“I have a vagina,” Padma Lakshmi announced, calling female genitalia by as many names as she could muster including the “c” word. The food network impresario was accepting the KARMA award for her work as founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, and revealing years of pain and bleeding with no relief because the condition—and many women suffer it—had not yet been diagnosed. By the time this year’s Variety’s Power of Women M. C.Samantha Bee hit the podium, noting that this jam packed Cipriani Wall Street was Mike Pence’s idea of hell, I had been treated to one Bellini and a hand massage by Z’nea in a pop up spa for SheaMoisture in a corner of the spacious former bank. Feeling no pain, I found out SheaMoisture, a premiere sponsor of this yearly luncheon presented by Lifetime, not only smoothed out every gnarl on my hands, this is a company that sends 10% of its profits to African women.Yes, there were big names featured at this luncheon from Emily Blunt to Tamron Hall, who was awarded the Commerce Impact Award by SheaMoisture, to Tina Fey. With its high-octane focus on promoting reading and education for girls, the safety, nourishment, and education of children, and yes, “me too,” this was no ordinary event. Each speaker was an inspiration for empowering others. U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made opening remarks assuring everyone, time’s up. Viola Davis introduced Tarana Burke who explained how this was the next chapter of the women’s movement, that after the violence of sexual assault, survivors need to be heard and believed and to keep going. Billie Jean King is giving her $100,000, she said tearing up. “If you are ready to help, I have two words for you, ‘me too.’”
Highlights included Emily Mortimer speaking about her friend Emily Blunt’swork with The Malala Fund. Robin Roberts couldn’t resist introducing Alicia Keys: “This girl’s on fire,” but refused to sing it, lauding her work with Keep a Child Alive. Ronan Farrow introduced Margaret Atwood, author of the 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, basis of the hit Hulu series. A champion of theCanadian Women’s Foundation, the Montreal resident invited everyone north, “whenever you feel the need to flee across the border.” The stars of the new Broadway musical “Mean Girls,” Erika Henningsen and Taylor Louderman introduced their “boss,” listing important women like Malala and Hillary Clinton,“These are just a few women who are not as funny as Tina Fey.” Fey noted that many women paved the way for her, and that she refused to be a cappuccino maker, as in, we already have one, or, we had one and it broke.
Everyone, including guests Caroline Hirsch, Christine Vachon, Christine Baranski, John Krasinski, and Avy Kaufman took home gift bags, giant totes containing great stuff: from Banded2gether, BeGlammed, Bombas, Chan Luu, Colorescience, Colorpop, Commodity, Dear Dahlia, Elemis, Erin Condren, fabfitfun, Goop, Gorjana, Honest Beauty, Huda Beauty, JinSOON, Karuna, Katharine Natural Cosmetics, KITSCH, LXMI, Milk & Sass, Rosebud Perfume, S’well, Samba Sol, Sapling Press, SheaMoisture, SkinInc, Smith & Cult, Sol de Janeiro, Spatty, Sunday Riley, The Style Club, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, UMA, Variety, Winky Lux, a Yes To grapefruit mud mask. In addition to embossing leather card cases, KARMA displayed a beautiful white car. A U-Haul would have been nice!