On Friday afternoon, Sarah Jessica Parker took the stage at Variety’s Power of Women event in New York and offered a quote from the late choreographer George Balanchine.
“God made men to sing the praises of women,” Parker recalled Balanchine saying. “They are not equal to men. They are better.”
The luncheon was the first New York outing for the Power of Women event, which was started in 2009 by publisher Michelle Sobrino-Stearns. The Los Angeles celebration continues to be held each fall.
Parker was recognized for her charitable work with the New York City Ballet, and she was honored alongside the other Power of Women recipients Susan Sarandon, Claire Danes, Iman, Idina Menzel and A&E Networks Chief Nancy Dubuc.
Sobrino-Sterns offered introductory remarks with editors in chiefs Claudia Eller and Cynthia Littleton. Fashion designer Zac Posen served as the emcee.
Danes was the first to take the stage to accept her award for working with Afghan Hands, which launched in 2009 by her makeup artist Matin Maulawizada.
“Matin is an extraordinary person,” Danes said. “He’s a brilliant makeup artist who happens to have a master’s degree in molecular biology from Berkeley.”
“He also understands,” Danes added, “how powerless women are in his homeland.”
A&E Networks Chief Nancy Dubuc spoke about her work with Team Rubicon and the Mission Continues, two organizations devoted to helping aid war veterans.
“The recognition should not be about me, but these men and women that support our country for many years,” Dubuc said. She called their stories “the fabric of who we are.”
“When you meet a veteran,” she said, “thank them for their service.”
Iman opened her speech with a playful aside–“old age is a bitch,” she said, before launching into a passionate talk about her former life as a refugee in Somalia. The supermodel and entrepreneur said she has spent the last three years working with the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, devoted to helping Somalians get medical help.
“Personally, in 1972, my family had to flee Somalia on foot,” she said. She then recited a refrain that she learned growing up–“If you cannot be a mountain, lean on one.”
Menzel opened her speech with laughs when she thanked her presenter Josh Groban. “He got my name right,” she said.
“I’m often asked what motivated me to create this camp for urban girls,” she said when describing her foundation A Broader Way. Menzel said her career, which included starring turns in “Wicked” on Broadway and Disney’s animated “Frozen,” was defined by “the opportunity to put the voice of a 42-year-old woman in a much younger girl in search of herself.”
She described the 10 days each year she spends as a camp counselor “swimming in my underwear, crying by their poetry.” She read a poem by one of the kids enrolled in her program, which included the line, “How far do I have to run to catch a dream?/To see all my beautiful thoughts come to life?”
Parker, who offered a supportive hoot when Menzel took the stage, spoke about how the New York City Ballet, which has staged 450 original works in 66 years, has become the largest dance organization in America.
“As you can imagine these singular achievements can be costly,” Parker said. “So it is my privilege to be helpful where and when I can to do what I can to contribute to the future of this glorious American institution.”
Susan Sarandon was honored for her involvement with Hope North, dedicated to providing shelter and schooling for children in Uganda. Founder Okello Sam, a Ugandan soldier-turned-artist, introduced the actress.
“These kids when they are at the school are so excited to be getting an education,” Sarandon said.
She asked everybody in the 400-person crowd to donate $1,500 annually to sponsor a child. “It’s just a cool thing to know you were able to reach and open your world to other people,” Sarandon said, before adding: “I know some of you could fund the whole school. I won’t be greedy.”