On Wednesday, actress Diane Keaton was honored with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at the 21st annual “Women in Entertainment Breakfast.”
The event, headed up by The Hollywood Reporter, is put together every year to honor the most powerful–and influential–women in the entertainment industry. In her speech, Keaton offered honors to her mother, and Sherry Lansing.
After warning the crowd that her speech wasn’t going to be funny–which, as it turns out, was not true–the actress admitted that she was very nervous about giving the speech.
“I just wanted my speech to be the most touching, heartfelt, funniest, yet also persuasive, because that’s what a leader is,” Keaton said. “I just knew that my speech had to be way better than Meryl Streep’s speech or Jane Fonda or Helen Mirren.”
In Keaton’s acceptance speech, the 66-year-old actress credited her mother for being her “first and most inspired leader” in a speech that was, according to a report from the Associated Press, equal parts funny, and touching.
“My idea of a leader would be somebody like Sherry Lansing. You know why? Because she has this gift, like so many of you here today do, of organizing large groups of people in order to achieve a common goal,” Keaton said. “And Sherry’s particular brand of leaders , you know, that kind of leader has to be charismatic and intelligent and attractive, but most of all persuasive – and that’s not me.”
Keaton’s mother, Dorothy Hall, died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2008 at the age of 86. During her speech, Keaton spoke directly to her mother, causing not a few tears in the crowd.
“You know, mom, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had told you how much I love the sound of your laughter. Would that have made you feel proud of yourself? Or what if I just told you how proud I was to be the daughter of a really special former Mrs. Los Angeles? Would that have made a difference? Or if I’d, oh god, told you how quickly I ran home to you the day Dave Garland stuck his finger in my padded bra and made me feel humiliated? Would you have finally understood that you were irreplaceable, mom?,” mused Keaton.
“Or what if I just told you how much fun it was for me just to sit across from the kitchen counter and watch you make your midafternoon snack of Wheat Thins with longhorns and dill pickles on the side, would you have felt fulfilled?”