Chelsea Clinton stayed away from politics and stuck to the subject of childhood obesity Friday at a Variety magazine event honoring prominent women and their charity work — except for her last line.
Responding to a pointed quip hours earlier from emcee Vanessa Bayer, a “Saturday Night Live” cast member, that none of the honorees’ mothers was president of the United States, Clinton reminded her that maybe not, “but someday, someone’s (mother) will be.” The line got one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon.
Honored at the Variety Power of Women: New York awards along with Clinton, who spoke of her work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, were actresses Blake Lively, Jessica Chastain and Audra McDonald, TV personality Gayle King and businesswomen Tina Knowles-Lawson and Shari Redstone.
There were a number of references to Bill O’Reilly and his firing by Fox News Channel after several sexual-harassment allegations, which he denies. Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox anchor whose sexual-harassment lawsuit against then-Fox chairman Roger Ailes triggered his downfall and set the stage for O’Reilly’s, received a huge ovation at the start of the event and a thank you from Lena Dunham at the podium.
“When you work in a corporate infrastructure the challenge of coming out about sexual harassment is so massive,” said Dunham, who was introducing Chastain. “And to see a woman who surmounted that and bravely made space for other women to do the same is just deeply inspiring.”
Chastain also referred to the Fox developments, saying that pressure from women’s rights groups, which led advertisers to pull out of O’Reilly’s top-rated show, was a demonstration of “our collective power in action.”
Lively spoke passionately about the scourge of child pornography and the work of the Child Rescue Coalition. McDonald spoke about youth homelessness and her connection to Covenant House, which provides shelter and care to the homeless.
Chastain spoke about the importance of Planned Parenthood to her as she was growing up the daughter of a single mother in a low-income household. King talked about Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, which provides academic help to students from underserved communities.
Knowles-Lawson, whose daughter Beyonce appeared in a taped tribute to her, received the Community Commerce Impact award. She spoke about a theater center for young people, Where Art Can Occur, which she is opening with her husband, Richard Lawson. And Redstone spoke about the Legal Services Corp., which provides legal aid for low-income Americans.
Clinton said nothing about a possible future in politics, but King brought it up anyway.
“I’ll resist the urge to say Chelsea 2024,” King said at the podium. “I won’t say it.”