Melissa McCarthy says Monday night’s InStyle Awards at the Getty Center was her first big public outing since the onset of the pandemic. “I went into a CVS like two months ago and was like, ‘Uhhh, I don’ know what to do,’” she said from the stage after being presented with this year’s Icon Award from her “Nine Perfect Strangers” co-star Nicole Kidman.
Earlier, on the arrivals carpet, she told me, “This is the first time I’m with humans besides my fella and the humans I bore.”
And that’s when things got emotional. As we were talking, fellow honoree Simone Biles walked by. “Oh, my God, I just love you,” McCarthy said to the Olympic gymnast.
McCarthy began to cry as she told Biles how much she means to her and her young daughters. Wiping away tears, McCarthy said to me, “I gotta get a Kleenex. I think I’m losing my mind. We went to see their show — Simone and all the Olympians — and there were these performance pieces that were all about mental health — don’t shame me, this is who I am. It was so powerful. She must be like, ‘Who’s that crazy old lady?’”
The evening, which took place outdoors, marked the return of the InStyle Awards after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Guests were required to provide proof of full vaccination.
As Rep. Katie Porter, who was given the Badass Woman Award, faced the photographers screaming for her by her first name, she said, “I’m not used to this. This is not my typical thing.”
“There are a lot of reporters and photographers on Capitol Hill, and they often will yell and chase you down, but it’s Representative Porter, not Katie,” she said. “There’s a similar vibe, but there it’s more for the quote and here it’s more for the photo. Here, they’re asking about a different sort of infrastructure — like how do you walk in those shoes and things like that.” Upon receiving her award by “Hacks” star Hannah Einbinder, Porter thanked Christian Siriano for designing a dress for her that had pockets.
Inauguration Day poet Amanda Gorman helped honor Biles by reciting an original poem she wrote about the athlete. “I am here to celebrate the symbol that is Simone,” Gorman said. “Most well known for being the most accomplished gymnast of our time, but it is time we see Simone as far more than her 32 medals. She is a champion because she never settles for less than the rebel she is. That is what it means to be Biles bold. A beauty to behold at just 24 years old, she is such a treasure. Her worth measures more than gold.”
Biles thanked InStyle and the magazine’s editor-in-chief Laura Brown for getting her out of a leotard for the night, but then delivered a passionate speech about self-acceptance.
“When I was starting out there were people who talked about the way I wore my hair or how big my legs were, but I learned to block out the noise because after all, how can I tumble or have multiple moves named after me without the power in my legs?” Biles said.
During a break in the program, Biles’ parents, who recorded their daughter’s remarks on their phones, were tapped on their shoulders by a statuesque stranger. “Hi, I’m Cindy Crawford,” she said.
Other honorees included stylists Samantha McMillen and Jason Bolden, designers Michael Kors and Anifa Mvuemba, makeup artist Nina Park and hairstylist Lona Vigi. Presenters also included Reese Witherspoon, Zoë Kravitz, Christian Louboutin, Storm Reid, Kate Hudson and Elle Fanning.
“One of my favorite things is like just watching everybody say hi [because] we all haven’t seen each other in so long,” Witherspoon said before presenting Vigi’s award.
Dinner featured a grilled little gems salad followed by baked halibut with a gruyere crust before an earl grey pot de crème for dessert. As a fog rolled in and temperatures dropped, staff handed out shawls to guests because the portable heaters were running out of fuel.