When media and entertainment influencers from the U.K. gathered at British Consulate General Chris O’Connor’s Hancock Park backyard for the 29th annual BAFTA LA Garden Party on June 26, Brexit was naturally the hot topic of conversation.
An annual summer Sunday of sunshine as guests — including Kate Beckinsale in Louboutins — juggled Pimm’s cups, tea and biscuits, and fish and chips, BAFTA’s gathering raised funds for their Los Angeles community, education and scholarship initiatives.
However at the end of the historic week in British politics, the topic in each of host O’Connor’s social circles was Brexit, “a little democratic exercise that we had in the U.K. last week,” he joked as he took the patio stage in his backyard to address 250 active L.A. entertainment industry creatives
“For those of you who are not news junkies, the Great British public decided to, as Gwyneth Paltrow would call it, a ‘conscious uncoupling’ from the European Union,” O’Connor said, referencing the Oscar winner’s delicate announcement of her and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin‘s 2014 divorce.
As a literal diplomat — by license plate, business card and title — O’Connor remained neutral and steady about the result of last Thursday’s referendum that resulted in the U.K. voting by a narrow margin to leave the European Union after 43 years, without a partisan tilt as he spoke extensively about the surprise result.
“(The vote) was a really major comprehensive democratic exercise,” O’Connor said. “This wasn’t some fringe group bringing their friends to vote on some issue that other people don’t care about. This was 72 percent of the voting population — 33 million people. The result was close, but the result was clear. The British public in a democratic exercise has given us our marching orders and we must implement them the best we possible can in the U.K.”
Other than an immediately more favorable exchange rate for visiting Americans and productions, the BAFTA brass emphasized that amidst the uncertainty, Hollywood should keep in mind that the country’s most accessible creative touchstones are constants.
“The talent won’t change,” BAFTA L.A. CEO Chantal Rickards told TheWrap while standing with the group’s Chairman Kieran Breen.
“Britain is a wonderful place to make films and television. We have the most talented on-screen people, wonderful crafts people, none of that is going away,” Rickards continued,
At this year’s Oscars, British winners included Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”), Sam Smith upsetting Lady Gaga and Diane Warren for Original Song, and “Amy” director Asif Kapadia amongst marquee nominees like Eddie Redmayne, Kate Winslet, Christian Bale and Charlotte Rampling.
“Situation normal,” O’Connor said of Hollywood’s own democratic exercises around awards season.
“The people on stage [accepting awards] are either Brits or Americans at all these award shows. All of the other countries represented [in L.A.] are always asking us how it’s done. We’ll keep that a secret,” he said.
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