You can never say no to Barbra, and that’s precisely why some of the entertainment industry’s most powerful women gathered inside L.A.’s Milk Studios on Wednesday for The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment breakfast where legendary singer-songwriter Barbra Streisand received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award for her empowering work in Hollywood.
For the Lifetime-presented event, where the Entertainment Industry Foundation provided scholarships to 20 underserved high school girls, the who’s who of Hollywood girl power hobnobbed on the red carpet. Kris Jenner (below, right) hugged it out with Selma Blair (below, left) who portrays her in FX's upcoming event series, American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson. Niecy Nash caught up with Scream Queens co-star Lea Michele before chatting with once-again long-haired Tyra Banks. Lena Dunham, who delivered a moving speech, also chatted with comedian Kathy Griffin and singer Meghan Trainor.
The intros and speeches ranged from funny to serious. THR’s Chief Creative Officer Janice Min asked next year’s Power 100 candidates to think about their answer to the question: What did you do this year to help women? Sean Penn revealed that Hollywood philosopher Jack Nicholson once told him, “Seaney, women are smarter than men–they don’t play fair.” “This is breakfast? Why does it feel like dinner?” asked Robert Redford while presenting his friend Barbra Streisand with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, while she retorted with, “It was wonderful being married for a while, but our relationship is over,” as the audience laughed at their banter.
“As women on a power list, it is our duty and also our privilege to transfer that power onto marginalized people with stories to tell,” Dunham told the audience. “I'm not advocating for a world where women erase men in the work place, as pleasurable as that may be for me on certain days. I am advocating for all of us here to make it our mission to use our resources and, yes, our power, to turn this around as a team… It's the right thing to do, and it's the only thing to do.”
But overshadowing every presentation was power-publicist Nancy Ryder who, with an emotional letter to the audience which DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg read out loud, had everyone in tears – including the former publicist herself. Ryder, who suffers from ALS, has lost her ability to speak, but not her voice, as she made her heartfelt plea to end ALS and gender inequality in the entertainment industry.
"I'm going to use this platform, since you're now all listening, to make a final request of you. First, donate to ALS. Of course. But then, do something about the woman issue in Hollywood. You are all powerful. This is not rocket science. This is not brain surgery. It's not even like curing ALS. I wish my disease were as easy to fix as this. It doesn't take money, researchers or ice bucket challenges," the letter read. "My problem? Bad. Hollywood's gender problem? Easy."