By Brandi Fowler
Updated Oct 21, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
Kerry Washington
Credit: Jason LaVeris/Getty

Kerry Washington just took the fall floral trend to the next level.

Ever the fashionista, the Scandal star hit the GLSEN Respect Awards Friday night in a multi-colored, plunging floral Roberto Cavalli suit paired with a red textured clutch by The Row, and a pop of bright blue eyeshadow applied atop a cat eye.

Washington was on hand to receive the Inspiration Award, telling InStyle it meant “everything” to her to be recognized by the community. “I’ve really made a point to not shy away from characters who are disenfranchised from society in some way, either because of their sexual orientation, or whatever reasons,” she added. “I just firmly believe that we all deserve a seat at the table, and our young people need to know that they matter, no matter who they are. I’m proud to be working with GLSEN because that’s what they stand for.”

Zendaya was also honored at the event with the Game Changer Award, and dazzled in a gold high-collar, sleeveless Calvin Klein top tucked into a metallic pleated skirt. “I’m so lucky to be here,” she told us. “I think it’s an amazing event. I think it’s a place and a space where we protect and support young people and who they are. I think that things like this are needed, especially in the industry. It’s extremely motivating to be honored with people that I look up to and I respect so much.”

Guests at the event mixed and mingled during the cocktail reception, sipping champagne and noshing on mini crab cakes and tuna tartare tacos. Once the show began, they took their seats at tables topped with white roses and feasted on more grub—arugula salad and grilled chicken breast, with vanilla pots de crème for dessert.

Credit: JB Lacroix/Getty

As Zendaya accepted her award, she encouraged other young people to be game-changers too, telling the crowd, “To every student that’s here I just want you to know that I admire you.” She continued, “This award is really for us because we are the game changers. We are the ones who are literally changing the game. We are the future here. Please understand the power of your voice. Please understand you have the capacity to change.”

Meanwhile, Washington brought the house down after she accepted her award from her Scandal costar Tony Goldwyn. Earlier in the night, Goldwyn told us Washington inspired him because of “the combination of her tireless commitment to whatever task she is doing, and her complete humility.” He continued, “She’s inexhaustible. She never complains. She works harder than everybody. And yet, she’s studiously humble. She will never put herself before somebody else.”

Tony Goldwyn
Credit: Jason LaVeris/Getty

“Thank you to my onscreen bae, Tony Goldwyn. I love you,” Washington said with a smile as she accepted her award. The actress also addressed the young people in the room, saying that becoming a mom changed her perspective. “Children are born to us because we need to grow,” she said. “So, basically what I’m saying to the young people here tonight is, don’t get twisted. We don’t raise you. You raise us.”

“You are inspiring all of us to make the changes we need to make in order for the world to be a world that is deserving of your beauty, and your power, and your possibility,” she continued. “The GLSEN research is clear. By creating school environments that embrace clear inclusivity, understanding and acceptance, you not only empower LGBTQ students, you help all students.”

“When you ensure the protection of one, you make space for all,” she added. “You transform your schools into places where everyone belongs, where everyone is free to learn, and where everyone can feel loved. Through your boldness, and your bravery, you are making it so that every young person in America has the chance to love and be loved, whether straight, gay, bi, trans, gender nonconforming, white, Asian, African American, Latino, First Nation, documented, undocumented, Christian, Muslim, Jewish. That is the kind of power that you have, and that is why we are here tonight for you.”