Twitter had a field day with the glaring lack of women in this photo.

On September 14, 2015, Vanity Fair tweeted ... this.

The "titans" of late-night comedy pulled on their most dapper suits and enjoyed a few stiff ones for a Vanity Fair photo shoot.


The accompanying article, which is titled, "Why Late-Night Television Is Better Than Ever," appears in the magazine's October issue. It focuses on the state of comedy after dark and the recent influx of host switch-ups. Boy oh boy (literally), it looked like a lot of fun.

But a glaring oversight caught readers' attention: How can late night TV be "better than ever," yet still lack a single female host?

Of the 10 comedians featured in Vanity Fair's spread, three are named James, but zero are women. And, while we're at it, only two are people of color, and none are LGBT.


Although we may love our Jimmys, let's admit it: Late-night television (and comedy in general) has a bit of a white male problem. This, although still disappointing, is not news. It's the status quo.

Two Jimmys for the price of one. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

So how can we call this new era in late night the "best yet" while the genre has failed to produce a single show with a woman behind its desk?

To be completely fair, the Vanity Fair article itself even points out how absurd it is that, still, there's not one woman steering a late-night ship:

"How gobsmackingly insane is it that no TV network has had the common sense — and that's all we're talking about in 2015, not courage, bravery, or even decency — to hand over the reins of an existing late-night comedy program to a female person?"

Fortunately, Vanity Fair's "better than ever" assertion didn't go unnoticed on Twitter.

It didn't take long for tweets to start filling news feeds pointing to the lunacy of late night's boys club. Some were hilarious, others dropped some serious truth bombs.

Like Mark Harris, who can read minds.


And Sebastian Nebel, who experienced some serious side effects.


Kristy Sammis, who wasn't outraged.


And James Poniewozik, who pointed out this makes the GOP look progressive.


Mogul, who said what we were all thinking.


My own editor, Rebecca Eisenberg, who highlighted a detail many had overlooked.


Jordan Holmes, who pointed to an obvious biological reason.


Anita Flores, who needs a time machine ASAP.


And Samantha Bee, who will helm her own late-night show starting in January on TBS, responded with a flawless correction:

Despite there being plenty of qualified women out there, not one has headlined a late-night program since 1986.

More and more women in comedy are breaking down barriers (why, hello, Mindy Kaling), tearing up at the box office (I'm looking at you, Amy Schumer), producing some of the funniest shows on television (enter Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), and proving that, yes, audiences can appreciate a woman being funny after dark (shoutout to Chelsea Handler). But after Joan Rivers became the first female late-night host on a major TV network in 1986, no other woman has sat in a similar seat.

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Turner Image.

We should expect more of "the best time in late night comedy" than a photo spread featuring (almost) all white and exclusively male comedians. It is 2015, after all.

Here's to hoping the next late-night spread looks a little bit different from this one.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!