Glenn Close, Lena Dun­ham use speech to high­light men­tal health


Us­ing her own fam­ily and Robin Wil­liams as an ex­am­ple, a tear­ful Glenn Close urged some of the most pow­er­ful women in en­ter­tain­ment to help so­ci­ety shed its fear of those fight­ing men­tal ill­ness in an emo­tional speech Fri­day at Va­ri­ety’s Power of Women lun­cheon.

Close was among the hon­orees, who also in­cluded Kim Kar­dashian and Whoopi Goldberg.

Close’s speech was a tear-jerker for many in the crowd. She started off with a joke: “As an actress, I’ve ter­ri­fied men, and I’ve cer­tainly ter­ri­fied chil­dren, but I have yet to ter­rify women. Con­trary to the cliche, there’s lit­tle that fright­ens us.”

But she went on to talk about how the specter of men­tal ill­ness scares her most, and the need for greater aware­ness. Her sis­ter has been di­ag­nosed with bipo­lar dis­or­der, her nephew has schizoaf­fec­tive dis­or­der, and she re­called that her mother, who died two months ago, strug­gled with de­pres­sion.

As she fought through

tears, Close said, “Whoopi, I feel Robin here to­day. He would be whis­per­ing in my ear, ‘A cou­ple of jokes would help right now.’”

Wil­liams, Close’s co-star in “The World Ac­cord­ing to Garp,” com­mit­ted sui­cide last year. Ref­er­enc­ing Wil­liams and oth­ers who have killed them­selves, Close said: “We have lost so many.” She urged sup­port of the men­tally ill through her char­ity, Bring Change2Mind.

Lena Dun­ham, who also was hon­ored, talked about her ex­pe­ri­ence as a rape sur­vivor and how it led her to sup­port GEMS, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps girls caught in the sex traf­fick­ing trade.

She praised GEMS for cham­pi­oning those girls, and re­called when she too was in a vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tion.

“When I was raped, I felt pow­er­less. I felt my value had been determined by some­one else, some­one who sent me the mes­sage that body was not my own my choices were mean­ing­less,” she said. “It took years to rec­og­nize my per­sonal worth was not tied to my as­sault, that the voices telling me I de­served this were phan­toms, they were liars.”

Kar­dashian choked up as she talked about her late fa­ther, famed at­tor­ney Robert Kar­dashian, who died of can­cer. His death, she said, led her to be­come a sup­porter of the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Los An­ge­les.

Actress Rachel Weisz shared suc­cess sto­ries from the Op­por­tu­nity Net­work, which pro­vides sup­port for un­der­priv­i­leged back­grounds so they can get a col­lege de­gree. Col­bie Smul­ders re­ceived a spe­cial Sam­sung Galaxy Edge Award for her work with the Oceana group (Tr­isha Year­wood, Ava Du­Ver­nay and Emmy Ros­sum got sep­a­rate Bar­bie hon­ors).

Goldberg, who was cited for her sup­port of Fig­ure Skat­ing in Har­lem, brought laugh­ter to the event, not­ing it ran a bit long (three hours) and ad­mit­ting it wasn’t ex­actly her thing.

“We don’t need to talk about it — do it,” she said. “Women are not good at help­ing each other, we talk (stuff) about women like that.

“If you are in power, look around and see what’s miss­ing. Pretty soon, it won’t be about em­pow­er­ing women, it will be about em­pow­er­ing men.”

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