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Inside the Australians in Film Gala: Monica Lewinsky, Hannah Gadsby and ‘Love, Simon’s’ Keiynan Lonsdale

The seventh annual Australians in Film gala on Wednesday night offered Monica Lewinsky the opportunity to thank comedian Hannah Gadsby for making her feel more than just a “punchline.”

Earlier this year, Gadsby referenced Lewinsky’s White House scandal with former president Bill Clinton in her acclaimed Netflix special “Nanette.”

“Because of Hannah and ‘Nanette,’ it has been empowering for people around the world to see that reclaiming your narrative, fighting back, and calling out sexism and homophobia can actually contribute to your success rather than hurt your professional career,” Lewinsky while presenting Gadsby with the Annette Kellerman Award. “For me, there was special meaning in the show. Hannah reminded people that I personally had been, in the past and sometimes still in present day, a punchline.”

She added, “I know based on the response to the show that it’s not just me but people everywhere who’ve recognized their own pain and struggle in her words and then felt, as they watched her, that change and hope is possible for them too.”

Gadsby said in her acceptance speech that she was surprised by the strong response to her stand-up set. “I expected the show to peel me off into the margins by telling my truth so brutally, but I have been so overwhelmed by how positively the show has been received and how connected I am to the world in a way that I never knew how honestly disconnected I was,” she added.

Hannah GadsbyAustralians in Film Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Oct 2018

Also at Wednesday night’s event, Damon Herriman reflected on his good fortune to be playing serial killer Charles Manson not once, but twice.

“I didn’t have any second thoughts,” he mused on the blue carpet at Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles. “Any actor is going to want to work for David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino. I was mostly excited and scared.”

Herriman recently wrapped filming on Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” after he worked for Fincher on the second season of Netflix’s “Mindhunter.” The movie will be released in July by Sony. Herriman was presented the Orry-Kelly international award by his “Justified” and “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” co-star Timothy Olyphant. Herriman noted that his breakthrough role came 14 years ago.

“In 2004, I was very lucky to get cast in ‘House of Wax,” he said .”It’s amazing how getting just one job changes everything.”

Keiynan Lonsdale, star of “The Flash” and “Love, Simon,” received the breakthrough award. He admitted he had not rehearsed an acceptance speech in order to give a truthful account of what’s like to be a gay black actor.

“Let’s keep going and speed up the process,” he told the audience. “It’s kind of rare to to see a black openly queer actor out there. I say that not for people to applaud. But why is that such a rare thing?”

Keiynan LonsdaleAustralians in Film Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Oct 2018

Another breakthrough award was also given to “Sharp Objects” star Eliza Scanlen, who was absent due to her shooting schedule on the upcoming film “Little Women.”

Filmmaker Simon Kinberg presented film editor Lee Smith with the Fox Studios international award. Smith has been nominated for three Oscars and won this year for “Dunkirk.”

Producer Mark Johnson received the Ausfilm International Award from Debra Richards for his contribution to the Australian film industry. Johnson noted that he’s shot four films in Australia, most recently the Simon Baker drama “Breath.”

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to get to Australia,” he added.

Actor Sam Worthington provided a distinctive fashion touch by wearing a “Climate Change Is Real” pullover. “I’m looking forward to having a future on this planet,” he explained.

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