Last week, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation's 4th Annual Patron of the Artists Awards honored industry leaders and artists who are champions for the arts and whose history of fostering creativity and creating opportunities has made a positive impact on the performing arts and the world.
The event took place at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
This year’s benefit recognized entertainment industry leader and showrunner Greg Berlanti and trailblazing director/writer/producer Ava DuVernay with the “Patron of the Artists Awards” which commends their commitment to championing the careers of countless performing artists. Legendary producer/writer Norman Lear presented the award to Berlanti and critically acclaimed actor David Oyelowo presented to DuVernay.
The “Artists Inspiration Awards” were given to performers who use their platform to advance humanitarian and philanthropic causes. Celebrated actor Jennifer Aniston received her award from her “Friends” co-stars Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow. Critically acclaimed actor Mark Ruffalo was presented with his award by inaugural SAG-AFTRA Foundation Artist Inspiration Award recipient Leonardo DiCaprio.
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Annual Patron of the Artists Awards opened with a speech by Hank Azaria. The evening included musical direction by eight-time Grammy and Emmy winner Gregg Field with an opening performance by Cynthia Erivo who sang “Stand Up” from her film “Harriet”; Chrissy Metzwho sang “I’m Standing With You,” an original song from her feature film “Breakthrough”; acclaimed singer Wé McDonald who sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the motion picture “Funny Girl”; and Grammy Award-winning artist Patti Austin who sang “You’ll Have to Swing It” from the film “Rhythm on Stage.”
Other presenters included Awkwafina, Laurence Fishburne, Julia Garner, David Harbour, Paul Rudd, Oliva Wilde, and Constance Wu. Acclaimed actor Willem Dafoe introduced President Emeritus of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, JoBeth Williams, and presented her with a tribute award in honor of her decade of service. JoBeth also announced her successor Courtney B. Vance, who will build on the legacy of the nonprofit’s over 30 years of services to the entertainment community.
Other celebrity guests in attendance included: Angela Bassett, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, Clyde Kusatsu, Sharon Lawrence, Jason Lewis, Camryn Manheim, Esai Morales, Lesley Nicol, Susan Sullivan, Emeraude Toubia, Aonika Thomas, Sean Patrick Thomas, Diane Warren, and Kevin Zegers.
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Patron of the Artists Awards is an annual benefit for the nonprofit’s programs which provide aid to artists facing life-threatening illness or economic hardship, free educational resources and workshops for performers, and free children’s literacy programs worldwide.