Oprah Tearfully Empowers Women to Help Others at Variety’s Power of Women

Oprah Winfrey, who was selected this year as a Variety Power of Women honoree along with Salma Hayek PinaultAnna Kendrick, Gwyneth Paltrow and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, brought down the house at the Power of Women luncheon, presented by Lifetime, held Friday at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills.

Variety’s biannual event, held both in Los Angeles and New York each year, honors women in the entertainment industry who use their public platform to raise awareness and work toward charitable causes.

Recognized for her incredible work with the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, Winfrey was the only one to receive a standing ovation at the event. However, in true Oprah fashion, the media mogul, who was introduced by director Ava DuVernay, put the attention on the other women in the room.

“I have always known this about celebrity,” Winfrey said, giving a nod to the public figures in the room. “The real power is understanding that what Salma has done, what Susan has done, what Gwyneth has done, what Rebecca has done, what Jim has done, is you, too, can do [it] because true philanthropy comes from living from the heart of yourself and giving what you have been given.”

Winfrey urged the room to make a difference themselves, continuing, “What we’ve done, you can do. The real empowerment comes when each person leaves this room and makes a decision.”

Becoming weepy while speaking of “her daughters” from her girls’ school in Africa (one of whom was in the audience), she recalled something significant that Maya Angelou once told her: Your legacy is seen in those whose lives you’ve touched. “It’s a beautiful thing to receive an award and to be on the cover of Variety,” Winfrey said. “But the true reward comes from the lives you have been able to touch and you know that you have impacted.”

Hayek Pinault, who was honored at the luncheon for her work with the Chime for Change charity, touched on similar subjects when delivering her remarks. “What gives me a hope is that in a world that is becoming apart, women are coming together,” she said, garnering a huge round of applause from the awe-inspired crowd.

Introduced by Jada Pinkett-Smith, who called Hayek Pinault “the ultimate ride-or-die chick of Hollywood,” the Mexican-American multi-hyphenate spoke of coming to the States as a young actress.

“I thought I was going to be working right away, but I was really worried about the other girls… And I was so wrong,” she recalled of the catty stereotype of competitive women in the biz. “For my very long career in the United States, I have to say, when I am about to die, I will remember with a smile on my face and in my heart, the amazing sisters, the extraordinary friends that I’ve made in this industry. I don’t know if maybe this is the industry that has the best women in the world — maybe because we’ve been so suppressed, we have kind of a bonding.”

Gallery: Variety’s Power of Women Presented by Lifetime

Hayek Pinault added that she feels “very confident” that she is part of the generation of change, noting that women in Hollywood no longer just want to be considered for romantic comedies with the fantasy of finding the perfect Prince Charming. “We changed, but no one took the time to change with us in the industry,” she said.

As the packed room dined on a three-course meal and celebratory champagne, Lisa Kudrow took the stage to present the next award to Kendrick, with whom she worked on the Duplass brothers’ upcoming film “Table 19.” Kudrow added, “There are no half measures for Anna.”

The “Pitch Perfect” star was recognized for her work with the Trevor Project, providing crisis intervention and suicide services to LGBTQ teens.

“If you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ve probably seen there’s this sexual revolution happening,” Kendrick said. “And it’s beautiful and it’s fun and it’s exciting, and it gives me hope that this generation is onto something.”

The youngest honoree, Kendrick walked the event’s red carpet with the Trevor Project’s founder, and raved that she was taken by surprise to be named one of the five Power of Women honorees, noting that she can’t believe her face is on Variety‘s special covers for the event. “Fun fact,” she said, sharing a story that raised laughter from the crowd. “The day of my cover shoot, I had jury duty and missed my shoot…I feel like if I had any real power, I could have gotten out of it. I feel like Oprah could have probably gotten out of it.”

Before Oprah took the stage, Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon presented the EmPOWerment Award to the only male honoree, 20th Century Fox chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos, for whom Witherspoon produced “Gone Girl” and “Wild.”

“We’re not going to talk about you when you leave and tell you that you can’t be the love interest opposite George Clooney — but you can be the mother,” Witherspoon sassily quipped as she introduced Gianopulos, referring to the topic of ageism and male domination in Hollywood.

Gianopulos, however, took center stage to relay the exact opposite message.

“I hope that someday, the concept of honoring men for empowering women will be obsolete and seem ridiculous. I hope that someday I tell my grandchildren that I received this award and they’ll laugh at me,” he announced, adding that women “don’t need empowerment, they empower me.” The movie studio exec thanked the women he works with and spoke on behalf of the biz, saying, “The talent exists… It’s our job to hire them.” He continued, “Change is happening. It’s happening in the hearts and minds of the industry and there’s a growing recognition that the status quo is simply unacceptable.”

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Moroccanoil ambassador for the beauty company’s Inspired By Women campaign, presented the Moroccanoil Inspiration to Action award to Rebecca Welsh of the HALO Foundation, who works with orphans and at-risk children.

Other sponsors for the daytime event included Frederique Constant; Audi; Unite4Good; Saint Vintage, whose founder, two-time cancer survivor, Paige Jansen-Nichols, spoke about finding a cure at the luncheon; plus charity partner Entertainment Industry Foundation, which matches the Variety Foundation’s donations to the honorees’ charities.

Amid the emotional speeches, Lifetime’s head of programming Liz Gateley showed a video of Lifetime’s Broad Focus initiative, which champions female content creators in the industry. Eva Longoria and Queen Latifah are among the many women working with the cable network, which Gateley announced has always welcomed women to be in positions of power.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki was honored for her work with the educational charity Room to Read. “My mom was the first one in her family who was able to go to college. It changed her life, it changed her trajectory, it changed my life and it changed my sister’s life as well,” Wojcicki shared, explaining her commitment to spreading education.

Introduced by YouTube sensation Bethany Mota — who spoke to Variety on the carpet about overcoming cyber-bullying — Wojcicki was proud to be the first female tech exec recognized at the bi-annual ceremony. “As the first woman coming from Silicon Valley for this award, it’s a little intimidating, but it’s wonderful to be here and I really hope it’s an opportunity for these two parts of California to work together more in the future,” she said.

Mega-producer Ryan Murphy took the podium to welcome Gwyneth Paltrow, who he revealed is his child’s godmother.

“As a younger gay, I was also obsessed with the legend of Gwyneth,” he said, referring to her red carpet glamour in the ’90s and many Vogue covers. “But having known her now for 10 years, the thing that resonates with me the most is that none of these things are preoccupied with image or success when it comes to this lady.”

Paltrow, who spoke of her charitable work with L.A. Kitchen, spoke of the times Murphy mentioned, recalling when she was urged not to use SAT words during interviews because career-driven and intelligent women were seen as “ambitious” — and that was a bad thing. Giving kudos to powerful women who have recently shared their experiences of being women in Hollywood such as Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Patricia Arquette and Ashley Judd, who bravely revealed her own sexual abuse by a studio mogul, Paltrow said, “Today, the power of women rings a bit differently and you can feel the shift.”

“I believe that we are on the verge of creating a new archetype,” Paltrow said, adding that it is now possible to be a woman who is “ambitious, while being a woman who is nurturing, maternal, sexual and for other women.”

The audience applauded as Paltrow spoke of supporting other women. And she made sure to give a nod to the pioneering woman who was the talk of the event: Oprah — or as Paltrow said it best, “The original trailblazer, the mother of us all.”

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  1. Leonie says:

    Learn how this dual-actions fat burner can help you double and triple your weight reduction!

  2. Marc says:

    This hands down takes the prize for the most hate-filled comments section ever! Sounds like the time is right to launch the Misogyny Channel.

  3. Sally says:

    Encountered her once on a sound stage. She entered with all of her body guards surrounding her due to the fact that she was wearing a lot of very, very expensive jewelry. Although I was not within the group meeting with her, I heard “her people” say that you must call her Ms. Winfrey, you cannot get to close, speak only when spoken to and to keep eye contact at a minimum to non-existent. Empowering women? My patootie.

  4. Wayne says:

    More feminist new age ptopaganda crap . how about be mothers women your kids are acting crazy. Trust in JESUS not these fake women

  5. Sob-Sista Ooophie & Johnny Boehner should hit-the-road with their cryin’ carney act and stand up on the stage, sobbing on-cue over every ‘lil thing that upsets ’em . . . reality is such a drag.

    Both a couple of phonies who’ve mastered the smoke ‘n mirrors of their stagecraft.

    Cry me a river . . .anyone got a Kleenex?!

  6. William James says:

    Laura Bush, an educator, tried to say the same thing fifteen years ago but she was beat down by all the feminists.

  7. aquila says:

    oprah needs to have more celebrity families on her show x

  8. herdofpugs says:

    These gals are going to need a chiropractor after all this mutual back patting.
    They can’t even see how ridiculous they look through the frayed edges of the real world.

  9. Jan says:

    These same women also endorse Planned Parenthood which has eradicated 54+ Million unborn babies. Seems hypocritical.

  10. B Da Truth says:

    Oprah represents for bored White woman the safe Black friend they have who won’t steal their jewelry so they can tell themselves they have a Black friend and therefore they’re really not racist. As to Oprah she has nothing to offer but her endless accusations of racism or the sexist glass ceiling as she sits on her Billion dollar fortune, why doesn’t she just go away?

  11. It ‘s the Boys in our society that are in need of help especially black boys. Who is helping them? All this attention on women is misplaced….they do well for heaven’s sake. The year os the women is bogus as the attention should be on the boys who are not graduating from high school, have few if any role models n the 1 person female of the household family. Get real !!!!

  12. Kaptain Kanada says:

    A hysteria convention by, of, and for the most indulged, privileged and indulged women in the history of the world… And Oprah has made a killing from manipulating all those spoilt, emotional, brain dead, irrational prima donnas.
    It’s simultaneously pathetic and disgusting.

  13. STEVE B says:


  14. Vicky says:

    Gwyneth using SAT words? Slinging hash at a soup kitchen? Really now, we all need to Eschew Obfuscation.

  15. founders1791 says:

    The entire lot of them are suffering a cognitive disconnect from reality to believe they actually care one bit about “all” women – their entire scht!ck centers around – only liberal women who think & act like them

    Where are “the other half” of women like Sarah Palin in this “Power of (Liberal) Women” propaganda?

    • Kaptain Kanada says:

      Well said; Oprah is the greatest fraud, con artist and charlatan since P.T. Barnum and she proves his maxim that, “Nobody ever went broke by under-estimating the intelligence of the American people.”

  16. Paul D. says:

    Oh… another wonderful load of steaming turd from Hollywood and the gals…

  17. Jennevieve Bucolic says:

    Ugh. Just another opportunity for more Hollywood types to pat each other on the back and tell each other how wonderful they are for doing basically nothing… symbolic nonsense. What a syrupy story. Excuse me while I vomit.

  18. Lin says:


    You know what I’d like, Oprah? I’d like the $300.00 or so dollars a month back that your buddy Obama is forcing me to pay for health insurance that I don’t need and didn’t ask for. Ya’ know . . . . the money that I WOULD HAVE used to actually enhance my savings, save for retirement, increase my financial stability, buy a better house, enter the MIDDLE CLASS, etc. . . . . Your efforts at “helping” people like me are placing me in a far WORSE financial position and INCREASING the chances that I will have to rely on the government at some point in the future . . . Happy now? Feel “good” about yourself for being so very generous?

  19. Morphy Smith says:

    the Big O is just another cheap liberal billionaire who wants others to do their bidding.

  20. Minnie Hallman says:

    This award is as useless and undeserved/unearned as obama’s and al gore’s nobel peace prizes.

  21. Bold says:

    Seriously. This woman weeps at an event to empower women? She has created a network that has done so much damage to women by setting the bar for personal behavior at an all time low. She demeans women and “empowers” them to act like spoiled, trashy sluts. Of course she doesn’t want them to have a dream of Prince Charming–she has no concept of real men who can be strong, brave, virtuous, and leaders which is exactly what men should be.

  22. So the woman who popularized obama ver.1 is now back to empowering women. You sold the women of USA a bill of goods Oopah.

  23. “At the core of Liberalism is the spoiled child – miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.” – P.J. O’Rourke…Women got empowered, we got Obama.

  24. Tex Taylor says:

    What a pretentious bunch of fools. You want me to believe you’re empowering women? Pick up a sword and face off with ISIS.

  25. Shlomo Shunn says:

    What bloviating bimbo! They argle-bargle about “empowering women.” Meaning what?

    What women do the dirty, dangerous jobs that keep countries going? When will Oprah’s followers become half of all those installing plumbing, stringing high tension wires, flying jets, driving trucks, digging tunnels, drilling oil, fishing, washing high-rise windows, driving trains, mining coal, working in sewers, fighting in front-line combat units, constructing bridges, managing waterworks, building cell towers, etc.?

    All we see are a bunch of whiny shopaholics worried about how they look and what they wear.

    Western women are the most pampered being in history, living longer and better than kings historically. Yet they’re never happy. The endlessly complain without contributing…wanting rights, not responsibilities.

    • William James says:

      Right on brother. Those have been my thoughts exactly for years. American men are getting really tired of the American women. If the American women think they have it so bad let them try to be as woman in Central America, China, Russia or South America and see how they are treated. Foreign women love American men…why, no it’s not just because they think we have money it’s because we treat women better then any other males in the world. If anything, we have created a monster by enabling American women by doing too much for them.

  26. Fed Up says:

    Oprah is not a nice person she is a person who needs to be worshiped, she is a racist to the highest order, she is deceitful, she is everything women should NOT want to emulate.

  27. panama4u says:

    Sadly, these women will NOT stand up for women who are surrounded by amniotic fluid.

  28. Chadwick says:

    What kind of brain dead idiotic fools actually think most people fall for this crap? What a group of unattractive ridiculous over-promoted women.

  29. ed says:

    Opie is probably the biggest fake in the world! She is a loon tune in every way possible! She kicked out her stepmother out of a house that she had bought for her and opies dad..well when dad got tired of his wife she just kicked her out and gave her one day to move…yea opies a great woman…yea right!

  30. Oprah in tears when “fill-in-the-blank”.

  31. Midia says:

    Women are empowered to make choices like no sex before marriage, no multiple sexual partners, and choosing life over killing an unborn human.
    But women end up making poor, demeaning choices.
    They aren’t the victims like the media choose to make them out to be. Women are (generally) the perpetrators. Porn, unwed motherhood, killing fetuses, multiple sexual partners; generally speaking, all choices made by empowered women.
    There are better, God-based choices that don’t demean females, that show females can be strong, pure, honest and experience true freedom in body, mind, and spirit. And Oprah and company has little to do with it.

    • Fed Up says:

      Oh you are soooooooo correct in your statement. I am sick to death hearing its a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion. She does have a right to choose-we know sex causes babies so she can choose to not sleep around with men with out being married, they do not have the right to choose to KILL, MURDERED the unborn child that they created when they committed adultery(which you commit when ever you sllep with someone you are not married to) and need to save face.

    • Zoney says:

      Come right out and say it — Oprah and her ilk are part of the depravity and degradation. “Empowered” my right rear tire.

  32. Zoney says:

    Oprah, Gwyneth Paltrow, tears, “empowerment of women”?

    Sounds about as productive as tits on a bull.

    About as superfluous as a third tit on a bull.

    Seriously, talk about your vapid, vaccuous, elitist stupid-b1+ch circle-jerk.

  33. El Chubbo says:

    Oprah, thank you for all of your work in bringing the Olympics to Chicago! You can really get it done!!!

  34. B Da Truth says:

    I’m sorry women are great and already empowered, and The Oprah has worn out her welcome she has for years been accusing people of racist treatment for free publicity, she’s become one of those people who can’t let Black victim-hood go, because she makes her money off it. Time to stop picking at the scab of racism lady, take your millions and go.

  35. Pouncekitty says:

    Woman are already empowered. They just don’t accept the responsibility of leadership and ownership. They still want to whine, complain, blame men for all their own failures. YOU GOT THE POWER, GIRLS! When you gonna stop complaining and accept responsibility? Sick and tired of all these whiney “celebrities” making noise. Just get out there and DO SOMETHING ON YOUR OWN! Don’t be another Hillary!

  36. Rick4982 says:

    The only one that deserves recognition was Hayek. She used to be hot!

  37. fsdjfjdsf@dfsdf.net says:

    Someone please help Oprah stay away from the refrigerator.

  38. cloey says:

    Rich women wailing about each other is absolutely disgusting. Make it stop. More women than men now receive college degrees. Men are suffering far more from lack of fathers, jobs, etc. Repulsive.

  39. Dennis says:

    Oprah is a racist and she made almost all of her money by race baiting and race mongering.

    Go ask the Swiss Shop girl she tried to ruin so she could drum up attention for another of her racial movies.

  40. Franny says:

    Just wondering which loser these women are going to promote while each of them gets richer while further ruining the country!!

  41. Bill McKirk says:

    Oprah: Phony.

  42. suds Shynn says:

    Throw up Oprah makes her money on “”emotions””. She is always in tears. Supported current person in WH. Not that many folks pay attention to her anymore….

  43. Dan says:

    These ‘people’ are noting more than sanctimonious assess and this from a father of two strong, young women!!

    • Franny says:

      She destroyed her brand by pedaling tears and sticking us with vile haters!!

      • S. Chase says:

        I will never watch ANYTHING that invoves Oprah. She is a billionaire racist..made her money from all the dumbass white women who liked her out of white lib guilt. So she had a girl present from her African school where the headmistress beat and abused the poor black students and Oprah didn’t have a clue or care once she got her photo-op and left. Gee, what a phony. Also does anyone remember her rant on a interview when she said old white people should just die..since they were raised and just seethed in racism and nothing would change until they died. Nice thanks for your stupid audience. You didn’t make that money off any black viewers..not enough of them to begin with. I think O needs to go away. I just can’t take anymore hollywood b.s..

  44. mariee says:

    Whenever I come to Oprah’s Channel on cable, I quickly go past it. I refuse to watch her network because my family has suffered under Obama! She pushed him out there, stood behind him…my family lost health insurance, income, our home, a job. It’s been nothing but hell since 2009! Oprah played her part in my families pain, I will never forgive her period!!!

  45. BrocinChina says:

    Languishing in their own populist Americana appeal. What about the “other” 95%?!?

  46. dgfs says:

    “something unusual” you idiot

  47. Thomas G. says:

    I think we can at least all agree on one thing – that no matter what is transpiring in the world today, from corruption in government to the horrific actions of murdering criminals – we need to know what Oprah Winfrey, Salma Hayek Pinault, Anna Kendrick, Gwyneth Paltrow and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki think about it and what they would do. Perhaps a group Nobel Peace Prize is in order for them as well for the works they might do in the future, just like their hero received for the same reason, even though that didn’t quite pan out so much.

  48. Steve says:

    We (sniff) are so strong (sniff) as women (sniff, curtew)……..I’m (sniff , snuffle) so proud to be a woman (sniff) today…..I am (sniff, garble) woman here me cry……..Sniff

  49. Andylit says:

    Oprah may be the dumbest woman on the planet.

    She controlled a media empire created through her network television show. Millions of regular viewers. She got the great idea (not) to create her own network and take it to cable.
    Everything was on track. Except for one tiny little problem.
    The vast majority of her viewers can’t afford basic cable.

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