He­len Mir­ren calls on women to change the fu­ture by vot­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - By Sandy Co­hen

BEV­ERLY HILLS >> At a Fri­day event to rec­og­nize phil­an­thropic con­tri­bu­tions by Hol­ly­wood women, He­len Mir­ren said women can “change the land­scape for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions” by vot­ing in the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“It’s time for the best role model in the White House,” Mir­ren said to cheers from the over­whelm­ingly fe­male au­di­ence.

The an­nual Va­ri­ety Power of Women lun­cheon cel­e­brates women’s lead­er­ship in char­i­ta­ble and hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts. Held at the Bev­erly Wil­shire ho­tel, the event also rec­og­nized Mi­ley Cyrus, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Ava DuVer­nay, Lav­erne Cox, fash­ion de­signer Ge­orgina Chap­man and Spanx founder Sara Blakely and the var­i­ous non­prof­its they sup­port.

Mir­ren, who was hon­ored for her work with the Stut­ter­ing As­so­ci­a­tion for the Young, said she used to think such women’s events weren’t nec­es­sary, that women should just “barge their way in” to po­si­tions of power.

“I’ve come to re­al­ize this is a fan­tasy,” she said. “With­out an or­ga­ni­za­tion, with­out a mega­phone to make your voice heard, your voice re­mains fee­ble. It is ig­nored.

“In the next few weeks we will see a real-life ex­am­ple of this,” she con­tin­ued, “as women of all ages and all eco­nomic sit­u­a­tions, all pro­fes­sions, vote.”

Mir­ren wasn’t the only hon­oree to men­tion the up­com­ing elec­tion and women’s role in it. Jo­hans­son, an ad­vo­cate for Planned Par­ent­hood, said re­pro­duc­tive rights should be “taken off the bal­lot.”

“A woman’s right to choose what to do with her body shouldn’t just be a women’s rights is­sue,” she said. “It’s the year 2016, and this is a hu­man rights is­sue.”

DuVer­nay, who works with 1000 Black Girl Books, said it’s im­por­tant to cel­e­brate women, “es­pe­cially in a so­ci­ety, in our cul­ture right now, where at the high­est lev­els of public dis­course there’s been such a degra­da­tion of women.”

The film­maker said she’s in­spired by women’s ris­ing voices against sex­ism and sex­ual as­sault in­spired by re­cent news events.

“There have been women through­out his­tory who have fought, but so of­ten on the mar­gins, so of­ten pushed out and un­heard,” she said. “The fact that this is com­ing to the mid­dle and be­com­ing a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion is a pos­i­tive thing in a re­ally neg­a­tive time.”

Blakely, who pledged in 2013 to do­nate half of her bil­lion-dol­lar for­tune to help women, said, “the world would be a much bet­ter place if the male and fe­male en­ergy on the planet were more bal­anced.”

The Power of Women event rec­og­nized one man: Univer­sal Mu­sic ex­ec­u­tive Lucian Grainge, who has pro­moted nu­mer­ous women to lead­er­ship po­si­tions. He said he was in­spired by his mother.

PHOTO BY JOR­DAN STRAUSS — IN­VI­SION — AP

He­len Mir­ren ar­rives at the 2016 Va­ri­ety Power of Women lun­cheon on Fri­day in Bev­erly Hills.

PHOTO BY JOR­DAN STRAUSS — IN­VI­SION — AP

De­signer Ge­orgina Chap­man ar­rives at the 2016 Va­ri­ety Power of Women lun­cheon on Fri­day in Bev­erly Hills.

PHOTO BY JOR­DAN STRAUSS — IN­VI­SION — AP

Rachel Bloom ar­rives at the 2016 Va­ri­ety Power of Women lun­cheon on Fri­day in Bev­erly Hills.

PHOTO BY JOR­DAN STRAUSS — IN­VI­SION — AP

Lav­erne Cox ar­rives at the 2016 Va­ri­ety Power of Women lun­cheon on Fri­day in Bev­erly Hills.

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