Variety’s fifth annual Power of Women New York luncheon brought together leading women in the entertainment industry to honor them for using their platform to promote worthy causes.
Honorees Tina Fey, Alicia Keys, Margaret Atwood, Emily Blunt, and Tarana Burke along with Padma Lakshmi and Viola Davis gave speeches about the importance of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, equal pay, and other issues facing women.
Comedian Samantha Bee opened the luncheon with, “As I look out at this room of hundreds of women, I can’t help but feel inspired and totally safe knowing that this is Mike Pence’s personal hell.” Bee later added, “If the pee tape drops while I’m standing up here talking, I need you to shout at me, and I will shut this s— down and we will throw it up right there on the big screen.”
Fey continued to make the crowd laugh when she accepted her honor. “My whole life is just ride-or-die bitches as far as the eye can see,” she said.
During her speech, Keys addressed the mistreatment of women in the music and television industry. She specifically called out Netflix’s “The Crown” for the pay disparity controversy involving Claire Foy and Matt Smith. “It’s about the queen,” Keys said. “So why is the prince getting more than the queen? So the queens are going to get their paper.”
Other impactful moments from the event came from speeches by Lakshmi, who shared her struggle with her endometriosis diagnosis and Davis, who described the “long road” rape survivors have to overcome. Author Atwood spoke about why Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is based off her 1985 novel, is still relevant today.
Burke, who founded Me Too, stressed the importance of the current women’s rights movements. “Let’s not squander this moment by allowing others to define it for us,” Burke said. “This is a survivor’s movement, a people’s movement.”