Alas, the pandemic… remember that?… Well, back before it broke loose Genesis Women’s Shelter was over-the-top excited about having award-winning actress Nicole Kidman as the keynoter following her portrayal of abused wife Celeste in the “Big Little Lies” series. Then like all the world, COVID not only curtailed such in-person events, it resulted in a rise in domestic violence.
But Genesis and Nicole worked it out to have her appear virtually. The result was a money-maker, and Nicole made known her support of women escaping abusive relationships.
But neither Nicole nor Genesis were going to give up. On Friday, May 12, the red-haired, towering Nicole was front and center for an in-person appearance at the Genesis Annual Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.
Despite the night before supporting her husband Keith Urban at the ACM at Ford Center in Frisco, Kidman was bright eyed for the VIP reception in the Wedgwood Room. Despite some not-so-organized meet-and-greet receptions held by other groups recently, this one went seamlessly with guests like Luncheon Co-Chairs Monica and Brent Christopher, Board of Directors Chair Nancy Best, Leigh Ann Haugh, Patty Leyendecker, Emilynn Wilson, Marissa and Michael Horne, Layne Pitzer with mom Joan Eleazer, Olivia and Jeff Kearney and Gail Davis with daughter-in-law Krystal Davis getting together briefly with 5′ 11″ tall Nicole.
Despite word that the session was limited to two shots per guest on top of a time limit, the event ended ten minutes ahead of schedule with Nicole’s handlers all smiles and guests heading to their tables in the Chantilly Ballroom.
As the ballroom filled with 1,500, the crowd including Randy Best, Sheila and Jody Grant, Ashlee Kleinert, Lottye Brodsky Lyle, Jennifer Chandler, Wendy Messmann, Tracey Nash-Huntley, Angela and Brad Cheves, Vicki Howland and Clay Jenkins with his mother JoAnn Jenkins, the DeSoto High School Choir kicked off the luncheon singing on stage at 11:35.
Three minutes later Genesis Chief Development Officer Amy Norton took her place on stage to welcome guests with the year’s goal to haul in $1M. They were already at the $950K mark.
As a tribute to the 30 years of Genesis fundraising, it was pointed out how the “pearl” was the gem of the day. Ah, that’s why so many including Genesis CEO Jan Langbein were draped with strands of pearls.
Guests were encouraged to “take a stand for survivors of abuse by purchasing a symbolic 30th Anniversary Tribute Pearl which would be placed on the wall in honor of a friend, partner or loved one.” Freshwater Pearls were going for $30; South Sea Pearls were $100.
Another tip of the hat for the 30th anniversary was the long table leading to the stage for the past luncheon chairs.
At 11:46 Event Co-Chairs Monica and Brent added their welcome and thanks to guests, reporting that one in three Texas women would experience domestic violence. They added that this year’s event was the largest ever for Genesis.
Following Rev. Sheron Patterson‘s invocation, luncheon was served.
Despite the event running a bit behind schedule, the production crew got word that Nicole was comfortable using a handheld mic and they seamlessly made the change.
By noon, the servers were scrambling to get luncheon served with some tables still waiting while others were being cleared.
At 12:10 Jan took her place at the podium, recalling how when the first fundraiser took place there were just 150 guests. She then compared the process of a pearl’s creation to a Genesis client’s journey. Both start from a gritty presence but develop into a state of beauty. While the pearl transformation takes place within the oyster, the women are able to receive legal assistance, education and other resources provided by Genesis.
At 12:20 Nicole joined Jan onstage. The earlier plan for her to use a handheld was evidently scrubbed as she settled back in the chair sans mic.
As the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women since 2006 to eradicate women’s violence for 22 years, Nicole attributed her drive to being “raised by a strong-willed woman who wanted her daughters to have what she hadn’t.”
Nicole’s sister has six children and then became a lawyer in her 40s. When her sister asked Nicole, “What do I do?” Nicole replied, “Just relax.”
Their mother Janelle Kidman is 83, but her life force is still vital. She came from a generation of women that didn’t have the opportunities.
A video was shown on the room’s screens with Nicole saying that during the pandemic we learned that the home is not necessarily a safe place for women. She went on to say that what may have been okay in the past is not okay today.
When Jan brought up the subject of grandchildren, Nicole raised her hands in shock. Jan immediately realized that status had not yet taken place in the Kidman-Urban household and added, “It’s even better being a grandmother.”
When the subject of Nicole’s role in “Big Little Lies,” which she co-produced with actress Reese Witherspoon, came up, Nicole recalled how Reese insisted that she had to play the abused wife Celeste.
She added that too often women like those in “Big Little Lies” do it to protect their children, but “children know a lot more than the adults realize.”
Nicole admitted, “I belong to a family that is very mentoring.” She added that she felt for those who didn’t have that element in their families.
In response to, “What do you say to women who think they’re being harassed?” Nicole didn’t hesitate. “Tell them to reach out for help,” she said.
At 12:57 the chat ended hitting the million-dollar mark.