Though bitter winds made for the polar opposite of the tropical island paradise where dinosaurs chased her well-known character, Bryce Dallas Howard was in good spirits on her visit to Harvard to receive the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ 2019 Woman of the Year award on Thursday.
The actress, best known for her roles in the blockbusters “Jurassic World,” “The Help,” and “Gold,” was presented with her pudding pot at Farkas Hall and treated to a preview of the group’s production “France France Revolution” — itself a revolutionary production for the troupe, as it’s the first to feature a cast of both men and, now, women. Other festivities included the traditional parade through the streets of Cambridge, a celebratory roast, and a live-streamed press conference.
Howard started the day at Farkas Hall learning about the history of Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest such organization in the nation. The actress seemed wide-eyed as she took in some of the club’s cherished and quirky history.
“Oh my gosh, look at this!” Howard said as she spotted a crocodile mounted above the fireplace. It had been shot by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. president, who as a student was a member of the club.
After the tour, Howard added her name to the wall, joining the company of such past recipients as Meryl Streep, Debbie Reynolds, Katharine Hepburn, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Scarlett Johansson, Dame Helen Mirren, Octavia Spencer, and, most recently, Mila Kunis.
“Let me look at this for a second,” she said as she stepped back. “Wild! This is so wild! I can’t believe that.”
Howard, wearing puffy black ear muffs and accompanied by a dancing, cheering crowd, then braved sub-zero wind chills for the parade through Harvard Square, followed by a celebratory roast that ended with the presentation of her pudding pot.
“For some of, probably, the smartest people on the planet, you’re totally bananas,” Howard joked as she accepted the pot.
Bestowed annually since 1951, the Woman of the Year award is presented to performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to entertainment. Howard’s award recognized her wide range of critically acclaimed performances and her commitment to expanding the role of women in Hollywood.
“For the first time the door is opening,” Howard said. “And it’s not that there wasn’t a door before, but it was a lot to push through. Now there is a real shift that is happening. Part of that shift continuing is people pledging, ‘We will stand for nothing else.’”
In Howard’s latest film, “A Dog’s Way Home,” she provides the voice for Bella, a brown, mixed-breed dog who is separated from her family. In May she will be seen in Paramount’s “Rocketman,” produced by Matthew Vaughn, with Elton John and David Furnish.
Howard is the eldest daughter of award-winning director Ron Howard and, like him, is looking to find success behind the camera, as well. She has directed a number of short films, is set to direct an episode of an upcoming “Star Wars” television series, and will be directing the adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel “Sorta like a Rockstar” for Netflix, as well as a feature-length documentary with Imagine Entertainment.
“My personal hope is that I’m so busy directing that I’m not able to follow through on acting in the future,” Howard said.