Twice a year, Variety magazine hosts the Power of Women luncheon in Los Angeles and New York. The luncheon is an event to celebrate women in the entertainment industry who use their fame to spotlight charitable causes. At this year’s event in New York, Glenn Close was honored for the charity that she created in 2010, called Bring Change 2 Mind, which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental illnesses.
After accepting the award honoring her efforts, Close gave an emotional speech in which she cited her family’s long history of mental illness as the initial inspiration for her to start the charity.
Her mother suffered a lifetime of depression, her younger sister has bipolar disorder and her nephew has been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder. She also noted that mental illness ran deeper in her family than those closest to her by sharing that her mother’s half brother committed suicide and one of her mother’s uncles died from alcoholism while another uncle was diagnosed as schizophrenic.
During her tearful speech, Close spoke out to fellow honoree Whoopi Goldberg and said she was in need of their dear friend, Robin Williams to crack a few jokes and bring some laughter to the somber mood her speech created.
Williams battled mental illness for many years before taking his own life in August 2014. While referencing Williams and others who have committed suicide, Close said to the audience, “We have lost so many.” She then urged some of the entertainment industry’s most powerful women to use their celebrity status to help spread awareness of mental illness and end the stigma surrounding the topic.
Lena Dunham, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachel Weisz and Kim Kardashian were the other women honored at the luncheon.