Adele praises influential women after being honored at THR’s Women in Entertainment gala

    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Adele paid homage to the many women — including her mother, grandmother and aunts — who helped shape her world and personality since she was a child.

    The superstar singer then praised actor Kerry Washington and found herself in awe while in the presence of singer Dua Lipa after she received the prestigious Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment breakfast gala Thursday. She was handed the award by Helen Mirren for excelling as a trailblazer and her philanthropy work in Hollywood.

    “You are the absolute epitome of what it is to open doors and more importantly leave them open,” said Adele of Lansing, the first female to head a Hollywood studio. The singer has been a supporter of the LGBTQ and women rights, and associated with an organization that helps provide clean water to countries in need.

    Mirren, an Oscar winner, applauded Adele for her musical prowess. The actor said she felt a “shiver” down her back when she listened to the singer’s debut single “Hometown Glory.”

    “That chill comes just a few times in your life when you realize you are listening to a brilliant and game-changing new artist,” Mirren said of Adele, a 16-time Grammy winner who also has collected an Oscar and Emmy during her lauded career. “I thought, ‘Wow, a goddess walks amongst us.’”

    Adele’s shoot-from-the-hip speech, which involved several F-bombs, drew laughter and applause from the audience. She said the women in her family molded her into the person she is today through their boisterous and strong personas.

    “They are a force to be reckoned with and quite frankly terrifying. But that was because they had to be,” the singer said. “They had to learn the hard way what it is to be a woman. In turn, they hardened. Their character was their armor. But thanks to them, my character is my skin.”

    Previous honorees include Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston and Barbra Streisand.

    In her speech, Adele expressed her gratitude toward Kerry Washington, who was earlier honored with the Equity in Entertainment Award, which recognized her for amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities in the entertainment industry.

    Actor Ariana DeBose, who presented Washington with the award, admired how the “Scandal” actor “squashed the traditional stereotype” of being a Black woman in Hollywood.

    “Every component of the career that (Washington) built, the empire that she has created speaks to equity,” said DeBose, who starred in the “West Side Story.” “How has she done that? By being herself and taking up space.”

    Earlier, Will Ferrell lobbied for Washington to run for president.

    “Please? We’ll pay you,” Ferrell said in jokingly pleas as the audience laughed. “We’ll do a GoFundMe right in this room, and we’ll launch you.”

    After accepting her award, Washington spoke about the importance of creating equity — a term, she says, her 9-year-old daughter recently learned about.

    “We don’t cultivate equity without making space for each other’s truths,” she said. “When stories from all different people and backgrounds are told, and people see their story reflected in our media and culture, that starts to weave a thread where everyone is included. That’s a path to equity.”

    Dua Lipa, Camila Cabello, Billie Lourd and Lily Gladstone presented four full-ride scholarships to Chapman University and Loyola Marymount as part of THR’s Women in Entertainment mentorship program.

    More than $1 million in university scholarships were presented to female high school seniors from under-served communities in Los Angeles. The high schoolers will also be paired with top-level female entertainment executives, lawyers and agents.