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In Oscars Twitter ad, prominent women declare #HereWeAre

Ava Duvernay, Issa Rae and a host of other big names in entertainment and tech appear in a poetic 2018 Academy Awards Twitter TV spot supporting women's voices.


"Wrinkle in Time" director Ava Duvernay is one of the women looking into the camera to say #HereWeAre.

Screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

With the Academy Awards typically one of the most tweeted events of the year, Twitter itself hopes to get in on the momentum Sunday with a TV spot that resurfaces a hashtag born to spotlight women's visibility (or lack thereof) in the tech industry.

That hashtag, #HereWeAre, first appeared late last year to announce a group of female leaders scheduled to hit Twitter's 2018 CES stage for an event focused on women in tech. The event grew out of an earlier tweet from Twitter Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland, who urged CES to #changetheratio after noting the lack of women slated for keynote speeches.  

Sunday's artsy black and white TV spot, Twitter's first Academy Awards television ad, leverages #HereWeAre as part of a broader call for female empowerment. It features women's faces flashing across the screen as writer Denice Frohman recites one of her poems: "I heard a woman becomes herself the first time she speaks without permission …  Say beautiful, and point to the map of your body. Say brave, and wear your skin like a gown … Say hero and cast yourself in the lead role."

Women who appear on screen as the poetry rolls include actress, writer and producer Issa Rae and director Ava Duvernay, whose upcoming fantasy film, "A Wrinkle in Time," has a budget topping $100 million, making her the first black woman to direct a live-action film with coffers that large.

Other participants include Oracle executive Jennifer Renaud, and female Twitter employees, including Nola Weinstein, senior director of marketing and communications and one of the people who helped bring #HereWeAre to life at CES.

At the end of the powerful spot, the #HereWeAre hashtag appears on screen, followed by the iconic Twitter bird. 

The ad comes as hashtags like #MeToo and #TimesUp have made Twitter, and social media in general, a prominent forum for discussions around social issues of the day.

Just as other awards ceremonies this season have spotlighted the global #MeToo movement that started in Hollywood, so will Sunday's Oscars ceremony. Host Jimmy Kimmel mentioned #MeToo and the scourge of sexual harassment in his opening monologue.

"We will remember this year as the year men screwed up so badly, women started dating fish," he joked about the plot of the Oscar-nominated film "Shape of Water."

Women in tech have also been a central topic of discussion of late, with a recent large study revealing that when it comes to gender, workplaces are far less diverse than many like to think, and high-profile women like Melinda Gates promoting the importance of women in STEM careers.

Other tech companies besides Twitter plan to make #MeToo statements during Sunday's broadcast. In a Google ad that backs the movement, a dad talks to his teen son, via a Nest connected home device, about the importance of respecting women. 

Solving for XX: The tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."

Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here's your place for the lighter side of tech.