Variety Celebrates Activism at Annual Power of Women Event

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (9626610ar) Viola Davis and Tarana Burke Variety's Power of Women presented by Lifetime, Arrivals, Cipriani Wall Street, New York, USA - 13 Apr 2018

Variety’s fifth annual Power of Women luncheon played host to an electrifying array of the entertainment industry’s most prominent female activists and supporters.

The “Lifetime Impact Honorees” have taken large strides in opening up conversation towards female empowerment and education, along with bringing justice to sexual misconduct in the workplace.

The exclusive event of over 400 entertainment and media insiders gathered at New York’s Cipriani on Wall Street this past Friday morning. Host Samantha Bee kicked the off the night by saying “as I look out at this room of hundreds of women, I can’t help, but feel inspired and totally safe knowing that this is Mike Pence’s personal hell.”

Honorees included #MeToo movement founder, Tarana Burke, actor Emily Blunt, representing the Malala Fund, Tina Fey, for Reading is Fundamental, The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, on behalf of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and singer Alicia Keys, for Keep a Child Alive.

The luncheon was presented by Lifetime, and sponsored by both Karma Automotive and SheaMoisture. Padma Lakshmi received the Karma Award and Tamron Hall was presented with the SheaMoisture Community Commerce Impact Award.

Presenters included actor Emily Mortimer, and Oscar-winner Viola Davis, who preceded and introduced Burke to the stage, not before hailing her a modern hero and shedding light on how rape disproportionately affects women of color in particular.

Burke vowed to extend her work past just it’s recent uproar on digital media. “It is a mistake to think of this as a moment. Movements are long, and they are built over time. Movements are made from moments,” said Burke.

She concluded her speech with a moving invitation that echoed throughout the hall. “If you are ready to change the world, if you are ready to join this movement, if you are ready to do the work that’s necessary to end sexual violence, I can only leave you with these two words: Me too.”

Keys opened up about her contribution to Keep a Child Alive, which provides relief for women and children affected by the AIDS disease, but not before calling attention to current issues regarding police brutality and people of color. “I will never stop saying their names,” said Keys referring to a multitude of black men killed during encounters with law-enforcement officers.

Blunt was honored for her work with the Malala Foundation, created by Pakistani activist Malala Yousfazai, and her support for worldwide need for education of girls and young women.

Similarly, Fey was recognized for her involvement with the organization, Reading is Fundamental. “We live in the richest country in the world, and still, “25 million children in the U.S. do not read with proficiency,” said Fey.

The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu was adapted from Atwood’s 1985 novel, which appropriately circulates around issues of gender inequality even over 30 years later. Atwood’s words rang clear even as attendees cleared out of the elegant space. “Right now it’s the best of times and the worst of times for women. Now is not the time to take anything for granted.”

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