Queen Latifah, others connect with personal stories at Variety event

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“I’m not afraid of none of y’all,” Queen Latifah declared from the stage at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel as she was feted as part of the fourth annual Variety’s Power of Women luncheon.

Like all of the speakers at the event, presented by Lifetime, Latifah emphasized the collective might that showbiz femmes wield in their professional and personal lives. And she, like others, urged the women in the aud to link arms to “support one another and lift one another up.”

Latifah was honored for her work with the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, founded more than 15 years ago in memory of her brother, who died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. The other 2012 honorees — thesps Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Felicity Huffman and Warner Bros.’ Sue Kroll — also spoke about their involvement with passion-project charitable orgs. Katherine Heigl was recognized with a separate kudo from the American Cancer Society for her work in raising awareness and funds for medical research.

Cancer charities are also the focus for Huffman, recognized for her work with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and its Stand Up 2 Cancer initiative. “Allowing me to be part of a solution gives me hope,” Huffman said, noting that her sister has faced breast cancer.

Biel spoke of being moved during her trips to Africa on behalf of Charity: Water, the non-profit org devoted to providing clean water in Third World countries. Presenter Jennifer Garner hailed Biel’s dedication by asking the crowd, “Anyone else who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for their organization, please raise your hand.”

Berry spoke of turning the devastation of being arrested for a hit-and-run accident 12 years ago into her commitment to the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence intervention program.

“I realized why (the arrest) happened to me,” Berry said. “It was God’s way of saying, ‘You are not doing enough.’?”

Ben Affleck intro’d Kroll, dubbing her “the Ethel to my Lucy,” and cited her work with Film Independent.

DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider also urged showbiz femmes to commit to their charitable passions in her opening remarks, referencing her experience working with City Year, an org that helps keep at-risk students in school. Snider noted that charitable activities are a good antidote to what she admitted was a “periodic tendency to self-absorption.”

Prior to Snider’s remarks, host Maria Menounos also gave a pitch for showbiz femmes to link arms and “strengthen our community.”

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