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Billy Porter, Billie Eilish Offer Advice to Young Creators at HFPA Philanthropy Event: 'Honor Your Craft'

Billy Porter
Getty Images for Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Billy Porter speaks during The Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosted annual grants presentation, "HFPA Philanthropy: Empowering the Next Generation" on Oct. 13, 2020.

Anna Kendrick, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eddie Redmayne, Nicole Kidman and Salma Hayek also appeared at "Empowering the Next Generation," which gave grants to over 70 nonprofits focused on cultivating young artists.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosted its online "Empowering the Next Generation" event on Tuesday (Oct. 13), highlighting 2020 grantees and announcing more than $5.1 million to over 70 nonprofit organizations that nurture the next generation of artists, filmmakers and storytellers.

The Late Late Show host James Corden hosted the grant recipient celebration and was joined virtually by a slate of celebrities who spotlighted key grant recipients, including Anna Kendrick, Billie Eilish, Eddie Redmayne, Nicole Kidman and Salma Hayek.

The show first kicked off with a cover of The Kiki Dee Band's "I've Got the Music in Me" by the cast of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, including Jane Levy, Alex Newell, Mary Steenburgen and Peter Gallagher. "It's got to be nice to get off all those pesky work Zooms and finally enjoy a nice recreational Zoom," host Corden said at the start of his monologue after the musical open. "Welcome to the 2020 HFPA grant show, a show that could be ruined at any moment by a sudden glitch in the Wifi."

Corden continued, "This event is all about giving back to the community while supporting young creatives, so we're all doing something to feel really good while also feeling really old." He later said the show reminded him of when he was a young creative, which was, he joked, "2017."

Stars that appeared on the telecast subsequently alternately spotlighted organizations receiving grants and scholarships, recalled their starts as creatives and offered advice to young creators. (Organizations that were honored throughout the evening included Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), Get Lit, Echo Park Film Center, Kids In the Spotlight, UCLA Film Young Directors, Outfest LA, Inner-City Arts, A Place Called Home, Las Fotos, Tomorrow Filmmaking Today and California State Summer School for the Arts.)

Lin-Manuel Miranda advised young creators, "Give us more to see and give us what you think is missing." He said he wrote his musical In the Heights because he didn't see a way forward for himself as a Latino creator.  "Create that for us; create the worlds we haven't seen yet."

Zachary Quinto added, "Separate your self-worth and your value from your work-related successes and failures because in a long career you're going to have plenty of both." Billy Porter added, "First and foremost, honor your craft. Learn what you're doing." Danielle MacDonald said, "Find your inner voice and tell that story."

Stars who shared their stories of beginning in the arts included Daisy Edgar-Jones, Paul Mescal, Riz Ahmed, Regina King, Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom, Jason Sudeikis, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ethan Hawke, Aubrey Plaza, Christian Slater and Rita Moreno.

Mescal recalled believing he was going to be a soccer star, only to break his jaw, which ended his athletic aspirations; Abdul-Mateen II said he first remembered being creative while putting together a puzzle "and I thought I was making art." Ahmed recalled "making my own kung fu film" after watching Bruce Lee's film Enter the Dragon, while Regina King remembered reciting Shel Silverstein poems with her sister.

Performances of the night included the number from the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist castJennifer Hudson singing "Burden Down" and students of Debbie Allen Dance Academy (a grant recipient) performing a number. The grand finale musical number featured students from all HFPA Grantee schools performing a cover of "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman.

During the program, Tracee Ellis Ross introduced a new Social Justice Grant with an inaugural donation of $300,000 going to the Urban Peace Institute, a community safety, just policing, and systems reform organization aimed at ending violence and mass incarceration. The grant was presented to civil rights leader and UPI founder Connie Rice. "Her work is about community, building trust and systemic change," Ross said of Rice. "Thank you for the work that you do and have been doing for so long. We are grateful."

Rice said in her acceptance speech, "Thank you for supporting peace where there has never been any."

George Clooney was the last star appearance of the broadcast, reporting on the HFPA's efforts to fund journalistic organizations. "It's been fantastic to see and hear the work of these amazing students. They really are the future," he said.

Watch the full event below.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

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