“Every Jewish boy I ever loved, and there was a lot of them, was in love with Natalie Portman,” said America Ferrera before introducing the fellow actress, who was one of 10 women being celebrated by Elle magazine at its annual Women in Hollywood event on Monday night inside the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills. “How was I supposed to compete with that?”
“…I’d say to myself, ‘She’s a child actor,’” she continued. “‘Her talent and intellect are bound to level out. She’ll burn out eventually. She’ll do something heinous and embarrassing, and then the rest of us will have a chance at finding a place in the hearts of America and Jewish boys everywhere.’”
The audience — which included Diane Lane, Catherine O’Hara, Joey King and Zoey Deutch — cheered, as Portman watched with a grin. The two met during the early days of the Time’s Up movement, Ferrera said.
“But Natalie refuses to go away,” she added. “It turns out that Natalie is in fact your dream best friend.…But my favorite thing about Natalie is she is always the craziest b—h in the room. Natalie is always ready to burn s–t down and to take names, and it’s quite terrifying. When it comes to calling out messed up systems that don’t work for women, Natalie takes no prisoners.”
“Thank you, America,” said Portman in a Dior gown when she accepted the award. “To quote one of my favorite movies, ‘America, f–k yeah,” she chanted, quoting Trey Parker’s 2004 satire “Team America: World Police.”
On a more serious note, she said, “The women who are in this room are probably the hardest-working, the least complaining, the best personalities you could find.…Meanwhile, how will we know if we’ve reached equality? Is it going to be when this room is a room of successful women, and it’s full of a–holes? Is it going to be when our next movie tanks, and we get a raise the next time? Is it going to be when we commit a series of crimes and get elected anyway?…The most powerful example we can set for the next generation would be for us to do that most human of things, make mistakes.…Go out post-mistake and succeed, wildly. So, f–k up and thrive sisters.”
It was a room full of Hollywood heavy-hitters that included honorees Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mindy Kaling, Zendaya, Melina Matsoukas and Lena Waithe. Each, along with Dolly Parton and Jodie Turner-Smith (who were MIA), posed for a cover of the magazine’s newest issue. It’s “a sisterhood that comes together to celebrate their victories, to speak about the roadblocks that they might have had, to speak about what’s happening in the industry,” shared editor in chief Nina Garcia. “They’re very candid conversations. They’re not all rosy.”
The dinner party, held in partnership with Ralph Lauren and Lexus, was hosted by producer, writer and actress Issa Rae. “I love this night, because it’s all about dope women and alcohol, which are my two favorite things,” joked the “Insecure” star.
Also on hand were presenters Reese Witherspoon (for Kaling), director Noah Baumbach (for Johansson) and Charlize Theron with Margot Robbie, who appeared together to present Kidman her honor. The three worked together on Jay Roach’s “Bombshell,” centered on the downfall of Fox News’ Roger Ailes.
Before the start of the event, Theron got candid sharing that she “just had three surgeries. I’m promoting two films, and my kids, they’re four and seven [years old], and they just got two puppies. My life is incredibly overwhelmed right now.”
Johansson spoke of growing up on welfare in a low-income housing development in New York City, while Zendaya nervously shared that it was an honor to be grouped with the rest of the women. “It’s crazy,” she said. “I’m 23! I’m still figuring it out.”
Next up was Paltrow, who proclaimed: “I really wish I had written a speech right now, because I’m drunk.” Turning to her onscreen son on “The Politician,” she asked 26-year-old Ben Platt: “Should I be offended that I’m your mother? Slightly? I’m probably older than Zendaya’s mother, too. I feel good about it.”