Billie Eilish and her mom Maggie Baird, Nikki Reed and Bill Nye were among the notable names recognized at the 2022 Environmental Media Association Awards Gala presented by Toyota on Saturday night at Sunset Las Palmas Studio.
The group was acknowledged for their contributions to making the planet a healthier space for future generations and Eilish and Baird, who founded and serves as president of the national nonprofit Support+Feed, kicked off the show by accepting the Missions in Music Award. Eilish took the stage in a green ensemble alongside her mother, beginning her speech with a humble tribute to her parent.
“I work with brands and we make things in the fashion industry — which I’m such a big fan of and really involved with — it’s just horribly upsetting the way that people aren’t really thinking about it first,” Eilish shared. “I mean, people kind of think about it, or are pretending to think about it, and I would just say that my mom has been … she’s always thinking about it in this way that I’m just so in awe.”
She continued: “I feel like I know nothing. I’m just trying to do what I can, and I just go to her for anything that I need to know. She deserves really everything that I have. I feel like I’m living almost the life that she should have and I’m always just trying to do what my mom would want me to do. She’s just always thinking ahead.”
The gratitude flowed from both sides as Baird also thanked her husband and children for putting up with her eco-conscious whims throughout their formative years, noting how “nobody really enjoys it when you forbid them from using paper towels” or single use plastics in their home. Though, it’s clear some of her lessons made a lasting mark on her children.
Baird’s efforts to save the planet have ultimately become a family affair — her son, Finneas O’Connell (and Eilish’s producing partner) serves on the board of the nonprofit, and Eilish has offered assistance by sponsoring the company’s “Overheated” six-day climate conference, which took place in June.
“When they were little, we sat in the park with a lot of kids and talked about books. And as they got older, of course, you get a lot of dystopian novels, as you do. While we read those dystopian novels, all I could think of is we are fucking living in a dystopian novel. We are living like we’re on page 10 of book one. We’re on book four, like page 325. If it’s ‘Harry Potter,’ it’s like, 782. We have to start acting like where we are in that novel. This is urgent,” Baird said.
Through Support+Feed, Baird has worked to provide people across the country with access to plant-based foods. The company started in Los Angeles and has since expanded to New York City, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, focusing on the communities most affected by food-insecurity and climate change.
“We’ve been incredibly slow to address disaster, which is animal agriculture. And it’s time. We don’t have any time left. So I know there’s a lot of you out there in the moment. Please use your platform, change your production, look at your craft services and meals to serve your crew and the business lunches and board meetings,” Baird continued.
“Plant based food is not the only solution to climate change. But there’s no solution without it. so we do have the privilege to choose what we eat for the people who are most affected by climate change who are the least responsible for causing it,” she said.
Hosted by Wendie Malick and David Spade, the evening outdoor ceremony was catered with hearty plant-based creations and also featured appearances from young activists who were paired with influential actors, models, and industry figures such as Paris Jackson and Emile Hirsch to present each award.
Nikki Reed walked the carpet alongside her former “Twilight” cast mate Peter Facinelli and her frequent collaborator, director Catherine Hardwick, who presented her with the Innovator Award for creating her sustainable jewelry line BaYou with Love. Onstage, Reed recounted how she quit acting five years ago and pivoted to the new endeavor, a company at the intersection of sustainability, tech and business.
“I quit acting and I started my entire life over and I did something really scary,” she told the crowd. “I left the only career I had ever known to take a chance on myself.”
Reed went on to address the growing issue of climate change in her remarks, citing an analogy by Jane Goodall (of whom she is a self-proclaimed “stalker” fan) to reflect the interconnectedness of life.
“I was left with this beautiful visual of how we really are all one. This mural that she painted with her words of our forests and our oceans and our animals and how if we think of it as a sort of gorgeous living tapestry, then, when every species goes, it’s like pulling a thread from that tapestry,” she explained. “And there are only so many threads. We are unraveling.”
Reed also imparted the necessity of teaching the next generation to “fall in love with nature.” “Otherwise, there’s no future,” Reed said. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back at my children or grandchildren in 50 years time and say ‘I’m sorry.’ I want to look back and say ‘I was there and I did something.”
Nye accepted the reality TV program award for his Peacock series “The End is Nye,” through which he spotlights the various science-based environmental issues plaguing the planet.
“We make the world better with science. So, if you’re not optimistic people, we’re not going to get anything done,” said Nye. The scientific TV host closed his speech by urging those in the audience to continue doing the work to push the message of the EMA to “dare I say, change the world.”
Complete list of the night’s winners and honorees:
Feature Film – “Don’t Look Up”
Television Episodic Drama – “Yellowstone”: Keep the Wolves Close
Television Episodic Comedy – “Abbott Elementary”: Art Teacher
Children’s Television – “Kid Correspondent”: Which Snack Is Best for the Planet?
The Hollywood Reporter’s Pictures for the Planet EMA Award for Doc Film – “Eating Our Way to Extinction”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Pictures for the Planet EMA Award for Doc Series – “America the Beautiful: Brave New World”
Reality Television – “The End is Nye”: The Volcano Paradox
Variety Television – “The Problem with Jon Stewart”: Climate Change