BT1 / WENN 1 / 23

As marquee names from Hollywood's elite dined on lunch at the posh Beverly Wilshire hotel in Los Angeles on Friday, one of the event's guests of honor opened up about a childhood spent hungry.

"Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty," said a tearful Viola Davis at Variety's Power of Women luncheon on Oct. 10, according to Us Weekly. "I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where the next meal was coming from, and I did everything to get food. I have stolen for food. I have jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood, who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food, and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame."

The "How To Get Away With Murder" star was being honored for her work with the awareness and fundraising group Hunger Is, which, according to its website, seeks "to make sure that lack of nourishment no longer diminishes opportunity" for America's youth.

"I didn't decide to join the Hunger Is campaign to save the world. I didn't. I set out to save myself," Davis continued. "It has been the joy of my life to be able to start this campaign and know that that little girl with the ponytail [referring to herself as a child] and all the children like her -- 17 million, 21 million families in this country that have to be in food assistance programs -- that all of that can be eradicated. They can go about their business of being who they are and not sit in front of an SAT like I did, falling asleep because I was hungry. And not befriending people just because they know their mother makes banana bread after school. And jumping in trash bins. No one's childhood should be spent like that."

Other speakers included devoted Bronx, N.Y. native Jennifer Lopez, who discussed her Lopez Family Foundation, an organization that helps provide resources to needy moms; Jane Fonda, whose Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential works to empower teens; and Reese Witherspoon, an advocate of the global girls' education-focused Malala Fund.


2014 Emmy Awards

Celeb name pronunciation guide

Celeb protesters