Natalie Portman, Russell Simmons and Michael Bloomberg Honored at EMA Awards
Jaden Smith hosted the annual event at Barker Hanger, where stars advocated for environmental and animal rights.
"I'm going green today," said Jaden Smith, who took that concept to another level as host of the Environmental Media Association Awards on Saturday night at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica and dyed his hair to match the emerald-colored carpet.
While other eco-friendly stars — including his sister, Willow Smith, who served as the evening's entertainment — were on hand to show their support for the cause, they couldn't help but reflect on the recent spate of natural disasters at the pre-show cocktail party.
"Oh, yes, I'm prepared. I have my quake-kit bag and all that stuff because we're overdue for the big one," presenter Lance Bass told THR. "Hopefully it won't be tonight," said Jordana Brewster. "My husband is always on location, so as a mom who is alone with my kids — and we live in a canyon — I don't feel prepared at all. I'm very worried," she admitted. Said CNN's Van Jones: "My wife has water stored and tablets so the water won't be poisonous, but it's all back at my house. With my luck I'd be at an event like this and it wouldn't help me at all." Longtime EMA board member Frances Fisher, for one, came prepared for just about anything. "I have earthquake kits in the car and at home, the lights, the food and all that stuff," Fisher said. "The only thing I haven't done is to buy solar-powered batteries, but if there's a nuclear war, we'll all be toast because there won't even be sun."
Nuclear war and catastrophic natural disasters aside, the evening's big winners were determined to push the progress of environmental awareness. Netflix, for example, had good reason to celebrate as the streaming giant was awarded not only for the movie Okja but also for a smog-filled episode of The Crown.
"There is a lot to be depressed about, but you know, the people here tonight give me hope," said An Inconvenient Sequel co-director Jon Shenk, whose film won for best documentary. "Look what celebs like Natalie Portman and Al Gore are doing. That is truly what allows us to get out of bed every morning and live to fight another day," Shenk said.
Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Michael Bloomberg shared some indisputable good news — we're already halfway to achieving our carbon emissions goal — via a taped acceptance speech. "Let me be clear," Bloomberg boasted. "We can and will fulfill our end of the Paris Agreement if all of us work together — and there isn't anything Washington can do to stop us."
Missions in Music Award winner Russell Simmons shared his passion for a plant-based diet with THR: "I've been a longtime animal rights activist and as environmentalists, we have to recognize the effect of the animals," Simmons said. "It's critical that we do because some would argue that the No. 1 cause of global warming is the food."
The night's final honoree — Ongoing Commitment Award recipient Natalie Portman — could not agree more. In fact, the Oscar-winning vegan recently produced a documentary titled Eating Animals, which examines the problematic factory farming system in the US.
"You never forget your first time, and my first time at the EMA Awards was seven years ago when I was presenting an award to my friend Jeff Skoll," Portman said from the stage. "What struck me that night long ago, when we all were almost exactly seven years younger, was the sense that the entire room had a true commitment to perhaps the most important cause in the world — namely, our world." Portman ended her acceptance speech by asking the crowd to join her in making a hopeful promise: "May all of us tonight commit to doing whatever we can to ensure our planet and our children, have the chance to enjoy the kind of future that is truly ongoing."