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Shonda Rhimes Calls for Better LGBT Representation in Hollywood: ‘People Deserve Realistic Portrayals’

The Los Angeles LGBT Center hosted its 48th Gala Vanguard awards on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, this year’s honorees included co-CEO of WME-IMG Ari Emanuel and former senior advisor to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett. Also in attendance were J.J. Abrams, Jimmy KimmelPeter BergWilson Cruz and WME-IMG’s other co-CEO, Patrick Whitesell.

The ceremony brings together leaders in the entertainment, corporate, and philanthropic industries to celebrate honorees for their support of the LGBT community. Speaking on behalf of his honor, Emanuel noted that it is important for those who have the ability to shed light on LGBT issues to do so.

“We have a huge platform based on the movies we make and on the TV shows we make and the things we do,” said Emanuel. “We have the ability to shed light on things or not, and I think it is important for all of us to shed light on everyone’s struggles or the injustices that people face.”

Emanuel’s activism goes as far back as his childhood, when his mother took him to protest to civil rights as a child. He went on to say that he channels those memories of marching as a child when giving back to discriminated communities.

“If someone is being prejudiced, it’s important to speak up on their behalf. That’s how I was raised,” he added.

WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel accepting his award at the Saturday night dinner. Stewart Cook/Variety/REX/Shutter

TV producer Shonda Rhimes, who presented the award to Jarrett, also explained the importance of LGBT representation on TV, among other communities that are struggling to be seen.

“We all exist in the world,” Rhimes said. “Everyone has the right the see themselves on the screen, and I think it’s really dangerous when that doesn’t happen. There is a tendency to marginalize or stereotype when these types of characters aren’t seen. People deserve realistic portrayals.”

Inside the sold-out event, the mood was politically charged, as many used their speeches to lash out at the Trump administration. In particular, Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, called Trump a “lying sociopath,” going on to say that Trump’s cabinet is not representative of the values that most Americans hold today.

“Our number of straight allies is not just a testament to Ari and Valerie. It’s also a reflection of where we have come as a society,” said Jean.

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