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Donna Langley Accepts Kering Women in Motion Award at Cannes

Donna Langley Accepts Kering Women in Motion Award at Cannes

On Sunday night, May 19, under a starry Cannes night, Kering held their Women In Motion dinner bestowing NBCUniversal Studios Group chairman and chief content officer Dame Donna Langley with the Women In Motion Award, and Malaysian director Amanda Nell Eu was presented the Young Talent Award. Langley is the first British woman to run a major Hollywood studio, and Kering awarded these women for their ability to expand opportunities and networks for women and people of color in the film industry.

Held at Place de la Castre in Cannes, the event drew celebrities who attended in the name of women making breakthroughs in film. Notable names in attendance were Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Michelle Yeoh, Lily Gladstone, Zoe Saldaña, Eva Green, Judith Godrèche and directors Greta Gerwig and Justine Triet.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter before the dinner, actress and producer Salma Hayek, wife of Kering’s chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault, shared: “Donna Langley is an affirmation that it is possible, she’s also an example and an inspiration of somebody who is an incredibly smart and a savvy businesswoman that conducts herself with elegance — and she understands artists really well. Her sensitivity expands not just in the everyday business. She’s also done a lot for diversity and supporting other women.” 

Following a cocktail hour that was followed by an opening speech from Pinault, Iris Knobloch, president of the Festival de Cannes spoke on how women like Gerwig broke the box office last summer, and Thierry Frémaux, director of the Festival de Cannes, also spoke on women’s accomplishments in film. 

Amanda Nell Eu (left) and Donna Langley pose with Women in Motion 2024 Award during the Kering And Cannes Film Festival Official Dinner on May 19, 2024 in Cannes, France.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Kering

President of the Jury Greta Gerwig attends the 2024 Kering Women In Motion Awards and Cannes Film Festival Presidential Dinner at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Place de la Castre on May 19, 2024 in Cannes, France.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

A tribute video of actors — from Yeoh and Tom Cruise to Wicked‘s Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, all of whom have worked with Langley — was played. Dr. Death star Édgar Ramírez, told THR of the evening, “Tonight, is a recognition of women’s contribution to expand, to prove, and to change our industry. This isn’t something new, though it is nice to recognize it now, but women have been pushing our industry forward since the very beginning of our industry … So, what is great is to celebrate them, for them to have fun, and for them to be celebrated and applauded.”

As she took the stage, Langley — who also spoke the previous day about the challenges of the film business and talked about the upcoming Wicked film adaptation — gave recognition to a friend who was in the audience who inspired her to move to the U.S., as well as to her husband. Evoking a laugh from the audience, Langley shared that she first came to Cannes as a junior executive with the film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. “I’m an executive. In many ways I’m the killer of art in my pursuit. It means a lot to me that you chose me to be a recipient of tonight. It did make me think about why am I here. The younger me would definitely not have thought that I would make it to this stage,” said Langley.

Zoe Saldaña attends the 2024 Kering Women In Motion Awards and Cannes Film Festival Presidential Dinner at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Place de la Castre on May 19, 2024 in Cannes, France.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

In 2020 Queen Elizabeth II awarded Langley a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE). Before NBCUniversal, Langley was a production executive at New Line Cinema.

Michelle Yeoh attends the 2024 Kering Women In Motion Awards and Cannes Film Festival Presidential Dinner at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Place de la Castre on May 19, 2024 in Cannes, France.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Outside of NBC Universal, Langley sits on the board of Vital Voices, a Washington, DC-based organization co-founded by Hillary Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. And, she is one of the founders of The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Film Mentorship program. She’s also on the board of the American Film Institute, the Motion Picture Association, and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Entertainment Industry Council.

Jury member Lily Gladstone attends the 2024 Kering Women In Motion Awards and Cannes Film Festival Presidential Dinner at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Place de la Castre on May 19, 2024 in Cannes, France.

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Recalling the Austin Powers film that brought her to Cannes 25 years ago, Langley noted that she only received it because someone said yes to her going on that trip. “That time has made me think about why I am here tonight in my role as a film and studio executive. What does that really mean? One of the things that really struck me is that in roles like mine and like many of you in the room, we have the power to say yes. That is a great privilege to say yes to things. It’s much easier to say no, and the yesses don’t come very often but when they do come, they are so powerful,” said Langley.

Past recipients of the Women In Motion Award are Jane Fonda, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, Isabelle Huppert, Patty Jenkins, Gong Li, Hayek, Viola Davis, and Yeoh.

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