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Octavia Spencer & Viola Davis Reunite For Women In Film


The goal of the soiree? For women to celebrate each other (and hire each other, too). Plus, stars dished on their Oscars gowns.

Together again: the women of The Help rang in another awards season together at a pre-Oscar cocktail party Friday night at Fig & Olive. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis reunited at the soiree for Women in Film, a non-profit organization dedicated to women achieving in the entertainment industry.

Spencer, who co-hosted the event and will present at Sunday's ceremony, said last year's road to Oscar wasn't as stressful as one might think. "You know what, maybe I'm crazy but there was no pressure for me last year," she said. "I never had hope that I would win anything. So just being there and celebrating the entire journey with people that I loved, and my close friends like Melissa McCarthy and Jessica Chastain last year - and getting to celebrate Jessica again this year with her nomination - I'm excited. It's different. It's very different but there was never any pressure. I'm just ready to have a good time again."

Chastain was there, too (with her boyfriend, Gian Luca Passe de Preposulo), although she ran into a snafu en route to the restaurant. She arrived close to the end of the party, "despite an accident on Sunset blocking traffic," explained a post-event press release.

Davis and Chastain will hit the silver screen together again later this year in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and Hers. Davis said their second film together felt as natural as the first. "The thing about all The Help women, it's something unexplainable that happened. We just clicked."

One of the goals of the Women in Film event, said Cathy Schulman, president of both WIF and Mandalay Pictures, was to encourage women to not only celebrate together, but to hire each other, too. According to a study commissioned the organization, in the last 11 years only 41 of 1,100 films have been directed by women. (The study looks at the top 100 films of each year). "It's actually a horrendously terrible statistic," said Schulman, adding that achievements like Kathryn Bigelow's should be the norm, rather than the exception. "That said, we are working as an organization to create a difference in those odds. It's what events like tonight are about."

Inside the party, sponsored by Perrier-Jouët, M.A.C. Cosmetics and MaxMara, guests including David O. Russell, Quvenzhane Wallis, Daniel Radcliffe, Jared Harris, Jenna Elfman, Paz Vega and Kate Walsh mingled, enjoying charcuterie and a selection of cheese and Champagne.

The best advice this crop ever received from their female peers?

"Cicely Tyson told me something really, really important," said Davis. "She told me to embrace my success, because she said 'I know the road. You have to embrace what's been given to you because you worked for it, so therefore you deserve it.' That's a big one for women, to feel like you deserve it," she added.

Spencer's key advice came from Whoopi Goldberg. "The very first movie I ever got to work on I was an intern, and Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey were my idols," she shared. "And I got to work with Whoopi and I remember her saying, 'Whatever happens, you have to remain true to yourself.' And I get that now. I know it's cliché, but when it means something you'll know it, and it really does."

Elfman found her footing "after I had children, actually," said the star of 1600 Penn. "Much later in my career. Because you just gain so much more confidence. Because you're responsible for a lot more than yourself, which gives you courage. And it just gives you perspective, too."

With the Oscars just a day away, the question remained: had the attendees picked their gowns yet?

"We're down to two. It depends on which one I don't look so lumpy in," Spencer laughed.

Weaver said that while she chose an Australian designer for her first trip to the Oscars two years ago for Animal Kingdom, this year she couldn't make the trip back home for her Silver Linings Playbook gown. "Because I've been here making a movie I didn't have time to go back to Australia to have an Australia designer," she said. "So it's going to be someone from where I was able to get all the fittings done here. Just a logistical thing, really."


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