Delivering emotion, inspiration and entertainment during an awards ceremony is no easy feat. But when Linda Wells is brought on board, anything is possible. This year’s CEW Women’s Leadership Awards event will feature a 10-minute video whereby Linda, the founding editor of Allure and overall beauty insider powerhouse, interviews this year’s CEW Achiever Honorees, getting to the heart of their drive and defining moments throughout their careers. Linda, along with uber video creative, Nathan Byrne, Founder/Editor/Creative Lead of Moss Studio, oversaw hours and hours of footage captured during interviews, workspaces and on the streets of Manhattan. The labor of their efforts will be revealed September 9 during CEW’s Women’s Leadership Awards virtual event. Here, Linda talks about her time with this year’s brightest minds.

Beauty News: You were the inspiration behind the style of these interviews and the video that was created. How do you think the project ultimately played out?
Linda Wells: When Carlotta [Jacobson, CEW’s President] asked me to create a video for the Achiever Awards, I immediately wanted to try something different than the typical corporate tribute video and aim for a more inspirational and entertaining experience. It needed emotional power—that’s always what I’m after, no matter what the project. I thought if we could combine movie and TV footage of women at work with uplifting historical moments and use that to surround these Achievers, who are inspirational and groundbreaking in their own right, we might have something that would put their stories in context and lift the viewer, too. It also seemed right to celebrate beauty and CEW’s role in supporting women and beauty. Music and movement and a narrative arc were crucial. And then the challenge was, how to do all that in one video that was less than 24 hours long.

Thank the good lord for Nathan Byrne, the founder of Moss Studio and the greatest collaborator imaginable. We’d never worked together and, boy, did I luck out! We had umpteen hours of interview footage because we approached the process as journalists, without a real preconception of what we’d get. And, yes, that might’ve been insane. It was a daunting task, but Nathan devoted himself to the work with enormous cheer and fortitude. Not only that, he spent one Saturday night watching “9 to 5”! What a way to make a living!

BN: Did you observe any commonalities among the executives seeing as they are all such successful businesswomen in beauty?
LW: I was so awed by the achievers. Of course, I knew about their accomplishments, but I didn’t know what motivated and fulfilled them— what was in their hearts. Each one had a higher purpose—a real mission—to their work. They each had reached a level of success and now felt a desire to help other women. And they each had a real work ethic that started in childhood. It was amazing to me how they were so united in their principles and their vision.

BN: Was there anyone you were particularly interested in meeting? Talk about how this experience.
LW: I knew and admired Holly Thaggard; I presented her with her first CEW Beauty Award many years ago. Her accomplishments knock me out! I had worked with Monica Arnaudo and JuE Wong, but never had the chance to connect with them on a more emotional level. I learned that JuE did a 300-mile trek in Portugal, three days of which were on a sprained ankle. Talk about grit! I love the way Gail Boyé looks at the world and finds product inspiration everywhere. She told me about seeing her husband’s shoe polish on the counter one morning and how it later flashed in her mind as an idea for an eyeliner. I would’ve just been annoyed that he hadn’t put away his shoe polish. Lisa Sequino combines an ability to set lofty goals with an understanding of the practical, visceral, even earthy pleasures of beauty. I was blown away by Lela Coffey and the clarity with which she explained her mission. She could easily run for office if she wanted to. And I could’ve talked to Cara Sabin for days. We laughed together and got a little teary, and then we popped champagne at the end. Monica and I talked and laughed so much that she missed her plane, and I still feel awful about that. Monica, forgive me!

Be sure to attend CEW’s 2021 Women’s Leadership Awards virtual event September 9. All registered attendees will receive exclusive first access to a keepsake digital journal featuring personal stories and pictures of the day’s Honorees, as well as a virtual gift bag.

Related Story: 5 Reasons Not to Miss CEW’s Women’s Leadership Awards Virtual Event