Taraji P. Henson brought down the house at Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards on Wednesday, talking about equal pay for women. “If I do just as good a job as men, why shouldn’t I get paid the same?” she said as the audience hooted in approval. “Is it because I don’t have a penis? In this day and age I can attach one. I have penises in many different colors at home.”
The honorees, who have been in the entertainment business for a couple of decades each, exhorted women to tell their stories, help each other out and stand up for their rights. Among the current topics addressed were Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the Orlando shooting and a ban on assault weapons.
Women in Film president Cathy Schulman started earlier in the evening at the Beverly Hilton by telling the guests, “Gender parity in Hollywood is important because what we see on the screen affects what decisions people make,” Schulman said. “We are the keeper of the stories; if we don’t include women we are not being fair.”
Natalie Dormer, the recipient of the Max Mara Face of the Future Award, which was presented by the company’s Nicola Maramotti, said she was “proud to be the Face of the Future during this time of change.”
CAA’s Hylda Queally received the Sue Mengers Award from Cate Blanchett, who tried to imitate an Irish accent and then did an Indian accent, confessing it was the only one she could do. “Like immigrants from many parts of the world, I was welcomed without a wall,” Queally said. She found there was no focus on international talent so she took it on, and today works with stars from the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Kenya, India and Australia among other countries. “I not only represent them, I am their representative in the most liberal sense.”
Like many other speakers she said it was not about men vs. women. “This is not about one gender walking in front and another walking behind. It’s about both genders walking side by side.”
The BMW Dorothy Arzner Director’s Award honoree, Lesli Linka Glatter (“dubbed LL Cool G” by presenter Claire Danes) echoed that sentiment. “I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as my sons,” she said. Glatter also listed several bullet points for up-and-coming directors, including: “be tenacious, very tenacious, don’t pretend to know everything, know everyone’s name on the production from the first day, have a BS detector, wear comfortable shoes, reapply lipstick.”
Henson, who received the Lucy Award from Fox’s Dana Walden, had her own tip for rising talent: don’t listen to naysayers. Relating her history she said she “walked across the stage and received my degree with my son on my hip.” She didn’t listen when she was told a 26-year-old single mother couldn’t make it in Hollywood or that “black women can’t open a movie.”
She concluded: “Art is powerful, if we don’t have an example for humanity on the screen, what are we doing? That is how we change the world.”
The cap for the evening was the presentation of the Crystal Award to eight producers. Kate Beckinsale, who did the honors, said WIF couldn’t settle on just one and selected eight: Denise Di Novi, Lianne Halfon, Lynda Obst, Jane Rosenthal, Paula Wagner (whose award was collected by her husband, Rick Nicita, as she was shooting in Buffalo), Paula Weinstein, Lauren Shuler Donner and Lucy Fisher.
“Some of us are on our second career, second husband, second Crystal Award,” Donner said. “Above all, be the heroine of your story, not the victim,” she added, repeating a Nora Ephron quote.
In her speech, Rosenthal said, “Let’s put a woman in the White House, let’s ban assault weapons, let’s use our voices to tell stories.”