Writers and actors walking the red carpet at the Academy Women’s Luncheon, presented by Chanel, in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning were able to talk about their projects for the first time in months following news that SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood studios and streamers to end their historic strike the night before.
“We stood strong and fought the battle for 118 days,” said actress and comedian Sherry Cola The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m very happy that I and my fellow artists can now celebrate our projects and continue doing the work we love. I am very grateful to now be part of this industry and continue to represent and tell these stories.”
Screenwriter and director Patty Jenkins was talking to her agent when she heard the news. “We were discussing materials that we hadn’t had a chance to finish yet, and suddenly they became much more real,” she said THRadding that she had been waiting to start work on an upcoming film Star Wars script as a gesture of solidarity with actors. “I heard about things, but when you can actually go into production with something, that changes things.”
Other celebrities in attendance at the Chanel-presented event included Kristen Stewart, Eva Longoria, Lupita Nyong’o, Riley Keough, Rita Wilson, Lily-Rose Depp, HER, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Molly Gordon and Ashley Park.
In her welcome statement, Academy President Janet Yang called the occasion a true celebration and noted how good it felt to be able to say Annette Bening’s name in the same sentence as her film. Nyadreleased last month, when she welcomed the former governor of the Academy Actors Branch to present this year’s recipient of the US Gold Fellowship for Women, Erica Eng.
“The energy in this room is electric,” Yang said. “We are all eager to get back to work, and we at the Academy are extremely pleased that our industry is united again.”
Bening called SAG-AFTRA’s success “extraordinary” as she took the stage to perform Eng. “It is crucial that we continue to support each other,” she says. “That’s why programs like the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women are so important. Because our sector continues to thrive by nurturing the next generation of talent. By elevating new voices and ideas, our collective efforts can move forward.”
The US Gold Fellowship for Women is a one-year program that provides mentorship, support and exclusive networking opportunities to emerging female filmmakers. Each year the Academy awards two scholarships, one in the US and one internationally, each with a prize of $35,000. This year’s international fellow is July Jung.
Actress America Ferrera, who was honored THR‘s first Latin Power event on Wednesday in Miami delivered the keynote speech over lunch, taking a moment to talk about the concept of community within the entertainment industry.
“Fraternity is community,” Ferrera began, “and we have all decided to invest in community just by being here today. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers dreamed of these types of rooms. Women from different backgrounds telling stories and celebrating each other, even as we stand together to demand more space, more resources, and more opportunities. Community is not something we can or should take for granted. And I would like us to remember that growing and strengthening this community can be the key to moving this industry forward.”
Echoing that sentiment, director Gina Prince-Bythewood shared THR that the end of the strike means an opportunity for all members of Hollywood to find a more unified way to move forward.
“There have been so many attempts to divide us and pit us against each other, but this time it didn’t work,” she said. “I’m on the board of the DGA, I know how intentional we are in connecting with the WGA to make sure that on the next contract we can really work together and also fix things where there shouldn’t be as much antagonism.”
“We need each other so much, even directors,” she added. “I really want to break that and there is a large group of us who have the intention to do that.”