays in the NYU Law community. “WoCC has in a relatively short time become one of the most lively, active, important, and impactful student organizations here at the Law School,” said Morrison.
Each year at the Alumnae Reception, WoCC honors an alumna with the Woman of Distinction Award. This year’s honoree was Lisa Marie Boykin ’95, senior vice president for business and legal affairs at Annapurna Pictures. A Hollywood powerhouse who has previously held positions at the Walt Disney Company, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and PBS, Boykin is also an active NYU Law alumna and serves on the board of the Law Alumni of Color Association.
In accepting her award from WoCC co-chairs Balaram and Alice Hong ’19, Boykin recalled that, when she was a law student, she would often feel intimidated by the accomplishments and success of the speakers who came to the Law School. “I always felt like I was looking over at someone whose life was perfect, and I couldn’t really relate,” she said. Noting that the theme of the night was “Building Bridges: Scaling Summits,” Boykin observed that although it’s common to talk about the metaphorical scaling of summits, “we don’t talk as much about how we overcome setbacks and disappointments.”
Rather than speaking of her many achievements, Boykin shared one of her own very personal struggles. A year ago, Boykin said, she was working as in-house counsel at Walt Disney. She’d recently gotten back together with her college boyfriend and was looking forward to a two-week vacation. Out of the blue, she received a job offer from Annapurna Pictures that was too exciting to pass up—a chance to be a part of a company run by women intent on knocking down many of the barriers that women face in Hollywood. So she left her job at Disney, and took her planned vacation, excited to start a new chapter of her career upon her return.
But when she returned to California, her boyfriend was hospitalized with major heart issues, then passed away shortly afterward. Boykin was devastated. Even through her intense pain and grief, however, she said, “I thought about how your outlook really defines your experience and your decision to face problems and challenges and to not let them defeat you. And I also learned through this experience the power and importance of serving others. This past year, I volunteered for boards, I got involved, I remained engaged and active as I tried to pick up the pieces of my personal life and deal with recovering.”
The law school experience—like all of life—Boykin said, is often filled with ups and downs: “Some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.” Boykin said she is thankful that WoCC exists to provide a space for students to find support if and when they struggle.
Posted March 22, 2018