A gospel choir sang a tribute to Aretha Franklin, Charlize Theron read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s apposite plea for the raising of enlightened boys, and Tiffany Haddish raised the roof in a hilarious and touching letter to her younger self at PORTER’s third annual Incredible Women Gala in Los Angeles.
Set in the grand surrounds of historical women’s club The Ebell (where Amelia Earhart made her last public appearance, no less), hosts Lucy Yeomans, PORTER Editor-in-Chief, and Donna Langley, Universal Pictures Chairman, welcomed guests to a night of passionate rhetoric, poetry, music and a wealth of female wit, all in support of Vital Voices, the charity that invests in fearless female leadership.
“You are about to be entertained and enlightened, tickled and transformed,” announced emcee for the evening Minnie Driver, before she introduced a star-studded line-up from Amber Heard, who shared her own powerful open letter “To My Silent Sisters” – an entreaty to believe victims of abuse who find the courage to share their truth; to veteran singer and activist Annie Lennox, reading the words of late war correspondent Marie Colvin. On a lighter note, Freaks and Geeks star Busy Philipps, fresh from the American Music Awards, delivered a passage of Nora Ephron prose with characteristic dry wit and aplomb.
Hollywood cool couple, director Sam Taylor-Johnson and her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson, took to the stage respectively to deliver two very different performances: Mr Taylor-Johnson read a historical letter from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie (an on-point reminder of the role that supportive men play in women’s ongoing fight for equality), while Sam spoke the words of Meryl Streep in defense of the bravery of female journalists.
In all, it was an evening of glamour and gravitas showcasing the game-changing power of unfettered female speech. “This is exactly the kind of evening we need right now,” said actress Alice Eve, who was among the many guests including model and entrepreneur Miranda Kerr, Netflix VP of Original Documentary and Comedy Lisa Nishimura, and Time’s Up founder Tina Tchen, all of whom joined the spirited cocktail reception, followed by a gala dinner and performances, designed by event guru Yifat Oren of Oren Co.
In the words of 20-year-old poet Amanda Gorman – the first US Youth Poet Laureate – who brought guests to their feet for a standing ovation for her stirring verse We Rise, “It’s more than listening, it’s more than hearing, it’s clearing the way, cheering on other women who have a truth to say.” It was a sentiment that echoed as guests continued to mingle and, indeed in the case of Donna Langley, dance into the night, accompanied by a rousing gospel rendition of Aretha Franklin’s Think.
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