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Viola Davis, Amy Poehler, Issa Rae take the stage at annual Women in Film gala

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 6/13/2019 Lindsey Bahr
Viola Davis sitting in front of a laptop: Viola Davis presents the crystal award for advocacy in entertainment at the Women in Film Annual Gala on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. © Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP Viola Davis presents the crystal award for advocacy in entertainment at the Women in Film Annual Gala on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

In a night of commanding words from some of the most accomplished women in entertainment — the likes of Issa Rae, Viola Davis and producer Cathy Schulman — at the annual Women in Film Gala Wednesday in Beverly Hills, Amy Poehler put her own unconventional spin on the ‘‘empowerment speech.’’

Poehler, who was accepting the final honor of the evening, the Entrepreneur in Entertainment Award, simply read off a list of names: ‘‘A League of Their Own,’’ Patti Smith, ‘‘Fleabag,’’ “The Virgin Suicides,’’ Judge Judy, US Women’s Soccer, ‘‘American Psycho,’’ ‘’Russian Doll,’’ Dolly Parton. She continued listing off female creators and female-created shows and films for 2½ minutes.

‘‘Thank you, thank you,’’ Poehler said. ‘‘More, more, more.’’

It was simple and brief, and got the point across to the ballroom full of women working in the industry. She followed a riotously funny speech from ‘‘Insecure’’ creator Rae, who decided to take inspiration from her hip-hop idols and buck the social convention of women being humble. She said she was just going to say the opposite of ‘‘what I would normally say.’’

‘‘You future hoes need to bow down,’’ Rae said as the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Entrepreneur Award. ‘‘Entrepreneur means I did that [expletive] by myself.’’

Schulman, a former Women in Film board president being recognized for her advocacy in entertainment, took a vastly different approach with a vulnerable and open story about the personal and financial trials she’s had to endure while trying to ‘‘make it.’’

Although she won an Oscar for producing the film ‘‘Crash,’’ she said she never made a dollar from the film, which earned almost $100 million at the box office, and even went into credit card debt trying to make sure the production had what was needed. She’s produced 30-something films and raised a daughter, but said she has — from pre-school through graduation — picked her up from school only four times.

‘‘I’ve paid a deep price for my advocacy,’’ Schulman said.

She said there’s still ‘‘a long way to go’’ and hopes that the words ‘‘diversity’’ and ‘‘inclusion’’ are decoupled.

‘‘Diversity is a counting mechanism,’’ she said. ‘‘Inclusion is not something you can count, advertise, or market. Inclusion is what happens when diverse people are actually present in equal numbers in decision making positions.’’

Davis, who is working with Schulman on a project called ‘‘The Woman King,’’ which she described as ‘‘ ‘Braveheart,’ only with all black women and no Scottish brogues,’’ said, ‘‘In a world that has a bad habit of erasing us girls . . . we need champions like [Schulman].’’

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