Wonder was the unofficial theme of the Smithsonian magazine's 2018 American Ingenuity Awards. The crowd of the National Portrait Gallery, animated Wednesday by conversations raised by the guests of honor of the evening, could be heard discuss everything from space travel to africutourism through self-driving. Even music legend Stevie Wonder made a surprise appearance.
The evening paid tribute to nine pioneers – from singers to researchers to scientists – for their innovative contributions to American culture. Among the recipients, the artist Janelle Monáe; actor and director John Krasinski; comedian John Leguizamo; Laureate poet Tracy K. Smith; Parkland, Florida, shot survivors and founders of March for Our Lives; Mónica Ramírez and Mily Treviño-Sauceda, co-founders of the National Women's Alliance for #MeToo agricultural workers and activists; Scott Bolton, Associate Vice President of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and Principal Investigator of the Juno Mission to Jupiter; Jean Bennett and Albert Maguire, medical researchers who have developed innovative gene therapy; and John Krafcik and Dmitri Dolgov, executives of the Waymo autonomous technology company.
The most important shock of the night took place when Wonder pronounced the opening word of the realization of Monáe. Four hundred faces – and their smartphones – came on when Wonder released his harmonica and started singing.She's not pretty. "
The holiday of love was reciprocal when the singer of "Dirty Computer" took the microphone. "Your music has helped me heal during the most difficult times," Monáe told Wonder, her voice shattered by emotion. "When I was trying to make the decision to talk to my family, I listened to Girl Blue and Love's Need of Love Today.
Monáe said her performance in the aftermath of the show, in which she played an energetic set of three songs ending with a dance over a banquet table, was reinforced by the presence of Wonder.
And there was another man of the hour: the late former President George H. W. Buisson. "I dined at home with him and his wife Barbara," actor and presenter Cheech Marin told reporters. "It was right in the middle of the O.J. [Simpson] tests, so it was a animated discussion, of which Barbara and I were on the same side. "
And which side was it? "You know, [that] he was guilty, "says Marin.
Donald Trump is another president mentioned. Marin and Leguizamo agreed that the current president could benefit from watching Leguizamo's one-man show, "Latin history for the morons. "Also invited to the surveillance evening: Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller and Stephen K. Bannon. "You know, people who may have never raised a book about history, especially not about Latin history," joked Leguizamo.
That said, the comic is optimistic about the state of the country. "It's like [Trump] is an enema for the whole country, "he told reporters. "We will be better and thinner in the end."
The last winner of the evening was Krasinski, who made the name known as Jim Halpert in "The Office". Krasinski emphasized that the opportunity to watch the series was the reason for the longevity and popularity of the film. "In one way or another, it's the people in your office or your own social dynamics that you know," he told the Washington Post. "Everyone knows a Dwight or a Michael, whether it's a teacher or a friend. This is one of those things where you feel as if you know these people and, as it is a fake documentary, they feel real. "
The actor-director invited his co-stars of "A Quiet Place," actors Noah Skirt and Millicent Simmonds, to present his visual arts award. "This experience [filming ‘A Quiet Place’] was the most truly special experience of my entire career, "he told a delighted audience, made up of his parents. "I have to make a movie that is really a love letter for my kids and I have to do everything with the love of my life by my side."
In the last line, he choked, "I just do not see how it can be better than that."