Ava DuVernay, Melanie Lynskey and Tamron Hall Honored at 2022 Gracie Awards

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Ava Duvernay, Melanie Lynskey and Tamron Hall were among the honorees at The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation’s 47th Annual Gracie Awards on Tuesday night.

Holly Robinson Peete hosted the event, which was held in-person for the first time in two years at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. Named after the late vaudeville performer Gracie Allen, the Gracie Awards honor talented women in television, radio and digital media.

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The atmosphere inside this year’s gala was subdued, as facts were still emerging just hours after a mass elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Lynskey, who accepted the award for best actress in a leading role — drama, began her speech by thanking the Alliance for recognizing her work in the Showtime series “Yellowjackets.”

“It’s amazing to be 45 and a size 12, according to this dress, and playing the sexiest, most interesting, most fun character of my career,” Lynskey said.

Lynskey went on to express her sorrow over the shooting in Texas as well as the mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., which had occurred 10 days earlier. She said, “It feels very weird to be celebrating tonight when such an awful thing happened today in Texas. And I just have to acknowledge it because it just feels weird, as happy as I am in this moment, there’s so much tragedy around us and my heart goes out to those families and my heart goes out to the family of loved ones from last week’s horrible shooting.”

She added, “My wish, I guess, is that it just stops happening. So just sending love to people and thank you for this. I don’t want to bring it down, but my heart is somewhere else right now.”

DuVernay, who accepted the best family series award for her Peacock reality show “Home Sweet Home,” also referred to the deadly school shooting in her acceptance speech, as well as other tragedies including George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin and the war in Ukraine.

“It is so important to tell these stories because the stories that we tell each other matter,” DuVernay said. “If we can tell stories that allow us to see each other in the ways that we truly are in the most intimate spaces, maybe we would safeguard so that there were not be shootings, mass shootings, shootings by police.”

She continued, “Maybe we would safeguard each other so that we were not kneeling on people’s necks. Maybe we would safeguard each other so that we aren’t going to war in multiple countries at one time. If we can just see each other, understand each other, have empathy for each other, that’s what storytelling does.”

During her acceptance speech for best on-air talent, two-time Gracie Award winner Tamron Hall praised Kimberly Godwin, who became the first Black woman to lead a major broadcast news network when she was named president of ABC News in 2021.

She said, “I can tell you because I have been called the first in many categories, you revel in it but you don’t want to be it. You want to open that door for a floodgate of others. It’s no fun being the only. And Kim, you have provided an opportunity for so many of us to say we are not alone, we are many. We are an army of women representing other women of all backgrounds.”

Hall concluded her speech by sharing her condolences for the families affected by the shooting in Texas. She noted that she became a mother for the first time at 48 and would be able to say goodnight to her son, Moses, in a few hours.

“You don’t have to be a parent to understand the pain, “Hall said. “You don’t have to be a mom to understand the loss. But you have to be a human to open your eyes and to see that none of us should rest easy tonight because too many tonight won’t be able to say goodnight.”

Though the mood inside the ballroom was often somber, uplifting moments of the evening included Pose co-creator Our Lady J’s acceptance of the grand award for best drama and Christina Perri’s performance of her hit song “A Thousand Years.”

CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward was recognized as best podcast host for her audio series “Tug of War”. Ward sent in an acceptance speech that she had taped from Ukraine, where she is currently reporting on the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

The Gracie Awards also honored Melissa McCarthy, Kelly Clarkson, Elle Fanning, Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, Kaitlyn Dever, Ellen K, Angie Martinez and Dana Cortez, among others.

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