×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Viola Davis, Reese Witherspoon Get Personal at Variety’s Power of Women

Variety’s annual Power of Women luncheon, which this year took place Friday at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, continued its tradition of focusing on organizations that have personal significance to honorees.

“We’re celebrating their life’s work of philanthropy and charity. It’s the work that I like to say really matters,” said Eva Longoria, a 2011 Power of Women honoree who also represented partner Lifetime. The channel recently renewed “Devious Maids,” a series she exec produces.

“How to Get Away with Murder” star Viola Davis shared her emotional journey from growing up in abject poverty and how she is using that experience to educate the public about hungry children in the U.S. through the Hunger Is initiative, while “Wild” star Reese Witherspoon spoke of how her daughter, Ava, informed her about Malala Yousafzai and that promoted her work with the Malala Fund., “American Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez talked about why she started the Lopez Family Foundation to provide access to healthcare for women and children without the resources she enjoys.

“Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also filled with abject poverty; I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn’t know where their next meal was coming from,” said Davis, adding that she “sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame” and speaking out now allows her to use her celebrity to put a face to the problem.

Fellow honorees included “The Newsroom” actress Jane Fonda and Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley, who were representing Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential and Vital Voices, respectively. Both said they felt it was their duty to promote philanthropic causes.

“I grew up in believing that service is the rent you pay for living life,” said Fonda, who referenced her father, Henry Fonda’s politically and socially conscious movies like “The Grapes of Wrath” and who also said that she prefers the word “activism” to “charity” because “activism creates trampolines; trampolines allow people to vault over walls that deprivation creates.”

Langley, who was introduced by California Attorney General Kamala Harris with the reminder that “she is committed to increasing opportunities for women both in front of and behind the camera,” spoke of her two sons and how she can inspire them and other young people to make a difference.

“I want them to grow up in a world where female empowerment and female rights are a birthright,” she said. “It’s not something that’s fought for, it’s not something that is asked for politely. It’s something that women around the world are born with.”

The ceremony also honored Maria Menounos, whom luxury shoe line Palter DeLiso co-founder Lauren Bruksch honored with the Palter DeLiso Charitable Sole award for her work in developing countries with the Kibera School for Girls, and Jessica Matthews, a tech entrepreneur who founded Uncharted Play and created the revolutionary sOccket energy source, whom Bryce Dallas Howard honored with the Moroccanoil Inspired to Action Award.

“Women are not the world’s problem; we are the solution,” Menounos said.

More Scene

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content