Chrysalis held its annual Butterfly Ball gala in Los Angeles on Saturday night, honoring both Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chair Joe Drake and president Nathan Kahane, as well as UTA co-head of talent Chris Hart. Just days after the writers strike ceased, and with SAG-AFTRA still on strike, Ike Barinholtz was quick to make jokes about the current atmosphere when presenting Drake and Kahane with their honor.
“This is one of the first events in town where we are celebrating post the end of the writers strike,” Barinholtz told the crowd at Los Angeles’ Petersen Museum, to big applause. “As a proud WGA member, I just want to say I see a lot of folks in this room who work at studios and streamers, and I just would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you guys for picketing. It was a joke, just a big goof, and in the coming weeks and months when I’m pitching TV shows and movies, just remember that tonight I apologized.”
Chrysalis is a nonprofit focused on services that solve and prevent homelessness, offering a job-readiness program, individualized supportive services and paid transitional employment to people navigating barriers to the workforce. On a more serious note, Barinholtz praised the Lionsgate execs for having given “so many people their first breakthrough in this business, and they are always, always taking chances on people and giving them the help and support they need to succeed,” adding, “they are as good human beings as they are movie producers.”
Taking the stage after a video montage that included virtual congratulations from Will Ferrell, Kerry Washington and Robert De Niro, Drake said that for the last 10 years, “Nathan and I have been supportive of organizations that focus on making lasting, generational change one individual at a time. Like everyone in this room, we want to support organizations that uplift hardworking people who need a boost to improve their own lives when circumstances are making it almost impossible to do so — Chrysalis is one of those extraordinary organizations.”
Terry Crews, who served as emcee for the evening, spoke about his own personal connection to the cause, as after retiring from the NFL, he struggled to secure a next job in entertainment. He eventually registered with a temp agency, which sent him a job to sweep floors at a factory.
“It left me feeling devastated but something else happened that allowed me to reshape my mindset bit by bit,” Crews said. “At the end of the day, I was able to put gas in the car and food on our table. I went to sleep exhausted, but I would wake up ready to take charge of my life. Last year, more than 1,700 individuals worked a transitional job with Chrysalis.” One of the organization’s successful alumni, Stephanie Jeffcoat, received the John Dillon Award at the event.
One of the night’s other big honorees was Hart, who was presented his award by longtime client John Cho. “What distinguished him from the very first was a strategic understanding of the larger picture. As an actor, I’m prone to get bogged down in the details — some important, most trivial,” Cho said in his speech. “In contrast, Chris has a knack for perching himself above a given situation, seeing causes and effects visible to the outcomes that I’ve not considered. At times it feels like I’m holding handfuls of jigsaw puzzle pieces, and he’s got the box with the whole picture on the front.”
“There’s a very large brain underneath that perfect haircut,” the actor teased, before showing a video with messages from Nick Jonas, Common, Queen Latifah, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ryan Seacrest, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sebastian Maniscalco, Xolo Maridueña and a number of UTA execs, including CEO Jeremy Zimmer.
Accepting his honor, Hart spoke about suddenly losing his father when he was 21. “I was brand new to the entertainment business and working in the mailroom at this big talent agency, scared, unsure of myself and unsure of what would come next. But I had a handful of people who really believed in me, people who gave me a chance and helped me grow into the person I am today,” Hart said. “Since then, I’ve given a lot of thought about who I wanted to be, and not just what do I do for a living. My hope is that I will always be someone who pays it forward, someone who helps others grow in my workplace and contributes to organizations like Chrysalis.”