Australia has a long and successful history in Hollywood with the likes of Olivia Newton-John, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie and Cate Blanchett all nabbing film award nominations and prizes abroad. Today, G’DAY USA and the American Australian Association (AAA) partnered for the first time for a virtual gala to celebrate Australians in the cultural and creative sectors int he U.S..
Presented by Angela Bishop, the event raises money for young emerging artists through the AAA Arts Fund. Blanchett was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her performances in projects including Where’d You Go Bernadette?, The Aviator, Lord of the Rings and Thor: Ragnarok while New York Times best-selling author and writer of Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty, was honoured with Excellence in Literature. Australian Indigenous actor, Aaron Pedersen was awarded for Excellence in Television.
George Clooney penned a special tribute to Blanchett with her honour.
“When I say calibre I’m not just talking about her obvious talent as an actress, she’s easily the best actor of her generation…it’s how she solves problems in the rest of the world,” said Clooney.
“Australia is such an extraordinary country with a plethora of talent both in front and behind the camera and I do hope as the cultural connection between Australia and America enters yet another exciting chapter, we do find genuine and concrete ways to honour and value the contribution of crews and creatives and casts on the ground in Australia,” Blanchett said.
“My career would not be anything without the extraordinary connection between these two countries, so thank you.”
Behind the hugely popular novel, Big Little Lies, Moriarty’s words were transformed into the award winning HBO series of the same name. Starring leading lady Nicole Kidman as well as Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley, the Australian actress penned her own tribute to the author in presenting the award.
“Your imagination, your brilliance, your friendship, have been a gift to us and a gift to the world,” Kidman said. “The stories and characters that have emerged from your mind and your heart have not only sold millions of books and attracted ten of millions of television viewers, but have shed light on bold and often ignored stories. And your ability to get inside the minds of experiences of women and men, to explore marital and family dynamics in all their complicated shapes is nothing short of groundbreaking.”
The third honouree, Australian Indigenous actor Pedersen was presented with his award by Jack Thompson and received a tribute by Tasma Walton. Pedersen is the first Indigenous actor to receive the award. “But I won’t be the last”, he says.
“What Aaron was able to do every time he played a new character was to break through those limitations, break through those stereotypes and bring into the story a fully formed unique, strong and empowered indigenous man to our screens,” Walton said of Pedersen.
Musical performances from Guy Sebastian, Delta Goodrem, Colin Hay, Dami Im, Chris Sebastian, Johnny Manuel and William Barton were featured throughout the night.
Watch the full presentation below.