In the midst of Coronavirus crisis, Andie MacDowell, Logan Browning and Yvette Nicole Brown were among those who put their worries aside to celebrate International Women’s Day at the National Women’s History Museum’s eighth annual Women Making History Awards.
MacDowell, Browning, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks and Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly were honored at Sunday’s event, held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, saluting women who have made significant contributions to their field and serve as an inspiration to women everywhere.
Still, guests were greeted with a sign at the entrance that reminded them to wash their hands and go home if they weren’t feeling well. Attendees also voiced their concerns about the virus and what comes next.
“They’re throwing so much stuff at us,” MacDowell said on the carpet. “They’re making us feel crazy. I wish we could hear from more people that have had it that are living because only 3% are dying. Can we please hear from the rest of them so we know what it’s like? I don’t understand why we’re not getting that information.”
But onstage, the actor spoke about a topic she’s all too knowledgeable about — ageism.
“Young people were shocked when I tell them when I turned 40 that the biggest question I got from female journalists too was ‘How does it feel to turn 40 and know you’re not going to work anymore?’” MacDowell recalled. “And the only way that I could fight that question because was to answer it in a way which strengthened me. I feel like I’m more beautiful now. I have more sex appeal now. … It did not happen to men. It happened to women.”
“Though all of us want to look our very best as we get older, I think that we need to recognize the longevity of being beautiful and that at every age we are beautiful and I think what makes a woman more beautiful in her 60s or 70s is not only her appearance but her spirit,” MacDowell said. “When I turned 60, I started thinking, you know, what, ‘What do I want my legacy to be?’ I don’t want to have accomplished so much in my life and not make a difference in the world.”
And part of that legacy can be already seen in her daughters Rainey and Margaret Qualley, who were on hand to present MacDowell with her honor.
“Our mom has inspired us daily since we were little girls,” Margaret Qualley said. “Her steely southern charm and steadfast approach for doing good work for everyone around her helps the stage for Rainey and I to be successful, independent women in a world that can sometimes be challenging to navigate.”
While accepting her honor, Browning also spoke about being inspired by her mom, who was in the audience wearing blue hair for colon cancer awareness month (Browning’s father passed away from the disease).
“I learned very young to be an action citizen,” Browning said. “You can be an activist every single day in every thing you do. When you see something wrong you need to say something,” she said.
And in the spirit of saying something, Yvette Nicole Brown shared that even though Elizabeth Warren — the candidate she’d been stumping for in the upcoming presidential election — dropped out of the race on March 5, she’s not giving up hope of seeing a woman president. “Like who got to decide that only men get to be president?” Brown said onstage. “I want all women to support each other.”
“I was gutted when Elizabeth dropped out,” she told Variety on the carpet. “[But] I am not giving up. I will continue to fight. I will continue to stand behind Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris. But yes, I’m annoyed about where we are in this world and why they don’t believe after watching Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi just annihilate that idiot left and right, they still think a woman can’t lead this nation.”