Honorees Speak of the Need to Fight for Education, Nutrition

By Friedlander, Whitney | Variety, October 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

Honorees Speak of the Need to Fight for Education, Nutrition


Friedlander, Whitney, Variety


ariety's annual Power of Women honorées got personal about their charitable projects at the luncheon celebrating their efforts on Oct. 10 at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.

"How to Get Away With Murder" star Viola Davis shared her emotional journey of growing up in poverty and how she is using that experience to educate the public about hungry children in the U.S. through the Hunger Is initiative. "Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also filled with abject poverty; I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where their next meal was coming from," said Davis, adding that she "sacrificed a childhood for food, and grew up in immense shame." Speaking out now allows her to use her celebrity to put a face on the problem, she said.

"Wild" star Reese Witherspoon spoke of how her daughter, Ava, informed her about Pakistani female-education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, prompting the actress to promote the Malala Fund, which helps girls further their schooling.

"I think it's very important to point out that Malala is not just some very beautiful, sweet little girl," Witherspoon said. "She is a fierce young woman who has the courage to stand up to even world leaders.

"When she met President Obama, she looked him in the eye and confronted him on his foreign policy in the Middle East," she continued. "When I met President Obama, I shook his hand and said, 'Hey, it's really nice to meet you.' Her courage and her vision is a true inspiration. She is my role model."

Jennifer Lopez talked about why she and sister Lynda started the Lopez Family Foundation, dedicated to improving the health and well-being of women and children. "We wanted to provide every mother and child with the health care education that we all deserve," Lopez said.

Fellow honorées included Jane Fonda, representing Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential; and Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley, global ambassador for mentorship program Vital Voices. …

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