Ethan Hawke, Walter Mosley Honored at Brooklyn Academy of Music Gala

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for BAM
Ethan Hawke speaks onstage at the 2019 BAM Gala.

Hawke spoke about the importance of artists in community and sustaining the arts to keep the culture and mental health of America intact.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music gala honored Ethan Hawke and Walter Mosley at the Brooklyn Expo Center on Wednesday night.

“An institution like BAM is a direct ventricle into the heart of America,” Hawke told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s one of the best artistic institutions that we have, certainly in this city, but I think this city is a big part of the mental health of this country as far as arts and the collective intelligence of this country and they bring art from all over the world. It’s something that you kind of rely on.”

Hawke spoke about the importance of art supporting communities and bringing the world together, citing the international and multi-disciplinary work the organization presents and promotes.

“When I was a kid, I thought about art in relationship to myself, but as you get older you start to see yourself as a part of a community and you start to realize we’re all only as good as our generation or our community,” Hawke said. “The institutions that create a space for these kinds of things to be shared, movies, plays, rock n roll, whatever it is. I’ve seen plays at BAM. I’ve seem movies at BAM. I’ve seen children’s music. I’ve seen rock n roll. This place is a heavyweight.”

Bobby Cannavale presented Hawke with the honor, speaking about the importance of Hawke’s role as artist and movie star. “There have been a lot of movie stars throughout history, but what there haven’t been are movie stars who are actual artists,” Cannavale said, listing out the diversity of Hawke’s resume from novels to screenwriting to directing in addition to his storied acting career.

Cannavale also keeps shifting through genres and mediums in his own career, and he spoke about the importance of storytelling.

“We get to shine a light on a facet of the human condition that is not a small thing,” Cannavale told THR. “I don’t think everybody can do it. I think that that’s something that is a noble thing to do in its own way. That’s the best I have to offer so I try to learn as much as I can about different types of people, I like to be able to tell stories from perspectives that I didn’t know before to try to understand people better and shine a light for other people to try to understand a little bit better.”

The evening also honored author Walter Mosley, and poet Staceyann Chin and her young daughter Zuri presented the award, citing Mosley’s prolific output and his advice to write for two hour a day. “Name any genre, I’m willing to be everything in my wallet that Walter has written something in that genre,” Chin said. She also praised him for painting complicated and complex portraits of black men in his work.

“The voices of America, black and otherwise and so deep when we manage to come together and open our hearts, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished, nothing that’s impossible,” Mosley said, before paying tribute to his friend John Singleton who died in April. Mosley and Singleton worked together on the FX series Snowfall. Singleton was set to introduce Mosley at the event before his death last month.

The evening also honored philanthropists William I. Campbell and Christine Wächter-Campbell were also honored for their work with the organization and cultural philanthropy. The evening concluded with a performance from Neneh Cherry and an auction and after party.