One never knows quite what to expect when interviewing an award-winning actor or actress. Such was the case when Society for the Performing Arts invited me to not only emcee the annual fall luncheon but also to interview actress Laura Dern.
What I and the 300-plus guests in the grand lobby of the Hobby Center learned was that Dern is an intelligent, thoughtful and gentle soul willing to share her story as it relates to the world today and in particular to a woman's place in the male-dominated Hollywood arena. The single mother of two talked also about her own childhood as the daughter of Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern and the challenges of raising children in today's paparazzi-ridden world.
Dern has received three Golden Globe awards and was nominated last year as the Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress for her role in Wild. She is still riding high on the success of her HBO series Enlightened, for which she was co-creator and executive producer. And she has two movies in the works.
Luncheon chairs Julie Oliver, Angie Holloway, Karen Turner-Smith, Kimberly Miller and Amy Miller helped raise $150,000 for SPA educational outreach programs. SPA's Jordan Drum spoke on the importance of SPA's school programs, bringing children to the theater who had never even been downtown before.
SPA board chair Melanie Gray and SPA CEO and president June Christensen headed the program that included presentation of the Ann Sakowitz Performing Arts Advocate Award. That honor went to Nancy and Chuck Davidson.
Among those applauding the Davidsons and Dern were Liz Glanville, Bruce Padilla, Christie Sullivan, Jill Faucetta, Robin Klaes, C.C. and Duke Ensell, Gina Bhatia, Mary D'Andrea, Keith Lepley, Terri DiRaddo and Melissa McCaffery.