It was clear there was nothing but good feelings between the two, however, even as Anderson tried to cap off her speech by saying to the audience, “I’m not a woman, but I understand your pain.” Ross clapped back with, “We are not in pain,” a response that received cheers and loud applause as the cast left the stage.
The awards presentation by Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, was preceded by the senior class sendoff, a ceremony presented by January Jones highlighting the achievements of girls completing their time as Step Up mentees as they prepare to leave for college. After Dungey’s speech, a highlight reel of “Black-ish” showing some of the show’s best moments played as the audience laughed.
Ross thanked Dungey for being a talented network head, and spoke some affirming words to the girls whom the event was also celebrating. “Often on television, it’s an unconscious thing that we don’t notice, but in life we know that our worth is not defined in relationship to something else,” she said. “We are valuable and powerful and entertaining because we are.”
Step Up is a non-profit organization geared towards creating professional networks among women and leveraging those networks to provide mentorship — including confidence building, college preparation, and career readiness — to girls across the country.
The event was interspersed with video messages from some of those girls explaining the relevancy of Step Up’s work, and the fundraising portion of the event raised $425,000 to help continue it — over $85,000 of which was raised in 10 minutes.