Jennifer Lawrence hopes to continue to use her voice for female empowerment.
“It’s not easy to speak out. It’s not easy to face criticism on a global scale. But the fact is I have been given a platform, and if I don’t use it, then I don’t deserve it,” the actress said at The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, presented by Lifetime, held Wednesday morning at Los Angeles’ Milk Studios.
Lawrence, who stars in Darren Aronofsky’s thriller mother!, made the comments upon being honored with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, given annually to a woman who has been a pioneer and philanthropic leader in her industry. Its previous recipients include Barbra Streisand, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, Halle Berry, Jodie Foster, Glenn Close, Barbara Walters and Tina Fey.
“This last year has been a trying and challenging time in our world and our industry specifically. Every day, we wake up to a myriad of headlines that deeply impact us, from around the globe,” said Lawrence. Yet of the honor’s previously recipients, she commended, “These women have shown what’s possible when we embrace our platforms and use our voices to inspire and ignite the hearts of humanity. Their stories are powerful, pivotal and echo far beyond the retweets or headlines we wake up to.”
“Let’s be outspoken, let’s be resilient,” concluded Lawrence, after candidly fawning over Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot. “Let’s make sure the young women who are receiving $1 million in scholarships through the remarkable Women in Entertainment Mentorship grow in an industry where outspoken women matter, where outspoken women lead, where all of our voices, ideas and the strength of our artistic community creates change in and out of the cinema. By doing so, we give back and give forward in the ways that matter most.”
In presenting the award to Lawrence, Lansing recalled their first meeting at a dinner party, where she was asked to give the actress advice about the perils of fame. “‘Don’t worry, I have a secret,’ she said. ‘I always knew I was going to be famous, so I am totally prepared for it,'” Lansing recalled Lawrence saying. “In that simple, direct, honest statement, I knew everything I needed to know about Jennifer. I knew she was a very special person and that she would be more than fine. Jennifer was unfiltered. She was authentic. And above all else, Jennifer was comfortable in her own skin. … I know that Jennifer will continue to be a role model and an inspiration for women everywhere. Because of Jennifer, I believe that young people will view philanthropy and giving back as just a natural part of their lives. It will no longer be something one does as one gets older, but rather it will become a part of our lives at a very young age. It will be about good ideas, about giving of our time and knowing that our voices matter at any age.”
Lawrence is the youngest person ever to receive the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award. In 2016, the four-time Academy Award nominee (and winner for Silver Linings Playbook) donated $2 million to establish the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Norton Children’s Hospital in her hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. The Jennifer Lawrence Foundation also assists a wide range of charitable organizations, supporting abused and neglected youth, along with many educational and health organizations. The actress recently joined the board of Represent.Us, the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign, which brings together conservatives, progressives and everyone in between to work toward fixing America’s corrupt political system. She also has been outspoken on issues of gender pay disparity and privacy rights in Hollywood.
At the breakfast, Sarah Silverman delivered opening remarks; Angelina Jolie gave the keynote speech; and Gal Gadot and Justin Timberlake were on hand to help present over $1 million in university scholarships to young women from disadvantaged backgrounds who have taken part in THR‘s highly competitive, Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program, now entering its 10th year. Amy Pascal also was honored in absentia with the Equity in Entertainment Award.
The VIP event coincided with the publication of THR’s annual list of the 100 most powerful women in entertainment, the definitive guide to the leading women in film and television, and was sponsored by American Airlines, Fiji Water, Forevermark, Gersh, eOne, SAG-AFTRA and Loyola Marymount University in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.