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The Environmental Media Association (EMA) held its first annual Honors Benefit Gala on Saturday evening. Over the course of the night, Jane Fonda, Elizabeth Olsen, Oneida Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter and LA Car Guy president Mike Sullivan were all honored for their contributions, both locally and globally, to making the planet a safer and cleaner place to live for generations to come.
EMA, which is headed by president and CEO Debbie Levin, is a nonprofit organization that relies on its influential entertainment industry tastemakers, entrepreneurs in finance and technology, and green icons to raise awareness and promote environmental progress. Although the organization has held Summit conferences and award ceremonies in the past, Saturday was their first-ever gala, which focused a considerable amount on President Donald Trump and his administration.
The event, which was hosted by actress/activist Ellen Pompeo, opened with remarks from Levin, who urged attendees to use their voices to make a change and stand up against the multibillion-dollar corporations and federal government who are “poisoning our communications by buying their ability to tell lies.”
“We have to be the voice for our planet. Our truth needs to be louder,” urged Levin, who revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that the Trump administration has added a multitude of challenges for EMA since taking office. “I’m not quite sure why they’re not moving forward with sustainability. Sustainable businesses and energy is the best business you can be in, and [Trump] is a business man.”
For the first honor of the evening, Lily Tomlin presented close friend and Grace and Frankie co-star Fonda with the Female EMA Lifetime Achievement Award. In her introduction, Tomlin noted Fonda’s desire to be a good citizen beyond her stardom and how she has “taken whatever power she had to make an important and useful difference in the world.”
Adding to what seemed to be the theme for the night, Fonda used her brief time onstage to make a statement about the country’s political leadership. “This is an existential crisis that we’re in,” explained the actress/activist, encouraging the audience to get out and vote. “We have to do everything we can to take back the house in November. If anything can save us, it’s gonna be taking back our government.”
Speaking to THR, Tomlin added: “[Trump] is dangerous — he’s unfortunately dangerous to the planet, if nothing else. If we could raise Trump’s consciousness, that would be helpful.”
Following the first award, guests including Wendie Malick, Ed Begley Jr. and Lance Bass dined on an exclusive vegetarian/vegan, organic and locally sourced menu by chef Ludovic Lefebvre.
Later in the evening, Olsen was given the EMA Futures Award, highlighting her involvement with The Latitude Project, an organization focused on alleviating poverty, which was started by Jennifer and Alanna Tynan, who were also in attendance. In addition, Halbritter received the Male EMA Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in tribal advancement, while Sullivan received the EMA Corporate Responsibility Award, earning himself the crown of selling more alternative fuel cars than anyone in North America.
To close out the night, EMA invited Snoop Dogg to deliver a highl -anticipated performance, which got the crowd on its feet, including the 80-year-old Fonda, who danced onstage with the rapper. Guests also were presented goodie bags before their departure, featuring a number of sustainable products inside a green, insulated EMA tote.
While the event seemed to focus on Trump and his stance on environmental topics, many attendees also spoke to the simple need for raised awareness about Earth’s rising environmental crisis, touching upon issues such as global warming, the clean water epidemic and pollution.
“The biggest danger we have is not having people be aware and not having the actual truth,” argued Levin. “Everybody is so segmented with what they read, but we have the true story and our voice has to be louder.”
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