The only one of this year’s nine muses awarded by New York Women in Film to actually have been in a movie as a muse — Albert Brooks’s 1999 “The Muse” — Sharon Stone played goddess to the hilt.
At a packed 700-person luncheon this week at Cipriani 42nd Street, she spoke of growing up in a town so small there was no traffic light; watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on television and dreaming of dancing down a spiral staircase, she punctuated her story of finally achieving that, “and I did.” “And I did” became the punchline of several more achievements including starring as an action hero.
Hers is a story of many triumphs–making it in New York being one of them. Yes, she started as an Eileen Ford model and still had to look for change in telephone booths so she could take the subway home downtown to a studio she shared with another girl and a million roaches. Recently in L.A. her pal Sarah Paulson asked her why people hate her so much. “You know why,” she said.
No other movie has followed her like “Basic Instinct.” An little known actress at the time, she was paid $500,000. Michael Douglas was paid $14 million. There is of course one of the most memorable movie scenes which aside from making everyone say, Did I just see what I just saw, features her speech about loving sex with a particular partner because he liked to experiment. Wow! She became the voice of female pleasure like no other woman since The Wife of Bath! Few have torn away the curtain on hypocrisy as she has. Now we have college professors fired for showing full frontal Michelangelo’s David, she said. Prior to “Basic Instinct,” she says, “I was not allowed to cross my legs, or hold my arms up. You could not show armpits. We should think about what we can do.”
“Slumdog Millionaire” star Freida Pinto made it all about her journey, how motherhood helped her transcend insecurity, perhaps the most common thread among women who achieve—until now. Cookbook author and lifestyle guru Sandra Lee had taken the stage before, and recounted a time Stone sat with her on an airplane. Sharon Stone gave her sage advice, she said: “Make sure your hair is not perfect.” Munching on branzino and ricotta cheese cake, guests listened intently as Lee told everyone how excited she was to be in New York.
But Danielle Brooks belted it out. I mean, she literally sang, “New York/ New York.” “If I can make it there . . . “ and no one wanted to follow that act. Winner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment Made in NY Award, she just wrapped filming “The Color Purple” in the role of Sofia. She also just made her Broadway debut in the most recent Broadway revival. This theater season she killed in August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” my pick for this year’s Best Revival Drama Tony. Watch for a nomination for her too.
Inspiring, the NYWIFT “Muse” Award luncheon hit every note: on stereotypes, equal pay for women, sexism, racism, age-ism, but as one speaker noted, “The women in this room are powerful. And the few men who are here, they must be powerful too.” Everyone took home a David Yurman bracelet. The message: Every goddess and action hero must be adorned.