Margot Robbie and Producer Bruna Papandrea Honored at G’Day USA Australian Gala
"As a girl from the lucky country, living in the land of opportunity, I can say with absolute certainty that when you have opportunity collide with luck, incredible things can happen,” the Oscar nominee said.
The Aussie community recognized the women behind two of the year’s hottest projects — I, Tonya and Big Little Lies — on Saturday night at the G'Day USA gala at the Intercontinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) received the Excellence in Film Award, while producer Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies) was honored for her Outstanding Achievement in Film and Television at the 15th annual black-tie gala.
The diplomacy-center annual event was produced in part by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. Guests enjoyed an Australian lamb chop dinner by chef Curtis Stone and had stars Rebel Wilson, Colin Farrell, Rose Byrne and Olivia Newton-John take to the podium for the evening's entertainment and speeches.
The event followed what Robbie called “definitely one of the best weeks of my life.”
She started at the Australian premiere of I, Tonya and was still awake when she found out about her Academy Award nomination for best actress.
“It’s something you dream of, but would never ever dare to presume it would happen to you,” Robbie said.
Throughout the night, stars praised the actress’ portrayal of figure skater Tonya Harding.
Award presenter Amy Adams (Arrival) said Robbie “pulls off one of the most daring feats of empathy that we've seen in years,” and Allison Janney, Robbie’s on-screen mom, sent in a sweet congratulatory video. I, Tonya co-star Bojana Novakovic (Shameless) told The Hollywood Reporter that Robbie pushed herself on the set despite injuries.
“I’ve known her since Australia,” Novakovic said. “She’s always very keen to do things that she’s never done before,” recalling one of their improv performances a year ago based on made-up dating profiles.
When Robbie took the stage at G'Day USA, she reflected on the American dream that she and Harding both strove to achieve.
Growing up, she was taught that Australia is the lucky country and the United States is the land of opportunity.
“I believe in luck, but I believe in making your own luck even more. I also believe that waiting for doors to open or opportunities to come knocking means that you'll probably be waiting a really long time, and you're probably better off going and knocking down those doors yourself," Robbie said. "So as a girl from the lucky country, living in the land of opportunity, I can say with absolute certainty that when you have opportunity collide with luck, incredible things can happen — and receiving this award is one of those incredible things. This whole week for me has been one of those incredible things."
This awards season has also recognized the hard work of Papandrea, whose HBO show Big Little Lies earned four Golden Globes earlier this month. Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby) introduced Papandrea, who also produced Gone Girl and Wild, as “one of the finest producers in the world.”
During her speech, Papandrea told the story of how her mother, at age 14, dropped out of school and later raised four children on her own in government housing. "While coming from very little can seem like a liability to some people, it can also be used as a superpower. It certainly gave me incredible drive,” she said.
Through her company Made Up Stories, Papandrea has become committed to women telling stories.
“They have to be in front of the camera or behind it. It’s that simple. I made that decision about six years ago and haven’t looked back,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
After honoring two of the most successful shows this year, G’Day USA also paid tribute to two film legends: the late Heath Ledger and songwriter and producer John Farrar.
Kim Ledger accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on his son’s behalf, after an unscripted and passionate speech from Farrell about Heath Ledger’s “magic” as a curious and generous artist.
To conclude the night, Newton-John and John Travolta joined performers onstage to honor Farrar with a nostalgic Grease medley for the musical's 40th anniversary.