BEVERLY HILLS — Amy Poehler and Charlize Theron were moved to tears Friday, and it wasn’t for a role.
The actresses got emotional while being recognized for their philanthropic efforts at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon. Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Hudson and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal were also honored at the fifth annual event, hosted by Aisha Tyler at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Poehler cried while discussing Worldwide Orphans’ outreach to needy children.
“There are so many children in the world who have nothing,” she said. “Who are we to be in this room and be living this life without helping them?”
She recently raised money for the organization with her and Jon Hamm’s post-Emmys Losers Lounge party, where Emmy winners were asked to make donations to gain entry. She has also traveled to Haiti to help orphans.
Theron shed tears while thanking her mother for “teaching me through your actions to be a strong and powerful woman.”
The actress brought her mom to the event, where she was being honored for her efforts to end HIV and AIDS through the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach project.
Hudson almost cried while being recognized for her work with the Julian D. King Gift Foundation, which she established in the name of her slain nephew. But she left the stage before any tears fell.
The industry trade paper Variety, which now boasts its first female publisher and editor in chief, established the Power of Women luncheon to acknowledge the worldwide impact Hollywood women make through their charitable efforts. Each of the honorees’ charities was represented at the event with a booth highlighting its accomplishments.
Banks works with the American Heart Association to promote awareness of heart disease among women. Kidman is an ambassador for U.N. Women, which aims to end discrimination and violence against women worldwide. Pascal supports the suicide hotline Teen Line, and Washington is a four-year member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which promotes arts curricula nationwide.
“So often in this town, we’re celebrated for how we look and how we dress and our style, and all of that is really cool,” Washington said. “But it’s so wonderful to be here to celebrate women in this business for what we do, not just how we look.”
Jessica Alba, a guest at the luncheon, said working with her natural-products firm The Honest Co. is often more rewarding than acting. The company, established in 2011, makes environmentally-friendly home and skincare products and shares its proceeds with needy communities.
“Entertainment is so fun and I love doing it, but this really feels like I’m doing my little part to make the world a better place,” Alba said. “If you’re blessed with a platform and access to pop culture and media, and you have the heart, being able to raise awareness for things that you care about is amazing.”
Poehler offered another reason to help others through philanthropy.
“Giving to charity is good for your skin,” she said, “and it makes your (butt) smaller.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .