On Thursday night, Variety’s “Power of Women: The Changemakers” Presented by Lifetime spotlighted 11 women who inspire past Power of Women honorees Halle Berry (Jenesse Center), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (UNICEF), Misty Copeland (Misty Copeland Foundation), Laverne Cox (New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project), Idina Menzel (A BroaderWay), Julianne Moore (Everytown for Gun Safety) and Katy Perry (Firework Foundation).
The changemakers featured in this year’s special include Karen Earl for Jenesse Center, Viktoriia Gnap and Yuliia Hudz for UNICEF, Bianca Johnson for the Misty Copeland Foundation, Shay Huffman for New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Torya Beard and Ayodele Casel for A BroaderWay, Shannon Watts and Melody McFadden for Everytown for Gun Safety, and Angela Lerche and Brooklyn Molden for Firework Foundation.
In Poland, Chopra Jonas met with Unbreakable Ukraine CEO and founder Gnap and UNICEF’s Hudz, both of whom lead educational hubs for Ukrainian children — particularly Ukrainian refugees — where they can learn and interact with their peers.
“Yuliia, Viktoriia, the women on the frontlines here in Poland — they are so strong, so tough. They’ve been through emotionally, physically so much, but at the same time, they’re highly nurturing,” Chopra Jonas said. “They are loving, they are hopeful. The strength of women goes beyond survival.”
For Everytown for Gun Safety, Moore honored Watts and McFadden of Moms Demand Action, an organization that initially started as a Facebook group following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children and teens in America,” Moms Demand Action founder Watts explained. “Over 70 women are shot and killed by a current or former intimate partner every single month, and gun violence disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people in this country.”
Cox introduced Huffman, a high school social worker and volunteer at the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.
“Shay went to the Anti-Violence Project as a survivor of intimate partner violence, and emerged empowered and more healed and as an advocate,” Cox said. “She is a blueprint for how all of us can take our pain and turn that into power and service for others.”
For her foundation A BroaderWay, Menzel introduced executive director Beard and Casel, co-director of graduate programs.
“I think one of the greatest impacts of this program is confidence,” Casel said about A BroaderWay. “They really understand what self-advocacy means, what standing in the center of your power means.”
American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Copeland introduced Johnson, a choreographer and teaching artist of the Be Bold dance program under Copeland’s foundation.
“We don’t want anyone to say, anymore, that I was the only one — that I was the only Black person in my class, that I was the only Asian person in my class,” Johnson said. “There’s actually a huge community, and we’re gonna show you who those people are and let those people inspire you.”
In addition to honoring her sister Lerche, Perry also introduced Camp Firework leader-in-training and camper Molden.
“Camp [Firework] helped me express my feelings through words, and I feel like that’s really hard, but it’s a skill I’ve really mastered,” Molden explained. “So it makes me really excited to apply it to real life.”
Berry, who has worked with Jenesse Center for over 20 years, honored longtime friend Earl, the executive director of the domestic violence support program.
“We had to decide that we’re going to embrace the word ‘yes,’ and whatever women and children need, we are going to partner with them to provide,” Earl said.
Variety and Lifetime’s “Power of Women: The Changemakers” special aired in advance of Variety’s Power of Women: Los Angeles event on Sept. 28.