Founder of the Golden Image Awards
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Marilyn Artis, 49, is the founder and executive producer of the Golden Image Awards, which she describes as “a pageant for women over 60 who wear their age like a crown.” The annual pageants, Broadway productions the public can buy tickets for, started in 1992.
Currently, Artis’ company is accepting applications from women all over the country for its 2009 show, scheduled for May 8, and the deadline is December 31 this year. Women over 60 from all walks of life who are special in some way are eligible to apply. “It can be just a housewife; housewives are exceptional too,” explained Artis, of Jamaica.
Out of all the applicants, 25 women are selected. They rehearse for the show in New York City for 10 weeks, spending time with image and makeup consultants as well as with dance and modeling instructors. “We treat them like queens,” Artis said, explaining that women dedicate this period solely to themselves.
The pageant winner receives several prizes, including a Caribbean cruise, a laptop and a lingerie gift certificate, according to the Golden Image website.
Artis is also a motivational speaker. For example, she conducts workshops in schools throughout the country about prom etiquette.
“People are my livelihood. That’s my biggest joy - making people happy,” she said.
PERSONAL: Artis, who is married but has no children, is also good at making herself happy. She follows her own advice to women, which is, “No matter what’s going on in your life, you have to take care of yourself.” That’s why on any given day she makes sure that she looks her best. Also, she walks three to five miles every day. “It keeps me firm. When I’m walking, I can think.”
INSPIRATION: The wisdom of older women is what motivates Artis to be their advocate by organizing the Golden Image pageant for them. “Always have an older person around you - they’ll keep you grounded,” she said.
In fact, Artis is now compiling all the wisdom about life that she has received from older women in a book. “It has to go on the record; it has to be passed. It’s going to be the bible of wisdom,” she said, explaining that she expects the book of golden tips to come out next year.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The biggest problem Artis said she faces is finding money to produce the show, which costs about $250,000. Typical show sponsors include banks and corporations, she said. Participating in the show is free for the women except for a non-refundable application fee of $65 dollars and the housing and traveling expenses for those from outside of New York City.
FAVORITE MEMORY: Artis doesn’t have just one memory in particular that is her favorite; instead, every time she sees how the women “come in and change in 10 weeks” turns into a fond moment. “One thing we don’t do when we get older is meet new friends,” she said, noting that the pageant provides many opportunities to network.