Emma Gonzalez Gives Emotional Speech at Variety’s Power of Women Event

Emma Gonzalez is encouraging women to rise up and vote…

The 18-year-old Cuban American activist and gun reform advocate was among the honorees at Variety’s Power of Women event, an annual event that recognizes some of Hollywood’s most philanthropic women whose efforts have made a significant impact to their chosen charities and causes.

Emma Gonzalez

During her speech, Gonzalez reflected on the myriad of school shootings that have taken place over the past several years. Gonzalez couldn’t hide her raw emotions as she shared her own experiences with the effects of gun violence, before calling upon audience members to use their public platforms to take a stand for gun regulation.

Eight months after surviving the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Gonzalez said she can still feel the pain she experienced that day as if it’s happening right now.

“Nothing made sense in those days except for the fact that there was nothing to stop this from happening to anyone in a country with practically no gun safety laws,” she said.

Soon after, Gonzalez became a representative for the March for Our Lives organization, fighting for gun control legislation across America — a battle that Gonzalez said left her and her friends feeling “as though we are holding the country on our still-developing shoulders.”

Gonzalez also highlighted the presence of gun violence outside of the school environment, pointing to the numerous shootings at nightclubs, concerts, airports, and more. “Gun violence isn’t picky,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez went on to express gratitude that the voices of young people are finally being heard. “Before our voices were scoffed at and talked over. Now I’m an 18-year-old girl who’s here today,” Gonzalez said to claps from the audience. However, she also recognized that the people in the audience had the power to carry their voices further.

Gonzalez listed off the numerous victims of gun violence she met during her 64-day tour across America, including the victims of the Las Vegas and Charlottesville shootings, whose stories brought her to tears as she spoke.

Gonzalez then discussed some of the misconceptions surrounding March for Our Lives, making it clear that the organization is not trying to take away guns, before calling on audience members to use their own platforms to encourage more people to vote.

“Everybody in this room is in a unique position, because you are here, you have proven to hold power,” Gonzalez said. “To each of you powerful women I say this, you know that you are forces to be reckoned with, you can and have inspired peace and understanding and, most importantly, right now you can inspire your audience to vote. Now more than ever women need to continue to rise up.”

Hayek to Be Feted at Variety’s Power of Women Luncheon

Salma Hayek has the power…

The 49-year-old Mexican actress and film producer will be honored at Variety’s Power of Women as a Lifetime Impact Honoree at an October 9 luncheon that celebrates the entertainment industry’s most philanthropic and inspiring women.

Salma Hayek

Hayek will be feted alongside other honorees Anna Kendrick, Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey and Susan Wojcicki at the event, which will be held at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons will celebrate the entertainment industry’s most philanthropic and inspiring women.

“The women we are honoring this year are the perfect embodiment of the Power of Women initiative,” said Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, Variety’s publisher. “We salute Salma Hayek Pinault, Anna Kendrick, Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki for their incredible philanthropic work and their personal commitment to fostering change. We look forward to collaborating once more with our dynamic partner Lifetime who has been a real force alongside Variety in championing the efforts of our esteemed honorees.”

Hayek is being recognized for her humanitarian efforts with Chime for Change.

Variety’s Power of Women event is tied to its annual Women’s Impact Report, which profiles the women making the most significant impact on the entertainment industry. Each of the honorees will be featured on the cover of Variety’s Women’s Impact issue on October 6.

Michele & Longoria Recognized For Their “Impact”

Sweet charity! Mexican American actress Eva Longoria and part-Spanish actor and singer Lea Michele are being recognized as a Lifetime Impact Honorees for their noble philanthropic work at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon in Beverly Hills.

Each year, the industry magazine recognizes women in entertainment who pour themselves into causes greater than themselves to make a difference in the world around them. During the luncheon, 400 Hollywood insiders, A-list talent and special guests come together to celebrate, support and pay tribute to the philanthropic efforts of honorees. The goal: to inspire and encourage women from all walks of life to get involved, give back and make a difference.

“The Desperate Housewives” star is being recognized for her own non-profit organization, Eva’s Heroes, which aims to help special needs teenagers and young adults with special needs to integrate and flourish in society. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Eva’s Heroes provides after-school and summer programs, as well as monthly activities that help cultivate an inclusive atmosphere based on four tenets: interaction, growth, learning and love.

“My older sister, whose name is Elizabeth, has a mental disability, and she’s the oldest of four girls,” says the 36-year-old Longoria. “I was born into her world, so I didn’t know any other world. Growing up in south Texas we saw how many programs Elizabeth benefited from, so it was always a natural fit to give back to the special needs community because the special needs community gave to us.”

So what’s next for Eva’s Heroes?

“We want to go regional, statewide, nationally,” proclaims Longoria. “Every community could use the template that we use; it would be so easy.”

Meanwhile, “Glee” star Lea Michele is being honored for lending her voice to help People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) fight for animal rights, including a recent campaign against horse-drawn carriage rides in New York City.  Michele got involved with PETA five years ago after seeing a presentation on one of supermodel Janice Dickinson’s reality show.

“They showed a video, which was very disturbing, but it opened up my eyes,” recalls the 25-year-old Michele. “Afterward the spokesperson said if you could just take one moment and go look online, and I immediately turned off the television and went onto peta.com.”

Michele left a note saying she was a Broadway actress who wanted to help. She received an email reply by email the next day and has been working with them ever since.

“I’m constantly brainstorming (with PETA) about what we can do,” professes Michele. “I’m so thankful that being in this business and this industry gives you a little power to inform people on these issues.”

Along with Longoria and Michele, this year’s Lifetime Impact Honorees include actress Annette Bening, singer Mary J. Blige, DreamWorks Studios co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider and actress Olivia Wilde.