As the stars walked the red carpet at the 24th annual Garden Brunch in celebration of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Weekend, Volta Insider host Rachel Greenberg was there to interview Hollywood’s biggest stars as well as DC’s media and political elite. Greenberg spoke with one of the weekend’s biggest stars, Helen Mirren, about the White House Correspondents’ Dinner weekend and her legendary career as an actress.
According to Mirren, the event is “a gathering together of amazing people from all over America, fascinating people from all walks of life.” She also praised the weekend’s festivities for allowing Americans to poke fun at themselves saying, “Americans are wonderful. They take themselves very seriously and so they should, but they’re also very, very good at making fun of themselves.”
Dame Mirren has famously played Queen Elizabeth on both the stage and screen. Greenberg asked her about the challenges of playing such a well-known living person. “You’ve got to pay attention to the truth of the real person,” said Mirren. “You’re not inventing a new character.” When it comes to the Queen herself, Mirren said, “She’s strong in many ways, in other ways not. She’s not strong in the way someone like Hillary Clinton is strong,” while adding that “within her own context and within her own tradition, certainly she has great strength.”
Greenberg then asked about one of Mirren’s most legendary performances, her starring role as Maria Altmann in The Woman in Gold, based on the story of the Gustav Klimt painting and the Supreme Court battle over its ownership. Mirren says she was drawn to the film because “The visual arts are the things that I most respond to, they’re my real pleasure in life.” Mirren also noted that she grew up at the end of World War II and that “it’s important that we keep reminding ourselves of what happened then, and what could therefore happen again.”
This year’s Garden Brunch theme was “Starting up, starting out”, and Greenberg got a chance to ask the stars for their best advice to inspire those to follow their dreams.
Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, gave some frank advice for recent grads entering the workplace. “Never mix alcohol and the workplace. Work twice as hard as you think you need to work, and always make a phone call when you think a text or an email will do, it won’t.”
Ms. Greenberg questioned Senator Amy Klobuchar on her best advice to young people. To Senator Klobuchar, it’s “Always to keep your expectations high.”
Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber, says that when you’re going to try something new, “you have to go to a place that’s not possible. You have to bend reality but don’t break it because reality can be a really tough adversary.”
Comedian Grace Para says don’t wait for someone to make your dreams come true. According to Para, “You’ve got to be completely entrepreneurial and do it yourself.”
Joy Behar, co-host of The View says the best advice she ever got was to simply be bold. “Do what you think is right and speak out.”
Gugu Mbatha-Raw urges everyone who is starting out to be curious about everything, not just your give field. Mbatha-Raw says that “Being open minded and open hearted is a consistent character trait with some inspiring people I’ve worked with.”
Greenberg also talked politics with a number of actors who play powerful Washington leaders such as “Scandal”-star Tony Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant in the ABC show. “The only way that anything gets done is if every person engages on a grassroots level, acts locally, and gets in the habit of service and engagement in our process,” he says.
Michael Kelly, who stars as Chief of Staff to the President on “House of Cards”, noted just how important young people have become to the electoral process and urged young people to “Get active and then vote.”
Bryan Cranston the star of All the Way where he plays President Lyndon Johnson, spoke passionately about the importance of voting. According to Bryan, “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.”
Watch the full report from Volta Insider at this year’s Garden Brunch here.