Zoe Saldana and Variety's Claudia Eller
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Variety‘s editor-in-chief of film Claudia Eller was honored by the girls and women mentorship program Step Up at the Beverly Hilton Friday. She was presented the Inspiration Award by Stacey Snider, the co-chairman and CEO of DreamWorks. “Guardians of the Galaxy” star Zoe Saldana was also honored with the same award, which was presented to her by the film’s director James Gunn.

Eller, in her acceptance speech, thanked her partner Amy and her two daughters as well as her parents, but shifted the focus to the organization, in particular the girls who work through the Step Up program to graduate high school and attend college. (For three straight years, 100 percent of the girls in the Step Up programs graduated high school and went on to college.) Similarly, Saldana tracked the story of her childhood, emphasizing that it “takes a village” to raise children, much less successful young women. She cited herself and her two sisters as living examples. “I never want to run out of people to thank,” she said.

“Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen presented the Step Up graduating senior award to Tamia Walker, who will attend California State University, Chico, this fall. KPMG was also feted as the corporate honoree.

Step Up works in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago in underprivileged areas to mentor and support young women to fulfill their potential, providing experiences such as field trips and internships. This year marked their 11th Annual Inspiration Awards, which were sponsored by Halston Heritage, Dogeared, U.S. Bank and Luna. At the event they raised over $70,000 for the next class of Step Up young women.

 

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