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Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Mary J. Blige and Kumail Nanjiani gather at star-studded Women In Film party

11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Cambria - Inside
Viola Davis at the Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancôme at Crustacean Beverly Hills.
(Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Women In Film)

Viola Davis hadn’t planned to speak at the Women in Film pre-Oscar Cocktail Party on Friday. However, as guests gathered around an improvised stage at Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills, Women in Film President Cathy Schulman invited the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and BAFTA winner to speak, “because she knows where it’s really at.”

“I’m only doing this because I love you, Cathy,” Davis said. Then she quickly proved she knew “where it’s really at,” judging by the response from the actors, filmmakers and entertainment executives in attendance. (More on Davis’ remarks below.)

11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Camb
Greta Gerwig, left, and Women in Film President Cathy Schulman at Women In Film's pre-Oscars cocktail party on Friday. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Women In Film

The event

Women in Film celebrated this year’s 48 female Oscar nominees, up from 46 last year, at the newly renovated Beverly Hills restaurant during an event presented by Max Mara and Lancôme. Emma Stone, last year’s Academy Award winner for lead actress, and Schulman were co-hosts of the Friday cocktail soirée.

As the event offered an opportunity to congratulate the Oscar nominees, Schulman pointed out, “If anybody hasn’t noticed, the nominees around you are wearing beautiful white corsages, and so if there’s [a nominee] standing next to you, just plant a big kiss on her.”

11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Camb
Lea Michele attends Women In Film's pre-Oscars cocktail party presented by Max Mara and Lancôme at Crustacean Beverly Hills on Friday. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Women In Film

The scene

Early in the evening, Davis held court in a cozy booth in the restaurant. And later, “Fifty Shades Freed” star Jamie Dornan made his way upstairs to Crustacean’s second level, while “The Big Sick” star Kumail Nanjiani and wife Emily V. Gordon — the co-writing couple nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay — remained downstairs surrounded by well-wishers. The mass of attendees included plenty of famous faces and industry VIPs.

11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Camb
Billie Jean King, left, and Emma Stone at the Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party at Crustacean Beverly Hills on Friday. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Women In Film
11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Camb
Olivia Wilde, from left, Jason Sudeikis, Molly Shannon and Heather Graham. Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for Women in Film

The crowd

Also on the scene were Margot Robbie, Mary J. Blige, Greta Gerwig, Keegan-Michael Key, Elizabeth Banks, Kathryn Hahn, Lea Michele, Kate Beckinsale, Eiza González, Ali Larter, Camilla Belle, Andie MacDowell, Julianne Hough, Michelle Monaghan, Sharon Lawrence, Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis, Molly Shannon, songwriter Diane Warren and tennis legend Billie Jean King.

11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Camb
Mary J. Blige at Women In Film's pre-Oscars cocktail party on Friday in Beverly Hills. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Women In Film

The quotes

Davis began her remarks with an anecdote about her 5-year-old daughter. “I said, ‘Genesis, you’re very complicated,’ and she said ‘Mommy, take that back. Take that back.’ And I said ‘Genesis, that’s a compliment. That means you’re multifaceted. There’s a lot of different things in you,’ and she said, ‘Mommy, you’re trying to tell me that I’m confusing.’”

Davis went on to explain, “With all of our imperfections, with all of our complexities and confusion, we’re worth it. … This is a year of owning who we are. … We’re all worth it. … That’s what we’re learning this year. … That’s what we need to go into 2018 and ’19 with — that the privilege of a lifetime is being exactly who we are.”

11th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by Max Mara and Lancome with additional support from Crustacean Beverly Hills, Johnnie Walker, Stella Artois and Camb
Viola Davis at Women In Film's pre-Oscars cocktail party presented by Max Mara and Lancôme at Crustacean Beverly Hills on Friday. Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Women In Film

On stepping up to the microphone, Stone said, “No one should ever have to follow Viola Davis. Ever. And that was off the cuff.” She then described the year as historic, exciting and “very jarring at times,” but she added, “I’m so inspired by the voices I’ve gotten to listen to and the things I’ve learned — even the past couple of months, much less over the past year, that’s been happening in our world and in our industry.”

Having played Billie Jean King in “Battle of the Sexes,” Stone then called the tennis legend to the stage. King said, “Viola, you’re right. Women are taught to be perfect, and boys and men are taught to be brave.”

Tuning to the audience, King continued, “So, women, stop apologizing. … No one’s perfect. And no one’s brave all the time. And to the men, you don’t have to be brave all the time. Loosen up, cry, do whatever you want — like Roger Federer; he sobs whether he wins or loses. It doesn’t matter.”

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