After braving the deep freeze for a parade through Harvard Square, “Jurassic World” actress Bryce Dallas Howard spent Thursday afternoon getting warmly roasted by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
As the theater group’s 2019 Woman of the Year (and the 69th recipient of that award), Howard took a good-natured ribbing from cast members before receiving her pudding pot. And the actress, producer, and director — known for her roles in “The Help” and “Black Mirror” — proved a good sport throughout, occasionally landing a quip of her own as cast members cracked wise about everything from Howard’s early work to her famous father, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard.
“You’ve played prolific female roles, such as ‘Redheaded Audience Girl’ in ‘Parenthood’ and ‘Kissing Woman’ in a film called, and we’re not making this title up, ‘Good Dick,’ ” snarked roast emcee Grace Ramsey, president of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, after calling Howard a feminist icon.
“She’s had other prolific roles, such as ‘Surprised Who’ in ‘[How] the Grinch [Stole Christmas],’ ” noted co-emcee David Lynch, a past Hasty Pudding president.
“That’s so funny,” replied Ramsey, addressing Howard. “Because a surprised ‘Who?’ was exactly my reaction when I found out you were going to be woman of the year.”
They asked Howard to complete a few tasks before receiving her award, including taking on a “velociraptor” (cast member Shirley Chen, ’22) in a game of basketball.
At the post-roast presser, Howard struck a more serious tone when speaking about her decision to publicly accept the “4 percent challenge.” Issued at Sundance by Time’s Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, it calls on film industry leaders to commit to announcing one project with a female director in the next 18 months. The name references a 2017 Annenberg study that found only 4 percent of the directors of the decade’s thousand highest-grossing films were women.
“For the first time, the door is opening, and it’s not that there wasn’t a door before, but it was a lot to push through,” said Howard. “I know this because I come from privilege, so I know what the easiest version of that is, and it’s not easy.”
Naming dream collaborators she’d enlist to complete the challenge, Howard first mentioned Boston-bred “SMILF” creator Frankie Shaw, calling her “remarkable.” Other directors praised by the actress included Sofia Coppola, Janicza Bravo, Marianna Palka, and Leslye Headland.
The answer wasn’t Howard’s only show of support for gender equity in the arts. She stuck around Harvard into the evening to preview Hasty Pudding’s first-ever coed production. The historically all-male troupe announced last year it would begin to add female members, reversing a long-standing policy that had drawn criticism from both students and alumni. “France France Revolution,” the group’s 171st production, features six female Harvard students. In remarks introducing Howard, former Hasty Pudding president Andrew Farkas called Thursday “the most important day, perhaps, of our 200-year history.”
The oldest theatrical organization in the country, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals has been awarding its pudding pot since 1951 to a pair of performers who’ve made lasting contributions to entertainment. This year’s male honoree, “This Is Us” actor Milo Ventimiglia, will parade through Harvard Square next Friday.