The event, co-sponsored by Variety and the Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Building, honored Williams and unveiled her portrait to mark the occasion. Leron Gubler, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, explained that the luncheon was created in 2000 to “recognize celebrities who’ve made a difference in Hollywood.” Steve Allen, the original host of “The Tonight Show,” was the first to be honored at the event.
“I ended up doing musical theater in high school and some theater in college and Broadway was the tangible goal for me,” Williams said as she accepted her award. “Hollywood was never on the radar because it was one of those things that was unattainable.”
She said how she went on to exceed her expectations by singing at the Oscars in 1996 and getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010 and much more throughout her career spanning over 30 years. Williams said, “Even though I feel like an outsider because this is all a dream, the fact that I can look at my life and see my achievements and know that Hollywood was such an integral part of what made me me and what’s helped my career, I thank you.”
Prior to Williams’s acceptance speech, Steven Gaydos, vice president and executive editor at Variety, introduced a video highlighting the success Williams has had in film, television, music, and theater. The montage included scenes from “The Pick-Up Artist,” “Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives,” and her singing the Oscar-winning song “Colors of the Wind” and from Disney’s “Pocahontas.”
In addition to giving Williams her award and portrait, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce also ushered in its new 2018-2019 chair, Donelle Dadigan, and swore in new directors and officers.