Pop Culture

Here’s What You Missed at Vanity Fair’s Cocktail Hour, Live! Act One

Serena Williams, Michael B. Jordan, Gal Gadot, Andra Day, Kathryn Hahn, and Judith Light sipped drinks and shared stories at V.F.’s inaugural pre-Oscars virtual event.

At this point everyone has perfected the art of staying in—from mixing a stiff drink to crafting a cozy home theater setup. This awards season Vanity Fair took advantage of the world’s new skill set by launching Cocktail Hour, Live!, a virtual event series to celebrate the upcoming Oscars in style. 

Act one of three kicked off Tuesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Narrator Maya Rudolph and Vanity Fair editor in chief Radhika Jones welcomed viewers to the party, which included a rapid-fire Proust Questionnaire with Awkwafina and a performance from Soul’s Oscar-nominated score courtesy of Jon Batiste. The three-day series is presented by GREY GOOSE® Essences and Lancôme, and supported by Cointreau and Tequila Don Julio. Cocktail Hour, Live! will support the Hollywood community and Los Angeles, with a portion of ticket-sale proceeds donated to the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) to help support COVID-19 relief efforts. For more information and to purchase tickets for act two and act three of Cocktail Hour, Live! as well as on-demand viewing through April 22, visit vf.com/live.

Ahead, a few highlights from act one, which featured Serena Williams, Michael B. Jordan, Gal Gadot, Judith Light, Kathryn Hahn, and Andra Day.

MICHAEL B. JORDAN and SERENA WILLIAMS in conversation

Both Michael B. Jordan and Serena Williams know a little something about changing the world. As Jordan preps for the release of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (out April 30) and his directorial debut, Creed III (!), Williams is exclusively revealing her first-look deal with Amazon Studios—featuring both scripted and non-scripted projects centered on the lens of Serena. The duo convened for a discussion about their shared influences, Williams’s action-hero aspirations, and what it’s like to be a natural disruptor.

“I think I was kind of thrown into this without realizing it—being different and changing the process,” Williams said of her barrier-smashing career. “Coming into tennis, being Black was so different and so loud and so everything that it’s kind of this mindset.” The 23-time Grand Slam winner added, “Now everything that I do, I feel like without trying, it’s like I’m always changing that narrative.” Jordan replied, “You’re just being you, and being you is making a difference.”

Jordan hopes to make a similar splash when he sits in the director’s chair on Creed III. “Honestly, seeing Ryan Coogler direct Fruitvale Station, we became really close,” Jordan recalled. “And seeing somebody that was so close in age to myself direct a movie, I was like, Man, maybe I could do that too. And he pushed me. He was like, ‘Listen, it’s never gonna be the perfect time. You gotta just do it.’” As for what to expect from the trilogy-making Creed film, Jordan teased, “I think we have a story that’s going to be really impactful and special.”

GAL GADOT and Vanity Fair’s ANTHONY BREZNICAN in conversation  

Amid a challenging few years, Gal Gadot says she’s been spending a lot of time thinking about ripple effects—the ways in which small moments can have major influence. That’s the ethos behind her serving as an executive producer of Impact, a docuseries about real-life women making a difference, which begins airing on National Geographic’s YouTube channel on April 26.

Gadot, who is currently expecting her third child, opened up to Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican about exploring this theme throughout her various projects, including both an upcoming Apple TV+ series about Hedy Lamarr and, of course, Wonder Woman. “I do think, especially after the year that we just had, we could’ve used her in real life,” she said of Diana Prince. During Breznican and Gadot’s conversation, she spoke about her daughters’ reaction to the hit superhero franchise and what it was like watching Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League. (Yes, she did watch it early, and no, she couldn’t do it in one sitting either.)

The actor also revealed that she modeled her warrior-princess character after another royal Diana. While watching a documentary about the late Princess of Wales, inspiration struck. “There was a part where they say that she was full of compassion and she always cared for the people,” Gadot remembered. “And that was like, ding, ding, ding, ding. That should be the Wonder Woman that we have.”

KATHRYN HAHN and JUDITH LIGHT 

Beholding the joyous reunion between Transparent costars Kathryn Hahn and Judith Light feels like listening in on the ultimate sleepover. Hot off her freewheeling turn in WandaVision, Hahn arrived at the chat equipped with orange wine and effusive praise for her former coworker. “I mean, you’re a legend, Judith Light. We all know it,” she declared.

But it was Light who compared her own onscreen path to that of her Cocktail Hour, Live! counterpart. “We have a similar dynamic in the trajectory of our careers in that as we matured, all of these other things started to happen,” she explained. During their charming chat, Hahn and Light bonded over eschewing ingenue roles, filming their first scene together on Transparent, and (almost) meeting decades earlier than they did.

Much to Light’s surprise, Hahn and her future mother-in-law saw the Tony winner’s powerful performance in Broadway’s Wit. “That last moment when you came out, I had never seen anything that—my friend and I call it now ‘neck tears,’ when you cry so hard that it rolls down your neck,” Hahn remembered. “Like the sob that I had when you came out at the end.” As for the next time Light and Hahn join forces, it very well may be in a new project, Hahn promised: “We have unfinished business, you and I.”

ANDRA DAY and Vanity Fair’s YOHANA DESTA in conversation

The story of Andra Day’s Oscar-nominated feature film debut, in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, begins and ends with obsession. What started as a childhood fascination with the jazz singer would later get woven into Day’s stage name, before transforming the musician into a Golden Globe–winning actor. “It’s just been an involved love affair for a really long time,” she told Vanity Fair’s Yohana Desta. During their wide-ranging conversation, Day opened up about hearing “Strange Fruit” for the first time, crowd-surfing as Billie Holiday, and finding a family on her first film set.

The leading lady, who also wrote the original song “Tigress & Tweed” for the movie, recalled her “striking” introduction to Holiday’s music. “Interestingly enough, I think I was looking to other singers to cultivate my identity from them,” Day said, adding, “Billie just helped me to accept what it is that my voice sounded like and to accept who I am and my musical contribution.”

By the end of a grueling production process, which included dropping weight and smoking cigarettes, Day said it was difficult to separate herself from the character. “I didn’t know who I was outside of Billie Holiday, and I’m only recently discovering who I am in this new season of my life,” she said. Still, the Oscar nominee is hoping to retain a few of Holiday’s traits. “[Her] bravery in spite of the fear I really hope stays—and I believe it will.”

Vanity Fair will donate* 20% of the actual purchase price of tickets (less taxes and fees) from vf.com/live to support the Motion Picture & Television Fund from March 25, 2021, through April 15, 2021. All donations shall be made payable to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Learn more at mptf.com/. Purchases are not tax-deductible as a charitable contribution by customers. Donations will not be made in connection with sales to residents of Georgia, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.

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— Tina Turner Is Still Haunted by Her Abusive Marriage
— Emilio Estevez’s True Hollywood Stories
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— Why Black Panther Is Key to Understanding The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
— 13 Oscar-Nominated Movies You Can Stream Right Now
— From the Archive: Meet the Real-Life Teen Burglars Who Inspired The Bling Ring
— Serena Williams, Michael B. Jordan, Gal Gadot, and more are coming to your favorite screen April 13–15. Get your tickets to Vanity Fair’s Cocktail Hour, Live! here.

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