LOS ANGELES – Where is Kim Kardashian? Why did no one eat the quiche? All were questions on the minds of attendees Wednesday morning at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Gala at the Fairmont Hotel. But the most important question perhaps was: How can the entertainment industry be a more inclusive, equitable place for women and underrepresented communities, and why is it so important?
For Issa Rae, "it just is."
"I'm asked about amplifying underrepresented voices and diversity all the time," the "Insecure" creator and star said as she was honored with the Equity in Entertainment Award. "I usually say something about how we don't often get chances and what a huge difference a chance can make, or I talk about just wanting to actively create space for our stories."
But lately, Rae, 37, feels more of an urgency, a paranoia almost.
"I'm obsessed with the time that I have left and a small window that I have to make the changes that I want to see before I hopefully get old and die," the Emmy-nominated comedian quipped. "Operating from that scared place is actually really helpful because it makes you impatient about waiting for (expletive) to happen and it makes you fearless about the things you normally might be afraid of, like rejection, embarrassment, or diminishment."
"I'm going to keep moving like I don't have many moves left," Rae said.
Longtime friend and former "Insecure" co-star, Yvonne Orji, presented Rae with the award, which recognizes individuals who highlight the voices and stories of underrepresented communities in the entertainment industry.
Orji lauded Rae's loyalty, confidence and unflinching passion to uplift Black voices and stories, and said she felt "seen by her work, I felt understood by her voice and I felt validated by her quirky and slightly ridiculous sense of humor."
Rae's sense of humor was front and center when she shared an anecdote from a trip to Las Vegas her friends planned for an Usher concert. "First of all, I hate Vegas … my love of (Usher) outweighs my hate of Vegas," Rae joked.
On the day of the concert, Rae said her friends bought "weed juice cans," which she drank. "Now mind you, I have a terrible history with edibles – when I take them, I die," she said to uncontrollable laughter from the crowd. Long story short, she died and sank into "this lonely, scary, paranoid, timeless loop."
In that "frightening" state, "all I do is think repeatedly about and replay all the things that I’m most terrified of," she said. "And one of those things is the idea of my mortality and the mortality of those that I love."
Facing her mortality, on edibles or not, has her "feeling like time is running out," she said, and it's what drives her to open more doors in the industry for others.
The trade publication honored 100 women in the industry as trailblazers, including journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who were instrumental in uncovering the decadeslong sexual assault and harassment allegations against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Carey Mulligan, who stars in "She Said," a film chronicling the reporters' work introduced them and said she owed them "an immense debt."
Ahead of the ceremony, A-listers including Margot Robbie, Jamie Lee Curtis (who mingled with Jennifer Grey on the pink carpet), Jurnee Smollett, Heidi Klum, Paris Hilton and more showed out in their best power suits and dazzling gowns for the early morning celebration.
Seth Rogen calls out Kim Kardashian, honors friend Charlize Theron
"These women deserve a better breakfast, I'm just going to say it!" the comedian said to an eruption of laughter as attendees simultaneously looked down at their barely-picked-at food. "We are not eating this quiche!"
Kim Kardashian, who was set to help present scholarships to high school seniors across Los Angeles, was also called out for a last-minute cancellation.
"Are we going to talk about how Kim Kardashian didn't show up?" Rogen said. "All I'll say is this, I have seen every episode of 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians,' I know she's not doing something more important than this. I've seen a hundred thousand of hours of her, she's never done something more important than this."
"Honestly, she's probably dealing with a lot right now," Rogen said backtracking and alluding to the recent scandals surrounding ex-husband Ye's antisemitic tirades and the recent backlash Balenciaga has endured.
Best photos from 2021: Jennifer Aniston, Selma Blair, more honored at THR's Women in Entertainment gala
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Issa Rae on diversity, Usher, edibles and Las Vegas at THR gala