The Humane Society of the United States brought barnyard staples to Paramount Studios’ concrete jungle backlot Saturday night.
The HSUS decorated the urban set lot with bales of hay, sunflowers and animal silhouettes to raise awareness for its campaigns aimed at protecting farm animals. Around 300 people, some clad in vegan leather and faux fur, arrived to show their support for the organization’s cause and honor both Wallis Annenberg and Kesha for their work toward animal welfare.
HSUS CEO Kitty Block talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the importance of recognizing the work aimed at helping farm animals specifically given that nearly 8 billion animals are slaughtered in the United States for food supply. While there’s been reform in factory farming, with big companies going cage- and confinement-free, progress can only move upward, she said.
“All these companies (are) stepping up to do the right thing for animals,” Block said. “It’s exciting to see and it’s the power of consumerism.”
Block and the HSUS welcomed a number of celebrity guests like Scandal‘s Bellamy Young, who hosted the event. Young, who has been a vegan and HSUS supporter since her college days, told THR about her experiences with veganism and how others can contribute to animal protection.
She said that her “heart and…body were aligned” when she opted for a vegan diet in college and believes that switching for the meatless option also means helping the environment. But for those who are hesitant to make the switch, Bellamy said it doesn’t have to be a task.
“It doesn’t mean that people need to be vegan by any measure, it just means eating ethically, eating consciously, maybe cutting meat out a few times a week,” she told THR. “It can make a difference for everyone alive today and for everyone to come.”
Other known vegans and animal lovers in attendance included actress and musician Harley Quinn Smith, who spoke to THR about working with her father, Kevin Smith, for the upcoming film Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.
Harley Quinn Smith plays Milly in the 2019 film and said that though working with her father promises fun moments on set, it also means working professionally with him, which she cherishes.
“Working together is a really special part of our relationship,” she said. “He definitely doesn’t treat me differently because I’m his daughter, which I wouldn’t want him to.”
She also worked on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and told THR that the opportunity still feels unreal. “It’s a dream. I feel like it didn’t happen sometimes,” she said.
After a cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres like vegan spring rolls and pot stickers, the evening moved into Paramount Studios’ Stage 16, a bare sound set transformed into a gala ballroom with vibrant flowers, a decorative blue, flower wall and a stage boasting large pig and cow silhouette statues.
The first honoree of the evening was the Annenberg Foundation’s president, Wallis Annenberg, who received the HSUS Lifetime Achievement Award. The renowned Los Angeles philanthropist started her acceptance speech with a quote from comedian Elaine Boozer: “If you’re not covered in dog hair, your life is empty.”
Annenberg went on to discuss her foundation’s efforts to protect and help all kinds of animals, from dogs and cats who benefit from the services at the Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista to the natural wildlife of Southern California. When it comes to protecting animals and developing the human-animal relationship, Annenberg said giving back is all worth it.
“I think it’s worth the cost of a lint brush a million times over to get all that joy, love and enlightenment in return,” she said.