Variety’s Power of Women event on Friday honored an influential bunch of women: Salma Hayek, Anna Kendrick, Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey, YouTube chief executive officer Susan Wojcicki, actress and martial artist Rebecca Welsh — and 20th Century Fox ceo Jim Gianopulos.
Each of the women was singled out for her charitable work, while Gianopulos was given the inaugural EmPOWerment Award for supporting an industry-leading number females in his company. The luncheon, emceed by Tracee Ellis Ross, also brought out a constellation of presenters to share anecdotes about their friends: Jada Pinkett Smith for Hayek; Lisa Kudrow for Kendrick; Ryan Murphy for Paltrow; Ava DuVernay for Winfrey; Reese Witherspoon for Gianopulos.
“When I was doing my show in Chicago, and I’d come crawling home each night, I always wondered what those Ladies Who Lunch did, and I guess this is what it’s like, huh?” Winfrey said.
The afternoon highlighted organizations like Gucci’s Chime for Change, The Trevor Project, Room to Read and L.A. Kitchen, that address advocacy, LGBT rights, literacy and hunger. Hayek noted, “It’s an exciting time for women to take responsibility to redefine who we really are, what are our real conflicts today. We’re not women who want to see a movie about a prince who’s going to come rescue us. Romantic comedies don’t work because we’ve changed but nobody has taken the time to change with us in the industry.” Witherspoon, who started her own production company to do just that, thanked Gianopulos for making her female-centric films “Gone Girl” and “Wild.”
Paltrow asserted, “There no longer seems to be the fear of retribution or coming off in a way that makes us unsavory or un-hirable. We are encouraging each other to change business models, to try new ventures. While the culture continues to try to keep us in a frenzy of petty competition and smallness, we are banding together to support each other.”
Others who came out in support were Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jaime King. As she closed the event, Winfrey told the audience, “The only thing that’s different about being famous is that more people know who you are. But we can each make a difference.”