Jamie Lee Curtis brought on the laughs and got political as she hosted the star-studded Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual Grants Banquet, where the organization handed out $2.4 million in grants to worthy organizations at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and welcomed A-list guests like Gina Rodriguez and Emma Stone (above).
“If you invite me to a party and you’re going to give away two million dollars, I will show up,” Curtis, who rocked a printed black Dolce & Gabbana suit and silver kitten heels to the event, told InStyle Thursday evening before the banquet began. “The fact that it’s a broad spectrum of grants, it goes from everything from film preservation, to higher education, to a program that helps children with autism become part of the film industry is extraordinary.”
Nate Parker was just one of many stars on hand who echoed Curtis’s sentiments about the HFPA. As the Birth of a Nation star stepped on the blue carpet looking dapper in a gray Ermenegildo Zegna suit, he chatted with us about how the organization has helped him during his career and why he was excited to accept a grant on behalf of the Sundance Institute with mom-to-be Jurnee Smollett.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press is so supportive of artists like me that are coming up, that may or may not have had anything, but that work very hard to excel in the craft,” Parker said. “And then the Sundance Institute, they were the first to support me with a film grant, and they offered me different artists that enrolled in their program. Anywhere they ask me to go, I’m going to go.”
Once the event began, guests dined on tables topped with fresh white flowers and oversize bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne, and munched on tomato-burrata towers with haricots verts topped with basil fennel oil, braised beef short ribs, Chilean sea bass and a trio of mini desserts.
Curtis soon took the stage to welcome everyone to the fête, saying, “This kind of good doing is what makes this country great, is what makes this business great, and what makes the HFPA singular in their generosity, spirit and absolute capacity to love someone bigger than them.” She also encouraged audience members to “get skin in the game” in this year’s election, adding, “we owe this country something and that means whatever party you’re for…do something.”
She was followed by the likes of Justin Timberlake, who accepted a grant on behalf of FilmAid International in a Tom Ford suit, calling the organization’s efforts to bring hope and relief to refugees through media “pretty f**k’in cool.”
Meanwhile, Gina Rodriguez got emotional as she accepted a grant on behalf of a high school in her hometown of Chicago. “I was raised in a predominately Latino neighborhood where the idea of opportunity was limited beyond belief,” the Jane the Virgin star, who stunned in a black, strapless BCBGMAXAZRIA dress said. “I feel very blessed to be standing here in front of all of you knowing that some of the women I grew up with didn’t believe this opportunity existed for them.”
The event even brought out Renée Zellwegger for a rare public appearance, with the actress stepping on stage in a black cocktail dress as she accepted grants on behalf of several organizations that involved children. As Emma Stone followed behind her in a purple Roland Mouret dress with black trim, she told the audience she was “very happy” to see the Jerry Maguire star, before accepting a grant on behalf of the Young Musicians Foundation.
Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Hugh Grant, Joanne Froggatt, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, and Warren Beatty also accepted grants on behalf of worthy organizations, and Beatty reminded everyone that he had returned to his old stomping grounds, telling the crowd he lived in the hotel for “12 years.”