The annual Gracie Awards celebrated its 40th year at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday night. The Alliance for Women in Media event feted women from all facets of media, including news, television, radio, film and sports, and all ages from Disney Channel’s G. Hannelius, named social media ambassador for the event, to 90-year-old lifetime achievement award recipient Cicely Tyson.
“I’m really excited to be able to engage my fans… make them aware of this amazing cause and organization and fun event so that they can continue to support it in the years to come,” said Hannelius.
Earning a standing ovation, Tyson took the stage and said — to everyone’s surprise — that there is still more she would like to achieve.
Her speech began with a question from a young woman who asked her, “Now that you have made it, what else are you going to do?” Tyson recounted her response, “I said, ‘My dear, the day I feel that I have made it, I am finished.’”
The accomplished actress dedicated her award to the many women throughout the world who are still fighting for justice.
“Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross hosted the femme event with her usual charm. Over the course of the evening, she walked into the audience while posing the general question, “What words best describe a woman?”
Ross’ onscreen daughter and “Black-ish” costar Yara Shahidi thoughtfully responded to the question, “Gorgeous human beings trying to find their way in the world.”
The ceremony also included an appearance by singer-songwriter Linda Perry performing hits “What’s Up” and “Beautiful.”
NBC’s Hoda Kotb shared her personal experience of what it was like as a career woman.
“I’ve worked in a lot of local anchor situations where I’ve sat next to a guy who’s made double or more than I made and I didn’t even know it,” she said.
“It happened to me in my 50s, and I think it happens to all of us at one point where you just say to yourself, ‘I’m worth more than that’ and you have to be willing to walk,” she continued. “It takes a moment to own that, and it’s hard, but when you do it, it’s like exhaling. You feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, I found myself.’”
Maggie Gyllenhaal was surprised when her “The Real Thing” co-star Ewan McGregor presented her award for outstanding female actor in a leading drama in “The Honorable Woman.”
“It’s that expression of real humanity and that sense of being ourselves, even a little tiny bit of ourselves,” Gyllenhaal said, “that allows us to make a connection to other people.”
The speech ended with a toast to her fellow honorees as well as both women and men who inspired her.
The Gracies are presented by the AWM Foundation and supports their educational programs, charitable activities, public service and scholarship campaigns that benefit women in media.
The gala is followed by a luncheon ceremony in New York on June 22.