Justin Timberlake couldn’t help but feel a little out of place Wednesday at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Power 100 Women in Entertainment breakfast.
The 36-year-old singer was one of the few men at the star-studded event at Los Angeles’ Milk Studios — standing out in a room filled with Hollywood’s biggest actresses including Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, Gal Gadot, Glenn Close, Sarah Silverman, Chrissy Metz, Shonda Rhimes, Loni Love, Niecy Nash, Emmy Rossum, Bryce Dallas Howard, Olivia Munn, Anna Paquin, Lea Michele, Kyra Sedgwick, Dianne Warren, Isla Fisher and more.
“Angelina warned me that I was basically only here to be objectified so that’s absolutely fair,” Timberlake, 36, joked to the room when he took the stage. “I’d like to say to all of the women — strong, beautiful souls: I’m happy to be here to be your arm candy. … When The Hollywood Reporter called me and asked me to be your bitch, I said, ‘Oh, I might like that.’ ”
Of course, Timberlake was at the event to be far more than “arm candy.” He was on hand to present $1 million in college scholarships to girls from underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, stepping in for Selena Gomez who was previously scheduled to present the honor.
Being in the room left Timberlake feeling motivated. “I feel really inspired to be in this room,” he said. “People like Angelina, Sherry , Shonda , Nancy and you strong women that are younger than me, Jennifer , Lily — I look up to all of you.”
“To the men in this room… I think we actually are here because we deserve the opportunity to speak up, to say when something is not right,” he continued. “We need to get on board. It’s not a responsibility, it’s our privilege. It’s our privilege because at the end of the day if you can be lucky enough to be raised by a strong woman and convince a strong woman to marry you, you will realize that we are nothing without the strength of women.”
The event made such an impact on Timberlake that he joked he had to give 2-year-old son Silas Randall a sister. “Oh my God, I’ve got to have a daughter,” the “Can’t Stop the Feeling” singer said. “I’m ruined after today.”
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While Jolie may have teased Timberlake, when she took the podium at the event she got serious about the problems facing women globally.
“We have a level of freedom that is unimaginable for millions of other women around the world — women who live with conflict and terrorism and displacement and poverty, who never get a chance, whose voices are always silenced,” she said. “We have the right to think thoroughly and to speak freely and to put forward our ideas on equal terms. There are women across the world who face serious danger and get hurt just trying to have a voice, just an opinion. So it’s hard to celebrate our progress while this is still the case, but it means that asserting ourselves as female artists represents something really, really important in the world today.”
“Every woman has a right not only to independence and security, but to live her life to the full and to express herself to the full, including through art and ideas as well as politics,” she continued. “That right is denied so often to women because it is so powerful. Art influences and catches the imagination. It challenges orthodoxy and societies where women are denied freedom of expression, those societies are being shaped without the voice and influence and wisdom of women.”
Jolie concluded: “Together we stand for more than our own rights and freedoms, but we do stand for the freedom and rights of all women. We have in this room the ability to help those women artists struggling to help find a way make sure their voices are heard; to show solidarity with them, to champion them, to help them tell their stories.”