The DNC made history on Tuesday night, officially minting Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. With Clinton set to make her acceptance speech on Thursday, the evening was dedicated to the theme “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families,” highlighting Clinton’s dedication to supporting the rights, needs, and dreams of families, women, and children — particularly those who have been left behind.
And the stars were certainly behind Clinton all night as many of them shared their support of her, the causes they believe in, and their common dislike of Donald Trump. Here are the celeb highlights from night two of the DNC:
Elizabeth Banks makes epic Trump-esque entrance
The evening’s host, Elizabeth Banks, took to the stage amid the soaring chorus of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” seemingly bumbling her way around in the same cone of light that enveloped Trump at last week’s Republican National Convention in a beautiful send-up of what was an utterly bizarre Trumpian moment.
“You know I don’t usually say this about Donald Trump, but that was over the top. I just confirmed it now,” Banks joked. “The Trump campaign is so hard up for money, I bought that fog machine on eBay for 30 bucks. I don’t feel good about it.”
But she definitely felt good about continuing to rib Trump, adding, “I’m Elizabeth Banks. Some of you know me from The Hunger Games in which I play Effie Trinket, a cruel, out-of-touch reality TV star who wears insane wigs while delivering long-winded speeches to a violent dystopia. So when I tuned into Cleveland last week, I was like, ‘Ah, hey, that’s my act!’”
But then the actress got serious, discussing the importance of the next election and what it means for the country. Banks shared the struggles of her father, a Vietnam veteran who became a factory worker, and her mother, who worked at a library and a local bank, as the two strived to provide for their family.
“They worked hard. They struggled. Because like millions of American parents, they wanted to give their kids — four of us — a good life filled with boundless opportunities,” Banks said. “And it’s because of what Democrats built — good public schools, affordable health care, help in the hardest times — that they were able to do that.”
Banks then recounted how she found herself in Philadelphia, where she went to school at the University of Pennsylvania with the help of scholarships and financial aid, and eventually met her husband, Max.
“I will never forget that day in 1992 when we went on a big, romantic date — a rally for Bill Clinton,” she shared. “And it was there that I learned something really important about show business: The headliner should always watch out for someone stealing the show. Hillary Clinton rocked my world. A smart, committed, successful woman! And not for her own benefit, but a fighter for women and children, cops and first responders, health care and girls around the world … that’s Hillary Clinton. And that is what tonight is all about.”
Tony Goldwyn introduces mothers who have lost children to gun and police violence
President Fitz, er, Scandal star Tony Goldwyn strode to the podium to share more about his work with the Innocence Project, and how he strives to fight for the wrongfully convicted and their desire to spare others from the suffering they experienced. But it was his introduction to what he called the “mothers of the movement” — including the mothers of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner — that brought the house down.
“I am proud tonight to introduce a group of women profoundly impacted by injustice and violence. Who have turned their pain into power, and their outrage into action. They are the mothers of the movement,” Goldwyn told the crowd, which then erupted into raucous cheers.
“They understand that we must reach out to each other because of our diversity, because we are stronger together,” he continued. “You know, Hillary says we can’t hide from these hard truths about race and justice in America. We have to name them, and own them, and then change them. That’s what she’ll do as president. And the mothers of the movement prove that one life at a time, one mother at a time, we can change the world.”
This led to a video presentation of women who had lost their children to violence, showing Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton; Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal; and Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, among others, meeting with Clinton to discuss how to create change. When one asked what they could do, Clinton told her, “Well, I think you can continue to speak out, but it will be more effective if you do somehow band together so that it’s a constant drumbeat. As to say, look, we are citizens, we are mothers, we lost children, this is not only wrong, this is unacceptable, and here are the things that need to happen to try to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Each of the women then took the stage to share their hope for change — and their support of the woman they believe will help make that change. As Reed-Veal put it, “She is a leader and a mother who will say our children’s names. She knows that when a young black life is cut short, it’s not just a loss, it’s a personal loss. It’s a national loss. It’s a loss that diminishes all of us.”
Andra Day performs “Rise Up”
Singer Andra Day took the stage amid a boisterous chorus of people in the crowd chanting “black lives matter” to deliver an inspired rendition of “Rise Up,” backed by United Percussion. Standing dead center in front of the drumline, Day let her emotions shine through as the power of the previous moment drove her to an incredibly poignant delivery of her signature song about inner strength, power, poise, and grace. Definitely a banner moment. As Banks put it, “I’ve been backstage ugly crying.”
America Ferrera and Lena Dunham slam Donald Trump
We’re going to go ahead and say it: America Ferrera and Lena Dunham stole the show.
“Hi, I’m Lena Dunham, and according to Donald Trump, my body is probably, like, a two,” said Dunham.
“And I’m America Ferrara, and according to Donald Trump, I’m probably a rapist,” cracked Ferrera.
“We know what you’re all thinking. Why should you care what some television celebrity has to say about politics,” said the star and creator of HBO’s Girls.
“We feel the same way,” Ferrera said. “But he is the Republican nominee, so we need to talk about him.”
But seriously, folks. While Dunham argued that Trump insists on emphasizing our differences instead of what unites us, Ferrera passionately pleaded for the understanding that what makes us different is what built our country.
“I am a proud child of Honduran immigrants,” Ferrera shared. “I am profoundly grateful for the community that exists in this extraordinary nation. I was educated in public schools, my talents were nurtured in public arts programs, and you know what? Occasionally I needed a free meal to get through the school day.”
As Dunham clapped in support, Ferrera continued, “Not everybody looks at the millions of young people like me — children born into struggling families, children born to immigrant parents, children who are immigrants themselves — not everybody looks at them and sees an investment. But Hillary has spent the last 30 years proving what she sees in us. Not our color, gender, or economic status, but our capacity to grow into thriving adults capable of contributing great things to this country.”
Dunham chimed in to share her background as a pro-choice, feminist, sexual assault survivor with a chronic reproductive illness, pointing out how Trump is trying to send women’s rights back to when women were meant to be beautiful and silent. “Twenty-two years ago, Hillary Clinton declared that women’s rights are human rights,” Dunham declared, pointing out Clinton’s dedication to supporting the rights of those who are, and have been, marginalized.
“Donald isn’t making America great again — he’s making America hate again,” Ferrera added.
Can we nominate the team of Ferrera and Dunham to run against Kanye in 2020?
Debra Messing introduces 9/11 first responders and survivors
There were plenty of messages in support of unity, but actress Debra Messing drove the point home by speaking about the tragedy of 9/11 and reminding us how it brought us all together.
“The horrific attacks on September 11 rocked our country and my hometown to its core. As a proud New Yorker, the heartache of that morning and the trauma that followed will never fully fade,” said The Mysteries of Laura star. “But neither will the sense of awe I felt after watching so many brave men and women pulling complete strangers from the flames and wreckage, risking everything to protect us through hours and days of sheer terror.
“And out of the chaos and haze of 9/11 emerged the America we all know: not divided,” she continued. “Not spiteful. But full of strength, compassion, courage, fierce unity. Nothing could divide us on that day. And indeed our shared humanity was all that mattered. Christian, Jewish, or Muslim; black, white, Asian, or Latino; gay, bi, trans, or straight, we are one people.”
The crowd erupted into cheers, leading Messing to introduce us to one of the heroes of that day, NYPD detective Joe Sweeney. It was a touching tribute to those who helped support everyone affected by the tragedy, including Sweeney, who took the stage to share his story.
Hillary’s celeb supporters sing “Fight Song”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mandy Moore, Carl Reiner, Jane Fonda, Kristen Chenoweth, Eva Longoria, Kathryn Hahn… oh so many stars came out for this Pitch Perfect-inspired rendition of “Fight Song.” Did you count them all? We couldn’t…
Meryl Streep gives impassioned speech in an American flag dress
Forget the American flag bikini, it’s all about the American flag dress! And who better to make it a trend than Meryl Streep? The Oscar winner fired up the crowd with her version of a Howard Dean squeal before proclaiming, “We’ve got some fight left in us, don’t we?”
And then Ms. Streep took us to school.
“What does it take to be the first female anything?” Streep asked. “It takes grit, and it takes grace. Deborah Sampson was the first woman to take a bullet for our country. She served disguised as a man in George Washington’s Continental Army. And she fought to defend a document that didn’t fully defend her. All men are created equal, in red. No mention of women. And when she took a blast in battle to her leg, she was afraid to reveal her secret. So she took out a pen knife, she dug out the musket ball, and she sewed herself back up again. That’s grit.”
Streep went on to laud Clinton for her grace and celebrate other women trailblazers such as Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Madeleine Albright, and others for embodying the grit and grace to break through, forging new paths and encouraging the generations that follow.
“That’s Hillary,” Streep declared. “That’s America.”
Alicia Keys closes out the night like a “Superwoman”
“Women are the answer — we have the power to ensure this country gets on the right path,” Alicia Keys said, following with a plea for gun control, and wrapping things up with — what else? — a mini medley of hits, starting with a killer rendition of “Superwoman.”
Of course, Clinton beamed in from New York, appearing on a large screen over Keys as she performed. “I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” Clinton told the cheering crowd. “And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say, I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”