Lena Waithe admitted at last night’s 27th annual Elle Women in Hollywood event that she tried to convince Halle Berry not to make her directorial debut with the upcoming feature “Bruised” because she was worried that the Oscar winner was taking on too much at once. “I told her to think long and hard about it before she made that decision,” Waithe said while presenting Berry with her Elle honor. “When she came back to me a few weeks later, she told me she understood why I was scared — because I love her and I wanted to protect her. And she was right. But then she said, ‘If I don’t do this, I’ll never forgive myself. I gotta see what I’m made of.’”
Not only did Berry direct the film but she also stars in the movie as an MMA fighter. “It has been my honor and my privilege to direct my first film,” Berry said. “What I learned along the way is that it’s f–king hard. …It’s hard for all of us, and it’s hard for all of us as woman to find our voice and step into our power and to assume that. I had to learn how to do that in the last two and a half years.”
“I know she was scared for me,” Berry said, adding, “[But] I knew I had 30 years of experience, I had people who loved me and cared for me and I had earned enough good will in this industry that they would show up and help.”
Berry gave a shout to director Patty Jenkins, who was on hand to present to honoree Gal Gadot. “You’ve inspired me,” Berry said. “You allowed me to know that I maybe could direct a film one f–king day because you did. There’s so many times where as women, we didn’t think we had the right to direct, like a director is a man’s job, that we can’t do that, that we can only be the dancing f–king bear. Well, you know what? We can be more than the dancing f–king bear. We can be in charge.”
Elle Women in Hollywood returned this year after skipping 2020 due to the pandemic. The event took place at the Academy Museum and also honored “Eternals” stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan and Lauren Ridloff. However, the Marvel crew wasn’t able to attend because they were self-isolating after being told they had possible exposure to COVID. While they were surely missed, the show must go on. Each of their presenters still delivered speeches. Chan and Ridloff sent in video acceptance remarks while Eva Longoria read Jolie’s speech and Demi Moore did the same for Hayek.
Kerry Washington presented to Rita Moreno and Debbie Allen helped honor Jennifer Hudson.
Longoria hosted the festivities. Guests and presenters also include Jon M. Chu, Nyle DiMarco, Addison Rae, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Hailey Bieber, Diego Boneta, Alexandra Daddario, Lucy Hale, Ciara, Saniyya Sidney, Diana Silvers, Jurnee Smollett and Nicole Ari Parker.
Elle Women in Hollywood was presented by Ralph Lauren and Lexus. Guests had to show proof of full vaccination and a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of attendance.
“I feel so grateful to be in a room with all of you wonderful women,” Gadot said. “I truly feel fortunate to be part of this complex community. And I love that women in Hollywood are working together to introduce new kinds of heroes to the world, heroes that come in all genders and rely on different strengths and powers.”