NYWICI’s 2008 Matrix Awards — Diane Sawyer on Robin Roberts: ‘Made for Margaritas and Dancing’

Today at New York Women In Communications’ annual Matrix Awards Luncheon (from left): Presenter and ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff; honoree and Disney Media Networks co-chair/Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney; honoree and Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts; and presenter and co-anchor of Good Morning America Diane Sawyer

Emcee and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi (pictured below the jump), when complimented on her “amazing appetite,” gave away why “I’m uniquely qualified to do my job: I sit on my ass, I eat, and I talk”; honoree and playwright Anna Deavere Smith did her best Studs Terkel impression; Good Morning America co-host and ABC News co-anchor and presenter Diane Sawyer divulged that GMA co-anchor and honoree Robin Roberts is a friend “made for margaritas and dancing,” while Roberts confessed to the crowd that she calls Sawyer “Thelma,” as in half of the eponymous duo that drove the 80’s girls-gone-liberated buddy flick Thelma and Louise because “sometimes in the morning [hosting GMA], we feel like we’re about to go over that cliff holding hands.” More heartstring-pulling, hand-holding, hijinks and pictures from the event after the jump…

While spirits were high, high-profile female journalists abounded [sightings in the 1000+ crowd included CosmoGirl! EIC Susan Schulz, Glamour EIC and ASME president Cindi Leive, Redbook EIC Stacy Morrison, media reporters from event partner People, The New York Observer, Ad Age, Portfolio and more] and speeches were heartfelt during the lunchtime Matrix Awards presentation today at the Waldorf-Astoria by New York Women in Communications, the real gist of why the journalistic luminaries convened came through on the pre-event blue carpet, where honorees and their presenters told us firsthand why they were there.

“When we were all watching ‘June Cleaver,’ we couldn’t have imagined an Oprah Winfrey,” Deavere Smith said when we asked her if media representations of women have kept pace with women’s contributions to media. “We have made some strides.”

“To have all these great women celebrating you is an honor,” fashion designer and recipient of the first-ever Matrix Lifetime Achievement honor Diane von Furstenberg said, adding that having “dear friend,” CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour present it was an added pleasure. “She is amazing,” von Furstenberg said. “When you hear that voice on CNN, you pay attention.”

Wearing a dress of her own design, von Furstenberg paid extra attention when Amanpour sidled up to her on the blue carpet, gifting her with a bracelet before coming our way to talk. “[Journalism] is an extreme profession,” she said. So what advice does she give young women journalists eager to emulate her achievements? “You have to believe journalism is a force for good. Be prepared to do the hard work — you can’t expect to be at the top immediately. I came in to CNN at the bottom and worked my way up. That was important because it meant I knew every bit of what was being done.” And as for relating to readers/viewers/users? “Respect your audience,” Amanpour urged. “They are smart and they want real information. Be sure not to get swayed by the preponderance of the fluff, and the trivial.”