It was definitely a ladies’ night at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday evening as the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation honored female thesps, producers and correspondents at the 39th annual Gracie Awards gala.
Over 30 awards were presented at the event, celebrating programming for, by and about women.
Host Aisha Tyler kicked things off by offering the analogy that, “The Gracies are like ‘Girls,’ but without all the self-involvement and awkward sex.”
Tyler kept the laughs coming as she shared her response to people who ask her what it’s like to be a powerful woman.
“I do not get up in the morning thinking I’m a strong woman,” Tyler said. “I get up in the morning thinking, ‘Man, I have to pee’ and then I think, ‘How am I going to execute my goals today?’”
Bellamy Young accepted the Gracie for her show “Scandal” and read a few words from series creator Shonda Rhimes, who was unable to attend.
“Shonda says to tell you she hates the word nice,” Young said. “The women of ‘Scandal’ don’t do nice. They don’t do nice, pliable, ladylike things. They save the world. They run the White House. They hold power drills. They handle. They fix. They take control. They get the job done while the damsel in distress, played so beautifully by Tony Goldwyn, waits to be rescued. They fail as often as they succeed, but they are powerful.”
“Caring is Sexy” honoree Angie Harmon was recognized for her charitable work off-camera and shared her award with three of the orgs she has worked with over the years – the Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Children’s Institute and UNICEF.
“I just sort of bask in their greatness and I am just a vessel that they can use that hopefully their messages can pass through,” said the “Rizzoli and Isles” actress.
“I’ve been very lucky in my career, so I just thought that’s what you do when you’ve been blessed with the life that I’ve been given. You give back,” Harmon added. “If there’s anything that tugs at your heartstrings, please take action.”
Wanda Sykes also took the stage to receive the Gracie for her comedy special “Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious” and joked that though she is now a two-time Gracie winner, she hasn’t fared so well at other awards ceremonies.
“You have much better taste than the Emmys,” Sykes said, before adding, “I just want to know – do I get to keep this or does Oprah snatch this out of my hand as soon as I walk out the door?”
Sykes’ Gracie was safe as Winfrey was not in attendance, but the mogul’s OWN network was also a winner, taking home awards for “Oprah’s Lifeclass” and Iyanla Vanzant’s “Fix My Life.”
“Parenthood” actor Sam Jaeger was also on hand to present the Gracie for supporting role in a drama to his TV wife Erika Christensen.
Earlier in the evening, Grammy winner Deniece Williams got the crowd on its feet with a performance of “Let’s Hear it for the Boy.”
After informing attendees that each of the centerpieces were actually chocolate Gracies (and taking a bite of hers onstage), Tyler closed out the night with a quote from Sarah Silverman.
“Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up,” she said. “Not because they can’t, but because it never occurred to them that they couldn’t.”
The gala will be followed up by a luncheon ceremony in Gotham on June 11.
A complete list of winners can be found here.
(Pictured: “Scandal” star Bellamy Young at the Gracie Awards)