By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – A Hollywood event purported to be dedicated to empowering women in industry and around the world focused more on how their rights are being jeopardized at home and abroad.
Restrictive abortion laws in the United States and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan took center stage Thursday at the Variety Power of Women event, which honored actress Rita Moreno, singers Katy Perry and Lorde, poet / activist Amanda Gorman and Channing Dungey, president of Warner Bros. Television group.
The event celebrates the philanthropic efforts of those in the entertainment industry, with causes ranging from providing healthcare to the uninsured to raising awareness of underserved communities through the arts.
Angelina Jolie opened up about all the girls in the world who feel like underdogs by introducing Gorman, 23, who stole the show during President Biden’s inauguration with a powerful recitation of his poem, “The Hill We Climb” . (Gorman plans to run for president herself in 2036, the first year she will be eligible.)
“How many Amandas live in Afghanistan, hiding their newspapers, waiting to see if they will be allowed to go to school?” Jolie asked. “As if anyone has the right to decide what a woman can or cannot do with her mind and body.”
Jolie continued, “There is nothing more beautiful, more difficult and perhaps unsettling than the free spirit of a woman who thinks.”
Gorman then delivered such a powerful poem that the speaker who followed her – director Ava DuVernay – joked, “Thanks to the person who decided that I would go after Amanda. The Lord has mercy. “
Moreno, almost 90, who became the first Latina to win an Oscar, said women have been deprived of power for far too long.
“We live in a time that requires us to be vigilant,” she said. “As women, there are many issues that require our attention in these terribly dark days, when our leaders politicize the wearing of masks and polarize our citizens on vaccines, when in the minds of many climate change is a matter of science. -fiction and that health care is still not codified as a basic human right in this divine America.
Actress Alyssa Milano has said that “it is the most dangerous time of my life to be an American woman”.
“Texas has enacted worse laws than we could have imagined. Other states are following suit, ”she said. “The Supreme Court seems happy to let all of this happen. And both parties in the Senate are failing us on this issue. “
Milano then introduced a surprise guest: Paxton Smith, the Texas high school major who suppressed a speech approved by his school administrators and launched an abortion rights appeal for him.
Smith used his moment in front of Hollywood’s elite to urge them to act.
“There is no more time to wait and see what will happen next because the very thing that we are afraid of is happening right now,” she said. “Every citizen of Texas who has the capacity to procreate to carry out a pregnancy has been deprived of a fundamental freedom, the fundamental human right to decide what we do with our lives. “
Texas law already faces legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed by the Biden administration.
“Royals” singer Lorde used her speech to question her own power. The singer drew some criticism after recording five songs from her latest album, “Solar Power”, in the indigenous New Zealand language te reo Māori.
The songs, she said, sparked a heated discussion.
“Is this famous rich white woman auspicious or symbolic?” Does she defend or co-opt for her own social gain? ” she said. “I welcome this speech. A power like mine must be questioned. Over the past few years, we have all seen that no power system is too big to fail, no leader too established to uproot.
One night when she and other powerful Hollywood women were being honored, Lorde said she was thinking “of women whose birthplace, skin color or socioeconomic status would always make them less likely to be. hands over a megaphone “.
Katy Perry avoided politics during her speech and made it a more personal night for herself, her fiance Orlando Bloom and their daughter Daisy, who just turned 1.
“Orlando, a man who is a friend and ally of women around the world, thank you for handling the madness of my life with such loving grace,” she said. “And to my Daisy, a powerful future woman, I promise to do my best to be an example, to never put limits on your dreams, to lead with love without ever being afraid and to always be your beacon in all darkness. . “
She then asked Bloom to loosen her corset so that she could sing a song called “What Makes a Woman”. As he struggled to undo the back of her puffy lavender dress, she advised him, “Pull it all down, I’ve got a belt here.”
It wasn’t the only light moment in a night filled with heavy speeches.
Evening host, comedian and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ actress Chelsea Peretti said she was thrilled to be returning to society amid the coronavirus pandemic, especially “to do something really cool like coming into direct contact with Angelina Jolie “.
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