• Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
Scarlett Johansson, amfAR

Kevin Tachman

While many knowScarlett Johansson first and foremost as an actress, she is also an activist. As an ambassador of Oxfam, she has tirelessly worked towards ending the injustice of poverty worldwide and has traveled to places like India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya to fight against domestic violence, rights to education and basic healthcare. In short, Scarlett has dedicated herself to helping others. Just last night her activism was recognized by amFAR at their annual gala where she received an Award of Courage presented by longtime friend Mark Ruffalo

While accepting the award, the private actress opened up to the audience and shared very personal stories about growing up in a low-income household as well as her mother's very close friend who, tragically, lost his life to AIDS.

"My mother first met Anthony Kennedy in 1985. My parents started a weekly date night, going to the theater and out to dinner afterwards…coming from a low income family with four siblings, a night out on the town was a real luxury for my parents who were trying to connect with one another and themselves, no small feat for parents of four living in New York city. One night after the theater, my parents went to their favorite spot afterwards for a bite when the maître d sat at their table. My mother said the first time they locked eyes she thought, 'This is the most gorgeous charismatic person I have ever seen.' And that was the beginning of their alliance."

Scarlett continued to share the story of her mother's friendship with Anthony, adding, "My mother said that no one else gave her the kinds of compliments he gave her...It's the kind of magic felt between two people who find each other who don't expect anything from one another. 

"Tony had a particular admiration for my siblings and I, even would come over to our apartments for dinner or take us out for daytime outings with our mom. One particular strong memory I have of him, I remember looking out over the Empire State Building and it's the only time I've ever been. It was his favorite building next to the Chrysler building as it represents so much of the old new York and the aspirations of being higher or taller or as my mother says it represents everything New York."

"Although he never told my mother directly, and it became obvious after his partner passed away that Tony was sick. AIDS was a taboo subject that people whispered about, it was just then that Rock Hudson, our first public figure to acknowledge he had AIDS had died. It was the very beginning of amFAR's foundation and it was a conflicted time."

The A-list actress concluded by telling the audience, "When Tony passed away his ashes were scattered off the top of the Empire State Building...My mother thinks of him all the time, she never had a friend quite like him, and while they never had the romance some think of when they think of a romance between a man and a woman, it was a relationship that helped with what my mom felt was missing during that time in her life, so perhaps it was even more romantic than the conventional ideal."

There are currently more than 37 million people around the world with HIV AIDS, an epidemic that both amFAR and Scarlett are working to end.