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Maria Menounos reveals the Oscar speech that turned her into a feminist (EXCLUSIVE)


E! News host Maria Menounos knows firsthand that the Oscars can be a powerful place to promote a cause.

Menounos stopped by SheKnows to chat about her plans for this year’s awards show, and the impactful experience she had as an audience member in 2015.

This time last year, Menounos tell us, she became a feminist — all thanks to an Oscar speech. You probably remember Patricia Arquette’s award speech for Best Supporting Actress about wage equality. Before hearing Arquette call out the issue so openly, Menounos admits she had a “negative connotation drilled into my brain about feminism.” After “[the] incredibly moving speech about equal wages for women at the Oscars last year,” she says, “I really started looking into [feminism] a little deeper and friends of mine, really successful female friends of mine, were like, ‘Maria, it doesn’t mean what people made it to mean, it really is just about us being equal. It’s not an ugly term, it’s just that we deserve to get paid.’ So that made me feel better about it and threw out the negative stereotypes and connotation.”

More: Maria Menounos on her pre-cellulite: I’m OK with that

With the rise of celebrities using the public stage for political and social causes (never forget Beyoncé at this year’s Super Bowl), it’s refreshing to see that minds are actually being changed. Menounos is so on board with the trend that she’s chosen to support a charity of her own on this year’s red carpet. “I think anytime a celebrity who uses their power for good is a home run… it’s so important to use any stage that you can to bring light to an important cause, so I’m all for it,” she says. She’s taking a cause she’s passionate about — clean water — and bringing it into her spotlight.

More: Maria Menounos shares the secret to her longtime love

“I’m used to trying to make a fashion impact when I’m on the carpet, but this time I’m going to be making more of a social impact along with a fashion impact, and that’s really exciting to me,” said Menounos. She’ll be wearing a dress by Christian Siriano to the show, designed to honor the women who walk miles to gather clean water for their families. After the Oscars, she’ll auction the dress to benefit For Menounos, raising awareness is also part of the battle. “The Oscars is one of the biggest stages globally to be able to make an impact,” she says. Who better than Menounos to harness the attention fashion gets on Oscars night for a good cause?

Menounos tells us causes that have her heart include dog rescue and pediatric cancer aside from her work with Fans of her Instagram know she’s an especially big fan of elephants, often encouraging fans to foster baby elephants. (Could there be a cuter cause?)

If you’d like to support families in need of clean water, Stella Artois has released limited-edition chalices designed by artists from Kenya, Peru and Haiti. For every chalice sold in the U.S. up to 90,000, the brand will donate $6.25 to as part of their goal to provide five years of clean water for one person in the developing world. “It’s a huge, huge deal and it’s going to make a huge impact on people,” says Menounos. Kudos to the star on a big night of fashion and charity!

More: 13 incredible women the Academy Awards completely snubbed

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