American actresses Michelle Williams and Melissa McCarthy have become the first women to receive special awards celebrating Irish talent in the film industry.

The two stars, who were both born in the U.S., were among the honorees at the Oscar Wilde: Honoring The Irish In Film event in Santa Monica, California, on Thursday night.

The awards, named after the famed Irish writer, celebrate Irish culture in the film industry and have previously been handed to non-Irish stars including Paul Rudd and James L. Brooks, but Williams and McCarthy are the first women to accept the honor.

Williams, who was feted for her role in My Week With Marilyn, said she was "honored" to receive the prize and even read a verse by American poet Galway Kinnell during her acceptance speech.

She told the audience, "I consider it (this award) is from a land and from a people who are known for poetry, for literature and lore, for myth and legend. Being in a business that is about story-telling, I'm honored to be acknowledged by the original story-tellers."

McCarthy was unable to attend the event due to illness, but Hugo screenwriter John Logan was also honored and was presented with his award by Williams' My Week With Marilyn co-star Kenneth Branagh.

All three of the night's honorees are nominated for Academy Awards at the upcoming Oscars ceremony on Sunday.

The event was hosted by Star Trek director J.J. Abrams at the headquarters of his Bad Robot production company.