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The Beverly Hilton was graced with royalty as his Serene Highness Prince Albert the II of Monaco and his wife the Serene Highness Princess Charlene arrived at the hotel for the 35th annual Princess Grace Awards Gala. The awards are part of a national program dedicated to recognizing emerging theater, film and dance artists and helping to guide them at the beginning of their careers.
The show was hosted by Kristen Davis and opened with a captivating performance by tap dancers and Princess Grace Award winners James Samuels Smith, Joseph Wiggan and Michelle Dorrance.
Television writer and playwright Bridget Carpenter was given the Princess Grace Statue Award and she spoke to the importance of art in helping people find their way during difficult times.
“I think in this world right now we are besieged. And I don’t know what is ahead, but I do know that I need art and we need art and I trust you to lead us where we need to go,” she said.
A live auction raised thousands of dollars to support the awards’ mission and was highlighted by a spirited bidding war that broke out for a trip to South Africa, that was eventually purchased for $55,000.
The prince himself took to the stage to introduce James Cameron and honor him with the Prince Rainer III Award, which is named after the prince’s father.
“James Cameron’s success and talent is not where my personal admiration for him lies. He has become a champion of one of the causes near and dear to my heart, the protection of the ocean and the fight against global climate change,” the prince said. “As I continue to work to better the environment, I consider myself fortunate to know that James Cameron, the force of nature that he is, is also working towards the same goal.”
Cameron took to the stage and spoke candidly about both challenges and solutions he saw to saving the environment.
“People ask me if I’m an optimist or a pessimist about the future and I answer both. I’m pessimistic about our systems, our so-called leaders, about powerful interests who control things and operate without very much empathy. But I’m optimistic about human ingenuity, about our ability to create and to innovate. We’re smart monkeys. We need to science the shit out of this. I’m optimistic about the human spirit.”
The star-studded evening ended with Sara Bareilles performing a short set of songs at the piano, including her hit “Brave,” which had the audience cheering loudly.
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