What defines the actions of an innovator?
To Anitta, the Brazillian singer honored for her musical contributions at the WSJ Magazine 2022 Innovator Awards, it’s the freedom of “not being afraid.”
“It’s when you’re not really thinking about other people, and what they’re gonna say if you’re gonna fail or not,” Anitta told Variety on Wednesday night at the Museum of Modern Art. “When you have courage, you just do whatever you feel like doing.”
The 12th annual Innovator Awards honored industry heavyweights such as Margot Robbie, Maya Rudolph and Anitta for their outstanding achievements in their respective fields. Guests were treated with a nutritious three-course meal, an autumn-inspired cocktail menu and a WSJ Magazine tote bag that contained a $1000 Roche Bobois gift card.
Other honorees included Italian fashion designer Anthony Vaccarello, urban architect Jeanne Gang, neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, former Apple chief design officer Jony Ive and World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés.
“Barbie” director Greta Gerwig presented the Entertainment Innovator Award to Robbie, who will star as the titular female icon opposite Ryan Gosling as Ken. Gerwig praised Robbie for maintaining her “work ethic and good cheer” as a producer and actor on the set of “Barbie,” which is set to hit theaters July 21, 2023.
“In the final weeks of prep on the film we made, I watched her run from budget meetings to dialect work to casting sessions to dance rehearsals to wig fittings — and she always had a smile on her face,” Gerwig said. “I never once heard her complain.”
In the decade since her breakout role in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Robbie has produced six feature films through her LuckyChap Entertainment banner. She hinted to Variety before the dinner that she has plans to direct someday.
“It’s not something I’m in a rush to do,” Robbie told Variety. “I love so much that as an actor, I get to see how so many other directors work and how they do it. And it’s so helpful. As far as my love of film, my taste is pretty eclectic, and I think that would correspond to my appetite.”
Robbie named Wes Anderson when asked about the most innovative directors that she’s had the chance to work with. She will star in his next upcoming film, currently dubbed “Asteroid City,” alongside Tom Hanks and Scarlett Johansson.
“Innovative, certainly on a practical level, I love Wes Anderson’s films,” Robbie said. “Once you get to sit on a set and actually see the mechanical side to how he pulls off those worlds and those shots — oh, man, that’s so exciting.”
During her acceptance speech for the Comedy Innovator Award, Rudolph reflected on growing up with two musician parents and the intangible nature of comedy.
“I think [music and comedy] are intangible skills, they’re just inside of you,” she said. “I’ve never been an impressionist, but every time I see someone, I get excited and I think, ‘Oh, I can do that.’”
On the red carpet, Rudolph explained how the confidence she gains from performing comedy can give her the “strength to deal with anything” and why she sees herself as an innovator.
“I guess I’ve always been true to myself and sort of followed my own path,” she said. “I had so many idols growing up and yet I didn’t really have one to choose from. I feel like sometimes that makes you have to create your own things, so I created my own thing.”
When Anitta took the stage to accept her award, she spoke out to her fellow Brazilians who are reeling from the recent presidential election that sparked massive divisions and a series of politically-motivated violent acts.
“When we are fed by anger, when we are fed by hate and by this feeling of not being listened to — we don’t act properly, we don’t act consciously,” she said. “We just act and respond with anger, with hate. It doesn’t matter where this anger and this agency point to. I want to propose to my country that we just look with love to our angers. It doesn’t matter who they’re voting for.”
She concluded, “If we don’t start loving each other, it doesn’t matter who you voted for, we’re going to get to bad, serious moments even worse than we’re having now.”