“I’ll always be an Aussie,” supermodel and entrepreneur Miranda Kerr told the crowd Saturday night at Los Angeles’ Skirball Cultural Center as she was honored along with other Australians in the entertainment industry at the 20th anniversary G’Day USA Arts Gala.
Kerr, “Avatar” star Sam Worthington and rising-star rapper The Kid Laroi were feted by the American Australian Association, a trade organization that nurtures ties between the U.S. and the southern hemisphere powerhouse. The evening also featured an emotional tribute to Olivia Newton-John, the Australian singer-actor who died in August at age 73 after a battle with breast cancer.
“Every day with Olivia was supernatural,” said Paul Hogan, the veteran Australian comedian and performer, recounting his first meeting with Newton-John at a TV taping at the Sydney Opera House in the 1980s. He also remembered his last time working with when her, when he asked her to shoot a cameo for him as a favor. He couldn’t help but notice how much she struggled to move. But as he helped her around, she made a point of telling him to think about adjusting the scene to allow a group of extras to work inside rather than outside in the Australian winter chill.
“The kid was in pain but she was worried about the extras getting cold,” Hogan said. “She was the nicest person you’d ever want to meet.” Newton-John’s husband, John Easterling, and daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, were on hand for a musical tribute featuring a medley of the “Grease” and “Xanadu” star’s biggest hits, performed by Aussie musician Delta Goodrem.
Worthington, star of “Avatar” and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” had some fun with his acceptance speech for the organization’s excellence in film and TV Award, which was presented by his fellow “Avatar” star Stephen Lang. Worthington noted that after living for more than a decade in Los Angeles, his friends down under tease him about losing touch with his Aussie roots.
He then unleashed a string of salty Australian slang expressions — most of which were unintelligible to non-natives — to describe his excitement at the award and how he made it in Hollywood. At one point in the rapid-fire monologue he even veered into a tribute to Aussie rockers AC/DC (“She was fast machine/She kept her motor clean/She was the best damn woman that I ever seen,” he said, quoting lyrics from the band’s 1980 smash “You Shook Me All Night Long”).
The night began with Grammy-nominated star the Kid Laroi providing a surprise acoustic performance of his hit song “Stay,” with his mother and father in the crowd. Singer Mi-kaisha, an American Australian Association Indigenous Arts scholar, performed her song “Eternity,” and G Flip delivered a moving performance of their song “Lover.”
Earlier in the night, G Flip hinted at an appearance in the upcoming season of hit Netflix docusoap “Selling Sunset.”
“I might maybe make an appearance,” the singer told Variety. “Maybe, maybe.”
The singer, songwriter, drummer and producer G Flip, aka Georgia Claire Flipo, created songs “Drink Too Much” and “Killing My Time” as well as their most recent single “Waste Of Space.”
G Flip is dating “Selling Sunset” star Chrishell Stause, an agent at the West Hollywood-based luxury real estate Oppenheim Group on the Emmy-nominated show, which has been renewed for its sixth and seventh seasons.
“I would totally let [Chrishell] sell my house if she wanted to do it,” G Flip remarked.
Pop superstar Katy Perry was also on hand as the presenter of Excellence in the Arts kudo to Kerr, in recognition of her Kora Organics skincare products line. Perry is now married to Kerr’s former husband, actor Orlando Bloom. Perry acknowledged her unconventional family ties to Kerr (who is now married to Snap’s Evan Spiegel, who was also present) when delivering her award.
“Many of you may be confused as to why I’m presenting Miranda with this award,” Perry said. “It doesn’t fit the ex-wife, new wife narrative. Many in the media would like to see us mud wrestle…but this is about love, and Miranda is love.”
For her part, Kerr also demonstrated her Australian bona fides by invoking a popular sports cheer: “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” she shouted into the mic. “Oi, oi, oi,” came the response.
Funds raised by the gala support the American Australian Association and its art scholarships to emerging Australian and American artists studying in the other country, with an emphasis on supporting Indigenous artists. The gala’s presenting sponsors were Fox, Margot McKinney, News Corp, Screen Australia, Stan, Thomas Foods and Tourism Australia. Gold sponsors included City National Bank, Qantas and Variety.
“Elvis” director Baz Luhrmann, one of the most prominent Australians in Hollywood, was recognized as having been an inaugural G’Day Gala honoree back in 2003. Lurhmann also emphasized the importance of the American Australian Association and the importance of the support it provides Australian artists. “I don’t think you can find a production or a record without an Australian in it” these days, he enthused.
(Pictured: G Flip, Mi-kaisha, Miranda Kerr, Delta Goodrem, Paul Hogan, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang and John Easterling)