Despite being surrounded by L’Oréal Paris’ influential Women of Worth contenders at the ninth annual gala on Tuesday night at The Pierre hotel, Rupert Friend, who arrived hand in hand with fiancé and L’Oréal ambassador Aimee Mullins, was fangirled by attendees.
Friend posed for photos happily, but he put forth his utmost charm making the night about the women being honored and supporting Mullins by holding her clutch and scarf.
“It’s a lovely black women’s purse, and I understand for WWD this is of interest,” kidded Friend, who noted that he just came back from South Africa filming season four of “Homeland,” but kept mum on the details.
But the evening was chiefly about the 10 women being honored for their extraordinary accomplishments.
“Every year we are deeply humbled and moved by each of the honoree’s remarkable stories and this year was no exception,” said Karen T. Fondu, president of L’Oréal Paris, who added 2014 has been most successful for nominations in Women of Worth history, which was fueled by its first-ever Twitter forum. “United in their passion for making a difference, selfless dedication to their causes and unwavering perseverance, the 2014 honorees are all making positive changes in their communities and truly exemplify everything our Women of Worth program represents.”
The 10 winners each received $10,000 for their respective charities. They included Corinne Cannon, founder of D.C. Diaper Bank, which provides free diapers to families in need; Stephanie Decker, founder of The Stephanie Decker Foundation, which gives back to children with prosthetics; Shaaron Funderburk, founder of Off the Streets Program, an organization for overcoming addiction to create a transitional home for women in need; Mary K. Hoodhood, founder of Kids’ Food Basket, which provides take home meals to hungry kids; Deborah Snyder, founder of Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, which provides homes to homeless veterans; Phyllis Sudman, founder of Simon’s Fund, which raises awareness for sudden childhood cardiac arrest; Brittany Wenger, founder of Cloud4cancer, which revolutionizes breast cancer detection with cloud technology; Audra DiPadova Wilford, founder of Maxlove Project, an organization to help kids facing life-threatening illnesses with support and nutrition; Jenny Williamson, founder of Courage Worldwide, which saves and heals girl victims of human trafficking, and Rachel R. Jackson-Bramwell, founder of Project Compassion, NFP, which aims to empower disadvantaged women and girls.
At the end of the evening, Sudman, whose son, Simon, passed away in his sleep at 13 weeks old from sudden cardiac arrest, was named the 2014 Women of Worth national nominee, which provided an additional $25,000 for her cause. Simon’s Fund has provided free heart screenings to over 10,000 students in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee.
“All of us have experienced something in our life that was unfair, and we all decided to do something about it,” said Sudman. “Because of this [award] more kid’s hearts will be checked and more kid’s lives will be saved.”
Among the evening’s presenters were L’Oréal celebrity spokeswomen Mullins, Diane Keaton, Andie MacDowell, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria and Julianne Moore.
“People who are being honored tonight are so extraordinary and out of the realm of my life, but it brings me to a connection with people who sacrifice all kinds of things to help other people,” said Keaton. “Audra Dipadova Wilford’s son was diagnosed with cancer at age four. She raised $90,000 [for her organization]. I’m affiliated with the Los Angeles Conservancy and we have a very hard time raising money, but if you can raise that kind of money you really are a trailblazer.”
Before the show, a few of the presenters chatted with WWD about upcoming projects.
Moore, who recently starred in the latest “Hunger Games” film, spoke about what her kids think of her fame. “This is what they’ve grown up with, so they are used to it,” she said, clad in a black Alexander McQueen gown. “[But, being part of “Mockingjay”] they do think that’s cool. Take or leave the Oscars, but “Mockingjay” was a big deal. Meeting Jennifer Lawrence was a very big deal for my daughter.”
Despite only wanting to talk about the women being honored, Lively ignored two questions from the press and spoke about her Web site, Preserve, and how she wants to have something she can control outside of Hollywood. “It’s a terrible idea to have two professions,” said Lively, who was glowing and slightly sweating due to her pregnancy. “For me, my mom was someone who juggled everything. She raised five kids and she was superwoman. It was important for me to have [Preserve] because that’s what I feel like I do best.”