I love being out with a small group of close friends, but I am hardly an event person.
You’d never know given the number of events I do show up to… but not compared to the amount of invites that come through. I’m a grandmother when it comes to the Hollywood scene! If I could always be out of the spotlight I would be. I would do my films and TV and be invisible the rest of the time. Of course it doesn’t work that way, much as I want it to. But there are some occasions I look forward to—and last weekend was one of them.
Saturday was WildAid’s annual fundraising gala, “A Night in Africa.” This event is one of my favorites because WildAid is a group I’ve been working with for a decade. A fundraiser may not be your idea of a “wild” Saturday night, but I live to share the story of WildAid’s work and encourage people to give generously. This group is responsible for the ivory ban in China, Hong Kong and beyond. They’ve lowered the Chinese consumption of shark fin by 50 percent and are tackling consumers of rhino horn in Vietnam, which is the largest consumer country of the product. It’s remarkable what can happen when people are encouraged to stop consuming. Life can begin again.
Some things in this world need to be spotlighted. Some people in this world need to be recognized for their contributions to the greater good. I presented the Wildlife Champion award to Fredrico Angermeyer aka Fiddi.
I met Fiddi in the Galápagos Islands on a conservation trip with WildAid. Fiddi is a Galápagos native. One of the honors of my life was seeing the world through Fiddi’s eyes and witnessing WildAid’s conservation efforts in this massive Marine Mammal Protected area.
With sophisticated technology that doesn’t even allow boats into the protected area, Fiddi and WildAid have stopped single seizures of up to 12,000 shark fins. The work is never done, but because of concerted efforts like these during the last 20 years, one of the most important ecosystems in the world is truly protected. Speaking about a man like Fiddi, and advocating for one of the most effective groups in the world, is like plugging my soul into a socket. It gives me actual power to continue to be in the fight for our most precious endangered species.
Sunday night was a little different…
It still took me 2 hours to get ready; I still had to do a red carpet. The difference: I was presenting at the E! People’s Choice Awards and promoting an upcoming film release (Fantasy Island).
One of my co-stars, Lucy Hale, was presenting with me. It was wonderful reconnecting after months together on our film. Lucy was a highlight and so were all the things we laughed at throughout the evening! The night included A-list celebrities, singers, and—of course—the Kardashians. There were tons of screaming fans, lots of fashion, and plenty of eyes darting around the room.
My date was a girlfriend who isn’t in the entertainment business. Although I prefer a quiet Sunday night, seeing my friend’s face light up when she realized some of her favorite stars were right in front of her was priceless. It actually made my night. We ended up taking more photos for her kids—Iron Man was there!—than we did for ourselves. I thought, as I often do, how blessed I am to have a career that gives me a platform.
Without my day job, I would never have the voice to fight for the things I believe in.
Without Sunday, I couldn’t have my Saturday. On that note, I looked around the room packed with celebrities and cameras, internally desperate to get home and into my pajamas, and quietly said… Thank you.