Keri Russell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan & More Remember ‘Waitress’ Filmmaker Adrienne Shelly

Her hit film 'Waitress' erupted into a Broadway smash. Almost 100 women have been granted the opportunity to write and direct films in her name. You know her words, and you know her influence. Adrienne Shelly was a force in filmmaking, a pioneer for women in the business, and a woman who was taken far too soon. Hollywood stars, friends and family came out to honor Adrienne and raise money for women in film.

Women only make up 6% of directing roles in filmmaking. Their films are commonly underfunded and under-appreciated, making it difficult for them to get recognized. Adrienne Shelly, with the odds of gender against her, became a female leader in writing and directing films. Her life was tragically cut short, but her legacy lives on through the Adrienne Shelly Foundation: Supporting Women In Film, started by her husband shortly after her death. On Dec. 5, in the same synagogue in which Adrienne married her husband Andy Ostroy, friends and family gathered to remember the trailblazer with live-readings of her unpublished work and performances by the Waitress cast, all while raising funds and awareness for women in film.

“I knew she was a struggling filmmaker and it just seemed like the natural thing to do was to create a foundation,” Andy told EXCLUSIVELY. “I just started the foundation, pulled together some great people and set out to help women get their work produced.” Since its start in 2007, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation has helped over 60 women develop their films. With the hard work of dedicated of board members, which include Hilarie Burton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Paul Rudd and Julie Yaeger, each year, more women have found support in Adrienne’s legacy.

“As a young woman in the film industry, Adrienne represented exactly what I wanted to do with my life in the business. I was on a teen drama where it was all middle-aged men telling me what to do, and wear and say and act and the idea that a woman write, direct, act and produce their on body of work that was astonishing to me,” Hilarie told EXCLUSIVELY at the event. “I think Adrienne set a bar for women in our business and set it very high and it’s something awesome to aspire to.”

Adrienne wrote and directed three films before her life was tragically cut short at the age of 40. Her films had strong feminist undertones and defied the norm of the early 2000s. After years in front of the camera in indie films, Adrienne took matters into her own hands and pushed through the behind-the-camera barrier. She wrote, directed and starred in I’ll Take You There in 1999, which won a number of awards and honorable mentions. However, Adrienne’s legacy truly thrived in her last film Waitress, which she was never able to see succeed.

Her final piece of work, Adrienne wrote, directed, co-set and co-costume designed Waitress. She also starred in the film, alongside Cheryl Hines and Keri Russell. The small indie film that focused on women standing up to violence and finding an outlet for their fear and sadness, erupted into a Broadway hit in the last year with music written by Sara Bareilles.

Keri Russell & Matthew Rhys — PICS!

“It’s been incredible. Ten years later, for this little movie she created to be this smash success on Broadway. I often joke if she was around, that would kill her. It’s phenomenal,” Andy said of Waitress’s Broadway success.

“Her scripts always had crazy women, who do crazy stuff, often with violence, guns, cheating! She was such a feminist and each of these characters, it’s all about female empowerment. Women who were down on their luck who just take the world by the horns and own it,” Andy continued. “Adrienne always wanted to write and direct, so she could control her destiny. Create the content, control the content and I think women who do that, it’s hard for them to make movies,” Andy continued. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation strives to make that change.

It works, every day, to find the unknown, underfunded Angelina Jolie‘s, Ava DuVernay‘s, Kathryn Bigelow‘s and Adrienne Shelly’s around the world. Women who have an artistic eye and creative mind, who were born to give direction and lead, as Adrienne was.

Adrienne Shelly is no longer with us, but her spirit lives on in each woman that yells “Action;” her words are survived by every mom that bakes homemade pies with her daughter. “Gonna make a pie from heaven above, gonna be filled with strawberry love/Baby don’t you cry, gonna make a pie, and hold you forever in the middle of my heart.”

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