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Hasty Pudding Honors Annette Bening as the 74th Woman of the Year

Annette Bening greets fans at the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year festivities on Feb. 6.
Annette Bening greets fans at the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year festivities on Feb. 6. By Courtesy of Thomas A. Ferro
By Thomas A. Ferro, Crimson Staff Writer

As Annette Bening walked onto the stage of Hasty Pudding’s over-a-century-old Farkas Hall on Feb. 6, occasionally giving a serious royal wave to the audience, the room quieted down to an excited hush.

“So, Annette, how was your day with the Pudding Club?” asked Joshua R. Hillers ’24, the President of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

“It has been the day of a lifetime,” Bening replied. “Of all of the honors that I’ve received, this has meant the least to me. I am not thrilled, I am not delighted, and I’m not even grateful.”

The audience roared with laughter — and the night was off.

Hasty Pudding Theatricals has been selecting a Woman of the Year for nearly three quarters of a century, beginning with Gertrude Lawrence in 1951. Per tradition, the celebrity nominated for Woman of the Year is the subject of a roast during which Hasty Pudding Theatricals organizes mocking skits at the expense of the acclaimed guest.

“Well, I guess some of us are very, very glad that you’re joining us here tonight. It truly is an honor to have you here,” said Nikita Nair ’24, the Cast Vice President of Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

“I mean, how could we not be? Throughout Bening's 35-year-career, she’s garnered millions of fans across the globe — and some of them are still alive,” said Hillers.

As Bening charmingly deflected the quick quips about her age with contagious laughter, her long and successful career in Hollywood was also extolled by the emcees. In addition to her several nominations for an Academy Award that Nair noted, Bening has won two Golden Globes, one Tony award, and various other accolades and nominations. Now, Bening has added the 74th Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year award to the list.

“It’s like you’re the Meryl Streep of actresses,” Hillers said.

Yet despite all of her achievements, Bening has yet to win an Academy Award. This, Nair suggests, may change with her most recent film, “Nyad,” which earned Bening her fifth Oscar nomination. The movie is based on the true story of the swimmer Diana Nyad, who accomplished the incredible feat of swimming from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64.

“You’ve totally transformed yourself for this role, learning long-distance swimming from Olympic swimmer Bonnie Stoll and short-range lesbianism from Olympic lesbian Jodi Foster,” Hillers said.

The role, indeed, was an important moment in Bening’s career. In the press conference that followed the roast, Bening shared her thoughts on the unprecedented nature of “Nyad.”

“[Nyad] certainly crashes any stereotype because of the way she lives her life and because of her athleticism.”

With this in mind, Bening reflected on the importance of growth and evolution as one ages.

“It doesn’t have to be a marathon swim to feel like you want to challenge yourself,” Bening said. “You want to do something new, you want to change and grow.”

So, the first skit of the night required Bening to perform improvised swim-like dance moves alongside a troupe of synchronized dancers. Improvising a synchronized dance on stage is no easy feat, especially when it’s to Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam.” However, Bening went all in, swiveling, swimming, and spinning in close coordination with the beat and the other dancers –– pure confidence, stellar dance skills, and laughing earned Bening a well-deserved roaring applause.

“Now, I was supposed to say that was pretty bad, but that actually wasn’t — that was something over there. I mean, come on, guys,” Nair said.

The night continued with jokes about the age of Warren Beatty, Bening’s husband, who was named the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year almost 50 years ago, as Hillers noted, and some remarks on Bening’s “fierce pixie cut.” One skit even involved Bening recreating her haircut on Hasty Pudding Theatricals cast member, Bernardo de Moura Sequeira.

Vigorously cutting Sequeira’s blonde wig, Bening — proud of her work — confidently said, “You look so pretty,” as some audience members cheered with delight.

Following the haircut, the next skit revived Bening’s history in the theater — most notably her 2018 role in “The Seagull,” which also featured Saoirse Ronan and Elisabeth Moss.

Forced to adorn herself with a white feathered wig, Bening bravely assumed the role of a literal seagull –– playing across from Hasty Pudding’s version of Annette Bening, Sequeira, who still wore the choppy pixie cut.

After a series of purring “caws” and aggressively pained “squawks,” Nair said, “Well, that was powerful.” Bening replied, “Well, that’s Chekhov for you.”

With one final act, Bening was told she would be awarded an Oscar after all her years of acting. Just as the emcees were about to hand Bening her Oscar, they remembered that they had meant to give it to their own version of Annette Bening — Sequeira — instead.

“Wait a minute,” said Bening, with sudden realization and dramatic music playing, “I’m the real Annette Bening.” Proceeding to wrestle the trophy from the imposter, Bening triumphantly, and finally, won her Oscar.

In her victory speech, Bening said, “Actually, what I really want to say is that I did it all myself with no one’s help. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.”

And, with this, Bening was awarded the Pudding Pot, concluding the roast.

When asked what she planned to do with the Pudding Pot in the subsequent press conference, Bening said, “This, I think, is gonna go in my front hall. Alone. Just on a table by itself. Maybe with a candle that’s always burning next to it.”

—Staff writer Thomas A. Ferro can be reached at thomas.ferro@thecrimson.com.

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