We’re not sure which is more exciting: that the ever-glossy and beautiful Los Angeles Magazine is unveiling it’s first ever ‘L.A. Woman’ Issue … or that Maria Shriver is crowned queen.
The 49-page portfolio is not just about women in this city (there are plenty), but it is instead an exploration of LA’s super-women, meta-women, mega-women – women who don’t just look good and sound good when they’re in front of the camera, but women who do good by this city.
‘The L.A. Woman’ celebrates the debut of Maria Shriver 2.0. We are reminded of her long-standing dedication to women’s issues (eight years ago, Shriver took over The Women’s Conference and it quickly became the nation's premier forum for women) but it also reminds us of her journalistic past: the cover story is not a traditional article about Maria at all, instead, she sits down for a spirited conversation, a frank and real back-and-forth, with none other than LA’s Wallis Annenberg.
Shriver faces a super woman truly her equal as she sits and talks with Annenberg, one of the city’s most generous and forward-thinking philanthropists. There is no denying that Los Angeles is a city spread apart; we have to make efforts to travel to see one other, efforts to find new ways to connect. Wallis Annenberg has dedicated her time, energy and funds to create shared cultural spaces within our city’s walls where we can all meet, play and live. From The Annenberg Space For Photography (my favorite place in this city) to the easy, breezy Annenberg Community Beach House – and the currently-under-construction Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, this L.A. grande dame (she’ll deny it!) is an integral link in Los Angeles’ cultural DNA.
Both Maria and Wallis are mothers of four and daughters of famous families. Here's a sneak peak from their candid conversation, on newsstands later this week:
MS: Is it hard to be a woman in Los Angeles in your opinion? WA: Now that I'm in my seventies, it's easy. What was necessary was to make friends with other women so you don't feel isolated or alone. When I moved here in the '60s, Beverly Hills was a big attraction because of the fabulous public school system. I wanted my four children to have that experience, having been chauffeur driven to school myself. Of course when I was younger, I certainly thought, "Beverly Hills? They're going to think, you know, I'm ugly." We thought everybody was a size four or under. A lot of issues with beauty. But at this stage in my life I'm long beyond that.
MS: Sometimes when someone invites you to a meeting, you must know they're not inviting you because you're Wallis and they just love you and you're so entertaining. Doesn't that ever bother you? WA: Not even a bit. MS: Oh, come on. WA: Maria, it doesn't. MS: But you know they're inviting you for your money. WA: I am grateful to be invited, period. You know, when I was at TV Guide, I had my experiences with show business. The screenings, the parties--they'd practically pick me up in a gold chariot. But I was smart enough to see it was about TV Guide. I never fooled myself that it was me. After Murdoch bought the magazine and eventually I was fired, I knew the party was over.
MS: So many people have lost jobs or lose status, and they think it's the end of the world and they can't pick themselves up and they don't know where to go. Did you ever have a moment like that in your life where you thought, "I'm done, I'm finished"? WA: When I was young, yes. After my divorce [in 1975]--before I had gone to work or anything--I thought, "Nobody's going to invite me. I'm not going to have any friends because I'm single." Yes, I certainly fell into that kind of depression. Until George Frelinghuysen--he was a big, very eccentric socialite here in Los Angeles at the time--called to invite me to dinner. And I said, "George, I better tell you something. Um, I'm not married anymore." He said, "We don't want him. We want you." Remember, this was before the days when a woman could go places alone. I had all my charge accounts closed down, and I was paying the bills! Tell me how that makes sense! Anyway, when he said to me, "We don't give a damn about him, we want you," it gave me a lot of courage. It's always wonderful to feel included. On every level. Whether you go or you don't go, I've never known anyone if my life who was insulted by an invitation.
MS: You talk about it being an honor and a privilege to be in this family and to be able to give out money to make a difference to be worthy of the name. It all feels like you haven't really struggled with it that much. I don't actually really believe that, is there anything that scares you, that worries you, that keeps you up at night, that makes you feel insecure? WA: It's so corny, Maria, but it's so true: If you live one day at a time, you really don't get into fear. And I try to do that. I stay out of results and just try to accomplish whatever I can. MS: How do you stay out of fear? WA: By being a loving human being. That's the only way I know. By being of service. By surrounding yourself with positive people. By being grateful. And I am very grateful. That is the truth. There by the grace of God go I.
Maria Shriver anchors the first ever 'L.A. Woman' issue of Los Angeles Magazine, on newsstands and online later this week.
CORRECTION: This news entry has been edited to correct the following: Maria Shriver took over running The Women's Conference in 2003 but did not found it.