Oscar nominated actress Viola Davis has spoken of growing up in “abject poverty”, during an emotional speech delivered during the annual Power of Women luncheon on Friday (October 10th).

Viola DavisViola Davis at the Power of Women luncheon

The actress, who stars in ABC’s 'How to Get Away with Murder', was speaking about her own personal experiences growing up which led her to get involved in the 'Hunger Is' campaign.

"I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame,” she said. Adding that her work to raise awareness about hunger in the United States has been "the joy of my life."

Daivs went on to thank her colleagues and supporters for being given the chance to "stand up in front of so many people, at the age of 49, and share my testimony and begin the process of healing.”

More: Our pictures from the Power of Women luncheon arrivals

Also at the event Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lopez were recognised for their humanitarian efforts.

Fonda, who has long been known for her charity work, was honoured for creating the 'Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential', which works to prevent teen pregnancy and inspire healthy lifestyles in the state. The 76 year old actress said, "I grew up believing that service is the rent you pay for life."

More: Could Reese Witherspoon Be Set For A 'McConaissance'?

Witherspoon was recognised for her involvement with the 'Malala Fund', the educational advocacy organisation established by Nobel Pace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. The actress said that she was inspired by her daughter, Ava, to explore the state of girls' education around the world and learn about Malala's efforts.

Jennifer LopezJennifer Lopez was also honoured at the event

Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez was given recognition for her charity the 'Lopez Family Foundation', which she started with sister Lynda, which aims to help needy families receive high-quality health care.