"I love the smell of estrogen in the morning."
That's how Katie Couric opened her keynote address Tuesday at the Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 Women in Entertainment breakfast, an annual event that brings together some of the entertainment industry's most powerful female executives and shot-callers.
Halle Berry presented Mirren with the award in recognition of her personal and professional integrity, lauding her fellow Oscar winner as "a giant talent" and someone who has "conducted her whole life with such grace and dignity."
Mirren said that though her parents were old school — her mom "was convinced that she would personally walk on the moon before there would be a female prime minister" — they raised her to strive for economic independence in whatever career she chose.
Mirren has worked steadily since launching her career in the late 1960s, and Berry said the 65-year-old actress is single-handedly breaking down age barriers in Hollywood "because you can age, you can do films that are successful and you can still be hot as hell."
Mirren said that while she resents "having witnessed in my life the survival of some very mediocre male actors and the professional demise of some very brilliant female ones," she refused to complain about the dearth of roles for women over 50.
Hollywood "continues to worship at the altar of the 18- to 25-year-old male, and his penis," she said.
Instead, Mirren said she's concerned with "the presence and perception of women in life, on our public stages, in politics, and law, commerce, science, engineering."
"This is what changes roles on screen," she said.
Couric, meanwhile, talked about the inspiration she has found around the world through her reporting assignments and within her own family through her parents and siblings.
She spoke lovingly of her eldest sister, Emily, a politician and cancer advocate who died of cancer in 2001. She applauded film producer Laura Ziskin, a cancer survivor who created Stand Up to Cancer, a fundraising effort that has generated $180 million for cancer research.
And she celebrated the many executives and power-brokers in the room who were dedicated to mentoring young women and girls. (This week's issue of the Reporter ranks Hollywood's top 100 women, with Disney president Anne Sweeney topping the list.)
Hinting about her upcoming cameo on a certain popular musical TV show, Couric said: "This town fills me with glee, and that's all I'm going to say."
Source: AP News