Even before the first Hunger Games was released in 2012, Jennifer Lawrence knew she was set for stardom.
During The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Power 100 Women in Entertainment breakfast on Wednesday, former Paramount Studios CEO Sherry Lansing presented Lawrence with the award named in her honor — but first, she recalled their first encounter.
“I first met Jennifer over five years ago, and it was at a small dinner party at [studio executive] Michael Burns’ house,” Lansing said. “There were about 12 people there and Michael came over to me and he asked me if I could sit next to Jennifer. He told me he was worried about her. Michael told me that Hunger Games was about to come out and he believed that it was going to be a hugely successful film and he said that Jennifer had absolutely no idea how her life was going to change.”
“As I watched her interact with the other guests, I saw a highly confident woman and I really didn’t think she needed any advice from anyone,” Lansing continued. “But then, Jennifer did something quite remarkable. She turned to me and she said, ‘I know Michael is worried about me, and I know he wanted you to talk to me but please don’t worry about me.'”
According to Lansing, Lawrence then told her: “I have a secret. I always knew I was going to be famous, so I am totally prepared for it.” (During this revelation, Lawrence looked on from the audience and jokingly made a face of embarrassment.)
“In that simple, direct honesty I actually knew everything I needed to know about Jennifer,” Lansing added. “I knew she was a very, very special person and I knew she was going to be more than fine.”
After accepting the award, which is given annually to a woman who have been a pioneer and philanthropic leader in her industry, Lawrence highlighted the importance of the women who have spoken out against injustice and sexual assault.
“I want to recognize all of the women who stood up to adversity for themselves, and for the good of others with profound dignity, perseverance and strength,” Lawrence said. “It’s not easy to speak out. It’s not easy to face criticism on a global scale. But the fact is I have been given a platform, and I feel that if I don’t use it, then I don’t deserve it.”
Lawrence also couldn’t help but fangirl over Gal Gadot, who made a surprise appearance at the event to award one student with the first ever Warner Bros. funded Wonder Woman scholarship.
“She came up to me at an awards show, and I just went [gasp],” Lawrence said. “She was so gorgeous. I didn’t recognize her. I was like who is – what is that?”
Justin Timberlake was on hand to present $1 million in college scholarships to girls from underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, was happy to be the “arm candy” in the room.
“Angelina [Jolie] warned me that I was basically only here to be objectified so that’s absolutely fair,” Timberlake joked. “I was raised by a strong woman, I was lucky enough to convince a strong woman [Jessica Biel] to marry me and she got nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award today. I will be her b—- anytime.”
In the presence of some of Hollywood’s most powerful women and hearing the students’ inspiring stories, Timberlake, who has a son with Biehl, Silas, 2, admitted, “Oh my God, I’ve got to have a daughter. I’m ruined after today.”
Angelina Jolie, the keynote speaker of the event, which was sponsored by FIJI water, recognized that despite the progress that has been made for women in the industry, there is still “so much we have to change.”
“We have a level of freedom that is unimaginable for millions of other women around the world” Jolie said. “We have the right to think thoroughly and to speak freely and to put forward our ideas on equal terms. There are women across the world who face serious danger and get hurt just trying to have a voice. So it’s hard to celebrate our progress while this is still the case, but it means that asserting ourselves as female artists represents something really, really important in the world today.”