Julia Roberts has been an advocate of Dr. Anthony Fauci for some time now. On March 4, Roberts mentioned her family has been profoundly inspired by the doctor’s work with the COVID-19 and HIV viruses, presenting Fauci with amfAR’s Award of Courage for 2021.
“Your calm and your reassurance have left an indelible mark on me and my family, and I know so many families like us,” Roberts said in a virtual presentation of amfAR’s fundraiser A Gala for Our Time, which streamed on YouTube. “To see you always pound the ship, no matter what the circumstances were…to me, that’s true courage.”
Roberts said about Fauci, “I know courage means something different to my 13-year-old than it does to me at 53 years old. We are all so beautifully aware of what you have been doing for the entire world, but particularly this country, this last almost-year.”
As she did in a conversation with Fauci for last year’s “Pass the Mic” online conversation series, Roberts, who took home the Award of Courage from amfAR in 2017, said that as a parent she appreciated Fauci’s work.
“Receiving awards like this is so wonderful and it’s always nice to get recognition,” Fauci said. “Many of the unsung heroes out there, I want to make sure that we tip our hats to them, particularly the healthcare workers who very bravely every day put their lives and their safety on the line to take care of terribly ill people. So we’re all really part of a team. I might be a bit more visible than they are, but what they do is equally as important as anything that I do.”
Also honored at the amfAR gala was Glenn Close, recently nominated for a Golden Globe for Ron Howard’s “Hillbilly Elegy.” Close’s “Stepford Wives” costar and longtime friend Bette Midler presented Close with the second of Award of Courage.
“A lot of times for me, at certain points in my career, I’ve always asked myself, when a question has come up which might need some courage, ‘What is the alternative?’” Close said. “Not to do it.”
Midler gave a shoutout to Close’s virtual live reading performance last October of Roy Cohn in “Angels of America,” the Tony Kushner play about the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Cohn, the closeted gay attorney who pursued charges of Americans suspected of Communism in the mid-20th Century, was one of Donald Trump’s associates early in Trump’s career.
Performances by Rita Ora (covering Eric Clapton’s “Change the World”), Kelly Clarkson (covering Patty Griffin’s “Kite Song”) and Ava Max (her own “Kings & Queens”) kept things moving briskly in the 32-minute ceremony.
Awardee introductions and amfAR statistics and achievements were spliced together with quotes from stars including Lee Daniels, Morgan Freeman, Catherine O’Hara, Billy Porter, Heidi Klum, Diplo, Boy George, Chelsea Handler, Nathan Lane, Emily Hampshire, Kenny Ortega, Iman, Cheyenne Jackson and Jonathan Pryce.
Magic Johnson, one of the first American celebrities to go public with an HIV diagnosis, also paid tribute to Fauci, who worked on Johnson’s historic case 30 years ago.
Since 1983, amfAR has raised more than $810 million for AIDS research and, more recently, COVID-19 research, the foundation’s statistics say.