While accepting her Variety Icon Award in Cannes on Friday, Connie Britton — best known for memorable lead roles in “Friday Night Lights,” “Nashville” and “Dear John” — discussed using her platform in television to reflect women back to themselves.
The star, who most recently appeared in HBO’s “The White Lotus,” was in town for the fourth edition of TV festival Canneseries in the south of France. Britton, whose last trek to the Croisette was for advertising confab Cannes Lions, delivered a powerful speech as she accepted the honor during the fest’s opening ceremony.
“My goal has always been to use my privilege on reflecting women back to themselves, in the characters that I play, so that women can see themselves or know themselves more honestly or more powerfully, maybe for the first time, as they never imagined before,” said Britton.
“I think I’ve always held with a certain sacredness the belief that we as storytellers … can actually impact culture, whereby we can empower [and] reflect diversity,” she continued.
Britton became a household name for her portrayal of Tami Taylor, the nurturing other half of Kyle Chandler’s Coach Taylor, in NBC’s football drama “Friday Night Lights.” She went on to play fading country singer Rayna James in ABC’s “Nashville,” before a turn as successful interior designer Debra Newell, who is swindled by a con artist in Bravo’s “Dear John.”
Most recently, she played a cut-throat CEO on holiday in Hawaii with her dysfunctional family in “The White Lotus,” which was a runaway hit this summer for HBO.
Britton, who admitted she had trouble thinking of herself as an “icon,” elaborated on the collaborative nature in which she approaches her work.
Being an icon, she said, meant “building a relationship with the world, with the people with whom I work with — casts and crews, writers and directors, and plenty of people I’ve met along the way, in all parts of the world.”
Those relationships, she continued, “have been about trust and seeking, about collaboration and discovering with a deep responsibility to listen, watch, admire and reflect.”
Backstage, Britton had her share of celebrity fans. “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is heading the Canneseries jury this year, introduced himself to the star for the first time, reminding Britton that they both attended a United Nations event some time back. (Both Britton and Coster-Waldau are Goodwill Ambassadors for the UN’s Development Program.)
Meanwhile, Carla Gugino (“The Haunting of Bly Manor,” “Midnight Mass”) was also on hand to congratulate Britton.
Britton told Variety that she would be reuniting in Cannes with “White Lotus” showrunner Mike White, who is in nearby Saint-Tropez and is making the trek into Cannes to see the “Nashville” star.
Last year’s Variety Icon Award was presented to Judith Light (“Ugly Betty,” “Who’s The Boss”).
Other honorees at the Canneseries ceremony included “Sex Education” creator Laurie Nunn, who received the Konbini Commitment Award, and “Bridgerton” star Phoebe Dynevor, who took home the Madame Figaro Rising Star honor.