By Brandi Fowler
Updated Oct 15, 2016 @ 1:15 pm
Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus
Credit: Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

With the discussion of gender inequality on high in Hollywood, it was only fitting that women (and men) come together to celebrate Hollywood’s most philanthropic and inspiring women at Variety’s annual Power of Women Luncheon.

As the star-studded event kicked off at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., Friday afternoon, honorees including Miley Cyrus, Laverne Cox, Scarlett Johansson, Helen Mirren, and more gathered to talk about the charities close to their heart, and why it is important to them to continue to fight for equal rights in the entertainment industry and beyond.

Clad in a black lace Mayle dress and Stuart Weitzman black pumps, Johansson was on hand to accept her award on behalf of her work with Planned Parenthood. She stopped to tell InStyle, “The great thing about coming here today is just being able to give the organization the exposure that is so much needed, and to shed light on the importance of protecting a woman’s right to choose her own future, for herself, for her body, for her family.”

Meanwhile, Cox, whose advocacy for the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs nabbed her an award, told us she was blown away by the honor. “It’s hard to process...I understand that it’s a very big deal that a trans woman is honored among other women, that a trans woman is invited into women’s spaces,” the Orange Is the New Black star, who stunned in a sleek back Prabal Gurung dress, told us. “That is still a big deal in 2016, so this is bigger than me,” she continued, before accepting her award from her Rocky Horror Picture Show costar Victoria Justice, who wore a strapless Bryan Hearns dress and choker to the event. “I hope it begins to change the narrative that we have about who trans people are, who trans women are, so we can be included conversations about women, so that our lives can get better, collectively.”

As the luncheon kicked off, guests like Jenna Dewan Tatum, who showed off her new blunt bangs in a backless white jumpsuit, took their seats at foliage-topped tables, and were surprised with printed cosmetics bags packed with Moroccanoil products placed at each one. While they munched on salads topped with honey roasted pear and blue cheese, host Rachel Bloom, who told us it felt “really surreal” to MC the event, soon walked out to kick off the show clad in a black Kate Spade dress.

After she thanked everyone for attending, guests continued to dine on honey lemon glazed cod and salted caramel-topped chocolate tarts for dessert. Ava Duvernay was the first to accept her award for her work with 1000 Black Girl Books. The famed Selma director hit the stage with an inspiring speech, telling the crowd, “Our work is a mirror. A mirror of what we believe, so what we put onscreen is important...and the way we go about our work is important.”

SPANX Founder Sara Blakely was all smiles as she accepted Variety’s Innovation and Leadership award. Before she took the stage, the mogul, who rocked a black and white Valentino dress to the fete, told us, “I’m the girl that puts things on underneath all these women in the film, but for the film industry to recognize me in this way means so much to me.”

After Rosanna Arquette presented Sir Lucian Grainge with the EmPOWerment Award, Helen Mirren took home her award for her work with SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young, walking on stage with a young man from the organization. “The real power for women in Hollywood actually lies outside of Hollywood, doesn’t it? It lies in the audience,” the Oscar winner said, sporting a black Armani suit and a Roberta Fineman turban. “It lies in those young women, those girls who are our audience, and as they make their way in the world.”

Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman dazzled as she accepted the Moroccanoil Inspiration to Action award from model Jasmine Sanders in a spring 2017 Marchesa Notte floral dress. The fashion designer was recognized for the impact she’s made with her non-profit organization Magic Bus, which helps better the lives of impoverished children in India. “I feel so honored and surprised to be here amongst such extraordinary exemplary women here today, and to be broadly inspired by women’s movements,” she said. “I am so proud of the impact that we’ve made thus far. I feel so privileged, each and every day, and am inspired to connect with young women and girls from Magic Bus by encouraging them to have that same self-assurance I had growing up.” Chapman was recently featured in Moroccanoil’s Inspired By Women campaign, a short-film series that aims to inspire, celebrate and empower women.

VIDEO: 2016 Emmy Awards Red Carpet

Following Chapman’s speech, Robert Downey, Jr. stepped up to the podium to present Johansson with her award, making the crowd burst into laughter before he gushed over his Iron Man 2 costar. “Scarlett is completely unique while remaining somehow accessible,” he said. “She’s one of the boys, but, she’s an essential feminist. She’s the top grossing actress of all time...She’s a working mom. She’s utilized her worldwide disability to educate and mobilize public support for sexual and reproductive rights. She’s a true ambassador for women’s health initiatives.”

As the show came to a close, Miley Cyrus danced her way out on stage in a plunging, retro floral jumper to accept her award for her organization Happy Hippie Foundation, which rallies young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth. “This is an incredible room to be in, and when I first found out that I was receiving this honor, I was overjoyed,” Cyrus, who attended the event with Liam Hemsworth, said. (A rare public appearance together for the couple.) “Not only to share the day with the brazen women here in this room, but feeling just so fortunate for the spotlight that Variety illuminated on a mission of mine and so many others around the globe who share my intention of making the world we live in a more accepting and loving place for all.” As attendees headed out of the event, they not only left with messages of empowerment, but also huge gift bags stuffed with goodies.