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To kick off the Matrix Awards on Monday afternoon, Andy Cohen played a question-based Watch What Happens Live game with the New York Women in Communications luncheon’s honorees. The host asked Lena Dunham what she would do if she suddenly woke up one day as a man. She instantly responded with laughter: “Kill myself!”
In all seriousness, Dunham instinctively responded that way “because I feel so passionately to be doing the work of being female right now. I feel so lucky to be among these women and to be redefining what that means for us, to be continuing the work of [presenter] Gloria [Steinem] and her peers, and to be looking ahead at what needs to be done to preserve rights that should already be intact, and to also carve out new areas that we never even imagined were possible for us,” she explained during her acceptance speech.
Dunham spoke without a prepared speech, and noted that throughout this election year, she’s realized the growing importance of intergenerational female friendship — or lack thereof. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is a level of aggression between women of different ages that comes from a lack of understanding of each other’s struggles. That is so painful to watch,” said the Girls creator and star. Her observation echoed a comment that Steinem, who introduced Dunham, made: “We are not ranked, we are linked.”
However, if Donald Trump wins the election, she plans to move to Canada. “I know a lot of people have been threatening to do this, but I really will,” Dunham told Cohen. “I know a lovely place in Vancouver and I can get my work done from there.”
Katie Couric, left, and Nancy Gibbs. Photo credit: Maryanne Russell Photography, Inc.
Katie Couric presented the Matrix Award to Time editor Nancy Gibbs, who called for unity during this tense election year. “This political season has been so different from anything we’ve ever seen, it’s like it was expertly designed not to bring us together but to tear us apart,” she reflected. “I actually think we all want our country to be great and our children to be safe and our economy to be both strong and fair, but you’d never know it by the way we’ve been talking to each other this season. I take this as a challenge and an invitation to all of us.”
NBCUniversal’s Cable Entertainment Group chairman Bonnie Hammer introduced honoree Janice Min, who revealed that, after editing a countless number of profiles on notable people in Hollywood, “I’ve come to observe that successful people have a quirk or bug that makes them operate or think differently. The thing is, we all have that ‘defect’ in us, but most of us spend too much time of our lives — first as children, then as adults — fighting, trying desperately to fit in and conceal our weirdness, our so-called defects.”
The co-president and chief creative officer of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group revealed how her sense of difference has been a professional asset. “Being an outsider, even though I’m very good at pretending I’m not, made me a better listener, a more empathetic and sensitive person, and an editor who can observe others and tell their stories like no one else can, in my own way,” said Min. She also advised the event’s student honorees: “Instead of thinking of yourself as weird on those off-days, think of those kooky, embarrassing traits of yours as your differences and, largely, your strengths.”
George Lucas and Mellody Hobson. Photo credit: Maryanne Russell Photography, Inc.
Former Senator Bill Bradley introduced Ariel Investments president and Dreamworks Animation board chairman Mellody Hobson, who paid tribute to Prince by recalling his performance at her wedding to George Lucas, who sat in the audience. And, introduced by CNN’s Jamie Gangel, A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc recalled the valuable lessons she learned while rowing crew, including learning to capsize, change course, take comfort in discomfort and row in the same direction as your teammates. She’s still working on asking for help from others. “I’m not that good at it, but I can’t think of a time when I’ve reached out to my crew or even some people on this stage — Janice, Bonnie — and they haven’t come to my side, nor have I regretted asking for it,” she said. “We will need to make a commitment to each other to continue the dialogue. Change takes time.”
Nancy Dubuc. Photo credit: Getty
The annual awards ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City also honored GE chief marketing officer Linda Boff (presented by GE vice chair Beth Comstock), L’Oreal group president Carol Hamilton (presented by UNICEF president and CEO Caryl Stern) and Kaplow Communications founder and CEO Liz Kaplow (presented by Hearst senior vp and chief communications officer Debra Shriver). The luncheon presented 22 students with more than $136,000 in scholarships.
Photo credit: Maryanne Russell Photography, Inc.
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