Before New Friends New Life’s 20th Anniversary Luncheon keynote speaker Uma Thurman entered the Omni’s Fair Park Room, the near capacity crowd was happily just chatting and sipping coffee on Friday, November 9.
But the moment the willowy blonde in black entered a side door, the meet-and-greet lined up on both sides of the sponsor backdrop. The VIP types like Honorary Co-Chairs Marla and Mike Boone and Luncheon Co-Chairs Connie Kleinert Babikian, McCall Cravens and Jill Meyer were scooched in from the right side. The rest of the crowd including Tyler Clutts, Bianca Jackson, Tracy Huntley, NFNL Co-Founder Gail Turner with daughter Jessica Turner Waugh, Chris Kleinert and Boyd Messmann queued up on the left.
At one point, Uma’s handler looked a bit overwhelmed by the folks coming from both sides and asked, “Who’s in charge?” But he need not have worried. The VIP photos were snapped plus a couple of extras of luncheon co-chairs , NFNL Board Chair Wendy Messmann, Katherine Wynne, NFNL Circle of Friends Board Chair Marybeth Conlon and NFNL Co-Founder Nancy Ann Hunt flashing new lashes courtesy of daughter Ashlee Kleinert. They had been a birthday gift for Nancy Ann’s milestone birthday.
NFNL CEO Kim Robinson admitted that the past couple of weeks had been challenging, with scheduled speaker Mandy Moore bailing at the last minute and actress Uma stepping in. … One big-time nonprofit exec admired the handling of the situation, saying, “They really handled it seamlessly as if they had a backup plan all along.”
Once inside the Dallas Ballroom, the 1,000 guests included Brad Cheves, Toni Brinker, Gerald Turner, Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell, Joy Duncan, Stacey Branch, Ray Hunt, Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Jennifer Staubach Gates and Keana and Morgan Meyer, who was still in the mid-term election “waiting room.”
And speaking of the recent election, current Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson didn’t show a sign of defeat from her loss to Judge John Creuzot as she forcefully provided the invocation.
Following the welcome by emcee Shelley Slater, the Co-Chairs and Kim plus a couple of videos celebrating NFNL’s 20th anniversary, Tyler introduced the 2018 ProtectHer Awardees — The Dallas Morning News, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Becca Stevens and Victor Boutros.
Former clients came on stage including Robin “Robbie” Hamilton, who had become a counselor for young women transferring from street life to home life.
Guests learned such facts as
- 400 young people are on the Dallas streets each night
- Texas ranks #2 in the country for the most calls to the human trafficking hotline
- 13 is the average age that a girl enters the sex trade
- and $99M is spent on human trafficking in Texas, and
- since NFNL’s establishment in 1998, legislators “heard our plea for reform and took action during the 2015-2017 sessions.”
Following a “passing of the hat” by NFNL’s men’s group, Uma, blowing kisses to the guests, arrived on stage and joined Shelly for a chat that bounced from her human rights advocacy to “Who’s your favorite designer?”
The answer to that one was Zac Posen. When Shelly asked how long it took Zac to create an outfit for her, Uma seemed a little startled and admitted he didn’t really create special designs for her.
Her oldest daughter, Maya Hawke, is 20 years old. “She went to Julliard. That’s like winning ‘The Hunger Games.’”
After having given birth to Levon Thurman-Hawke, she made “Kill Bill: Vol. 1.” Uma recalled, “I was going to keep breastfeeding because this was the only way I got time off.”
She admitted that she experienced a nerve-wracking moment just before she was to present an award to Quentin Tarantino. The reason: They followed Robert Redford’s giving an award to Paul Newman.
Uma had turned down “Pulp Fiction” three times because she felt it was homophobic. But she relented when director Tarantino explained that on TV, women were constantly being seen as victims. He wanted to let men know about being the victim.
Before departing, Uma stressed her admiration for the work that was being done by NFNL, and encouraged all in the audience to get on board.