Hollywood is no longer a man’s world. The success of September Issue and Julie & Julia prove that films featuring the lives of successful women are box office moneymakers. At the same time, the two movies highlight the sacrifices women must make to ascend to the top of their careers.
Anna Wintour, Editor of Vogue and center of September Issue, is considered the most important figure in the $300 billion fashion industry. But her success has come at a price. The dark side of her win-at-any-cost reputation was made famous by the 2006 film, The Devil Wears Prada. In contrast, Julia Child was a culinary icon with a far friendlier image than her Nuclear Wintour counterpart. But in Child’s case, her single-minded focus on raising U.S. gastronomy was free from the responsibilities of motherhood.
“For women to rise through the professional ranks, usually something’s got to give,” says Myra Nourmand, author of From Homemaker to Breadwinner. Nourmand is known as the First Lady of Beverly Hills real estate. Her client list comprises of Hollywood producers and actors, top business consultants, lawyers, doctors, and corporate executives. She is also the mother of three grown children: her daughter is a physician, her son is a Hollywood graphic design specialist, and her youngest son is President of the family real estate brokerage, Nourmand & Associates. And she has been married to Saeed Nourmand for 39 years. How did she do it?
“Dream big and get organized,” says Nourmand, who was recently recognized for her community service by Haddassah, the U.S.’s largest volunteer organization. She attributes her success to motherhood. “Your time changes when you become a mom: you’re juggling your kids’ schedules, preparing meals, and if you’re lucky, the highlight of your day is taking a shower – uninterrupted.” According to Nourmand, being a mom teaches women to multi-task, which gives them a competitive edge.
Nourmand acknowledges the challenges that women with families face. Beverly Hills is famous not only for its residents but their heartbreaking lives as well: divorces, teen drug addiction, and family dysfunction run rampant in 90210. “Nowadays, it’s too easy to call a marriage quits and to break up your family. I see it everyday where I live,” says Nourmand. She recognizes that marriage and motherhood isn’t easy, but the rewards far outweigh any stress. Her family, who live throughout Los Angeles, meet every week for dinner, and she regularly takes care of her two grandchildren. “My daughter and son-in-law are in New York this week, so I’m taking care of my four-year-old granddaughter. I work full time, so it’s been a challenge,” says Nourmand.
Maintaining excellence in career, family, marriage, and community engagement is an overwhelming task. And given the strains of the current recession many women are facing even bigger challenges: job loss, becoming a breadwinner, or being forced back to work. Nourmand has seen the fallout in her business as well. The current downturn is by far the worst she’s experienced in her 20-plus year career, but she remains optimistic. “It’s all about perception. You can feel sorry for yourself, or you can embrace what’s in front of you and make the best of it. Always ask, ‘How am I going to make this work?’ Suddenly, you’ll see opportunities and ways to get through tough times,” says Nourmand.