Held at the Beverly Hilton and hosted by James Corden, the event, presented by Saks Fifth Avenue, raised money for WCRF and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. WCRF’s honorary chairs Rita Wilson, Kate Capshaw, and Steven Spielberg were also in attendance, along with guests Tom Ford, Lisa Kudrow, Julie Bowen, and Joe Manganiello.
Wilson, who co-founded the foundation, told Variety on the red carpet about her own battle with breast cancer in 2015.
“I didn’t think that I would be utilizing this event and the resources from this event by getting breast cancer, but I was so thankful that I was able to have the information that all women should have access to when they’re going through something like that,” she said. “We’re still trying to find the cure, we’re still trying to put the message out there that early detection is important and mammograms are important, and we’re supporting all the amazing scientists all over the country and the world who are working on better treatment, better detection, and finding the cure.”
During the show, Ford presented Hudson with the Nat King Cole Award, saying, “She has used that voice of hers time and time again to help others as she has become a symbol of strength and grace under pressure. For all the loss that she’s faced in her life, she has always stood up, not just for herself, but also for those less fortunate.”
Hudson took the stage and performed before her speech, as she said she needed to sing to calm herself down before talking in front of the large crowd.
“It’s beautiful and it’s lovely to live the lives that we all get to live, but I always find that it doesn’t matter if we can’t help someone else, if we can’t save a life, or even [lend] a helping hand to anybody. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you have,” the singer said in her speech. “To see others being blessed by your blessings, that’s my biggest inspiration in life.”
Wilson later presented the courage award to Vergara, highlighting the meaning of courage amid the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.
“When it comes to the subject of women in courage, we’re all living in remarkable times, and in remarkable times it’s probably a good idea to take a step back and listen to the voices of women who helped make these times of reckoning possible … in 2018 when it appears that time is finally up,” she said. “Courage, that is a word too many of us, even in this room, grew up associating with men rather than women. As we’ve seen in recent days in our business and in the students in Parkland, Fla., courage comes in every shape and size and gender and all ages, too.”
Vergara, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2000, has since become involved in the fight, saying in her speech, “My personal experience with cancer 18 years ago made me passionate about cancer research and one of my greatest joys is working with the team at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.” She then told a story about St. Jude’s treating a child from her native Colombia in need of a bone marrow transplant.
As host, Corden frequently teased Wilson’s husband, Tom Hanks, who is also an honorary chair member, for failing to attend the fundraiser. “He does not support cancer research,” the “Late Late Show” host joked. “He’s been very vocal about it. The tide is about to turn on that guy, let me tell you that right now.”
Later, he joked about Wilson’s “20 years in a loveless marriage with Tom Hanks,” and asked the audience to sympathize with what she goes through as his wife.
“Imagine what it’s like to wake up every day with a man who absolutely refuses to be here tonight, such is his lack of support for cancer research. And yet, she stood up and she said, ‘No, Woody [from ‘Toy Story’], Forrest [Gump], or whoever you think you are today, I’m going to stand up and make a difference. And just because you paint your hand red and place it on my face, I’ll never be that Wilson [from ‘Cast Away’] because I am a Wilson on a higher plane.'”
In his monologue, Corden also teased that, although WCRF has raised more than $70 million for cancer research, the group’s greatest achievement was getting “Pitbull and Steven Spielberg in the same room. For some reason, I just never saw their paths crossing.”
Pitbull closed out the night with a mini-concert of several of his hit songs, with Wilson dancing during the performance and Spielberg clapping along.