There was a definite “awwwww” moment last night at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation (formerly The Screen Actors Guild Foundation) Celebration when Leonardo DiCaprio got up to accept the org’s Actors Inspiration Award. “I’d never be able to be doing what I’m doing if not for two reasons,” he began after clearing his throat. “First, even though we didn’t have much of anything growing up, I was born here in Los Angeles, California within arms reach of that holy church known as Hollywood. And second, I was blessed with two incredibly supportive parents…I’m going to take one moment here, because this isn’t nationally televised, to embarrass both of them. They are sitting here tonight, Irmelin and George.” It’s the only time I’ve heard him stumble doing…well…anything.
Other honorees were extremely touched to receive awards from the org, which provides services and assistance for artists. It wasn’t just an awards show; performers sang in between each awardee. Director Lee Daniels was at the center of an extremely poignant moment as he accepted recognition from the group. “I’ve been very blessed because I shouldn’t be here today,” he said. “I’m very blessed that I wasn’t shot growing up. I’m very blessed that I didn’t die of HIV, as many of my friends did. I held them in my arms in the ’80s. And certainly I was destined to do that. That I am not HIV+ is a miracle. I then went on to do drugs, because I thought I should die. I survived two heart attacks. All that stuff is in my work.”
Deserving awards were also given by the foundation to director Rob Marshall and producer Megan Ellison. This may be a town where an award is given every other night, but this celebration had loads of heart (and a good appetite—nice Wolfgang Puck buffet afterwards). Mark Ruffalo agreed. “Wow. What a sweet award ceremony,” he said before DiCaprio picked up the last accolade of the night. “Listening to some of the folks receiving these awards, you wish that was the nature of all the award ceremonies.”