How These HBO Women Turned Adversity Into Opportunity

By Allie Waxman

Phoebe Robinson, Yvonne Orji and Ann Dowd got personal at the Glamour Women of the Year Summit.


With as much glitz and, ah, glamour as there were heartfelt speeches, the Glamour Summit brought together top female leaders and activists to empower each other and create meaningful change. The robust agenda featured diverse panels and speeches about entrepreneurship (“there was no such thing as traditional start-up experience”), overcoming self-doubt (“I stopped comparing myself with others — and relaxed”), finding self-love (“We are all imperfectly beautiful”) and surviving through adversity ("The more strong women in the world, the stronger the world gets”).

Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens) served as event’s emcee and participated in a panel called “The Benefits of Being an Outlier.” In addition to Robinson, Yvonne Orji (Insecure) and Ann Dowd (The Leftovers) shared their “My Woman Rise Moments,” singling out the specific moments that pushed them to stay the course to achieve their dreams.

“Women have been kicking ass nonstop this year.”

— Phoebe Robinson

Women Rise

“The theme of the day is ‘women rise,’” Robinson remarked at its onset. Noting how the summit bore some similarities to 2 Dope Queens — women supporting each other while still having fun — Robinson encouraged audience members to embrace those philosophies as they moved through the day.

“I feel like I learned my biggest lessons from other women,” said Robinson, sharing a few: “Support each other, stop telling yourself, ‘no,’ don’t worry about what other people do, don’t count yourself out, stop saying ‘sorry.’” Her lessons were echoed by numerous speakers, including fellow HBO stars Yvonne Orji and Ann Dowd.

“I’m not the doctor that my parents wanted me to be, but I’m definitely fulfilling my purpose.”

— Yvonne Orji

“I Listened to That Inner Voice”

Orji spoke of her journey to comedy, which she credits to her strengthened relationship with God. While Orji’s inner voice was loud and clear, her journey to “Molly” wasn’t always as easy. “After moving to New York I found myself with zero dollars and zero leads … and that’s not sexy,” the actor recalled. Propelled by her inner voice telling her to say “yes” to opportunities, Orji’s career began to turn around. “There was a lot of hustle and there were a lot of setbacks,” she explained, but it wasn’t for nothing: “I’m not the doctor that my parents wanted me to be, but I’m definitely fulfilling my purpose.”

Orji ended her speech with some heartfelt advice for the audience. “Inside all of us exists some kind of compass — whether it's divine or otherwise — but it's something desperately trying to navigate us to the life we know we were destined to live. So I think the choice is pretty simple: Keep letting fear sidetrack you — or take what you've been given … and say ‘yes.’ But whatever it is, keep going.”

“Let the world know in no uncertain time what you plan to do.”

— Ann Dowd

“I Created My Own Timeline”

Although known for her challenging roles and earth-shattering performances, Ann Dowd got her “big break” as an actor at age 56. She was candid about the frustration she felt in her early days and the inner voice that drove her to keep going.

“It is not for others to say, ‘no,’ ‘yes,’ anything — you are in charge. That is the gift you came into this world with.” Like Orji’s, Dowd’s speech was ingrained with poignant advice.

Here’s are some of Dowd’s most poignant words of wisdom:

· “Keep your love story alive—and by love story, I mean the love you have for the work that you do—for it is a pure and powerful dynamic, and it will sustain you.”

· “Take many trips out of your head and into your heart and soul. That is where freedom lives.”

· “You do not have to be the best. That's a whole lot of pressure, darlings. Say no to it.”