Lights, cameras…and then more lights and more cameras, as I drove through Beverly Hills on my way to the 26th Annual NAACP Theatre awards in Los Angeles, CA. The lights are those red, yellow, and green ones that on November 21, 2016, succeeded in stopping me every few hundred feet. The cameras are the little, and very well-hidden, cylindrical white ones that perch atop the light posts just to catch speedy drivers. So, today, I slow down, some, because I do not want taint the experience of hearing the names of my actor friends that were nominated for a theatre award. It brings back a bit of nostalgia when I was nominated for an NAACP award for Best Musical Director of a play at one point. However, this time, I planned to relax and just enjoy the event. But wait. I could not relax. I, Little J.H., was asked by Live Free Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, the Big J.H., to do interviews on the Red Carpet. Yikes!
I showed up on time–early even. I checked in, claimed a spot on the red carpet, snuck a few selfies, and called my camera gal, Mary Harris. She comforted me as she confirmed she was just pulling up to the 86 year-old beautiful and historic Saban Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard. It was unusually calm, but then again, it was early. Ron Hasson, the President of the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch strolled through the lobby in a black tux and gold bowtie that had swirls of blues, greens, and reds on it. I felt good that I opted to wear my best blue satin tux with black trim and a black paisley bowtie. Mr. Hasson kindly saluted Live Free Magazine, and with much composure, he clarified that his goal was to ensure that everyone was comfortable and were having a good time. And just like that, the room began to flood with energy.
Shon Fuller (Best Supporting Male Equity-Winner), Keena Fergusson (Best One Person Show-Winner), Tanya Alexander (Best Director Local-Nominated), Jah Shams (Presenter), and Danny De Lloyd (Best Supporting Male Local-Winner), all gave me a familial hug. I have had the pleasure of working with each one of them on stage and film. And of course, they graced our LFM camera.
And then, as if the red carpet lacked personality, I began to shake the hands of Samuel Jackson (Actor), Tammi Mac (Actor and TV Personality), Derek Fisher (Coach and Former NBA player), Kenny Lattimore (Grammy –Nominated R&B Singer), Louis Gossett Jr. (Acclaimed Actor), Rene Lawless (Actor-The Haves and the Have Nots), and Pooch Hall (Actor-The Game) to honestly name a few. The party had finally started but there was no near end in sight.
Wendy Raquel Robinson (Co-Host of the awards ceremony) stopped by to say hello in a mustard-colored dress that seemed to be painted on every curve of her physique. Timon Kyle Durrett (Actor and presenter) arrived in a black on black tux. Durrett towered over me just enough where I “almost” did the tiptoe thing but his spirit was grounded and gracious. He was also humble in slipping in a plug for his new hit show, Queen Sugar on Wednesday nights on the OWN. Berry Gordy (Motown music icon) put the icing on the cake. Mr. Gordy was rushed by the crowd as if the guest of honor had just arrived. It was also as if everyone had a premonition he would win the award for Best Playwright-Motown: The Musical. Mary managed to sneak a photo or two of me with the music giant. Mr. Gordy. Say Cheese!
Nevertheless, in addition to the festive spirit, there was a strong sense of responsibility and duty. Rory Pullens (Executive Director of the Los Angeles Unified School District art programs), Kerry Gordy (Music Executive and Fundraiser for performing arts in schools) and his cousin Seanne Murray (Creator of the Stop Stuff anti-violent clothing line) all stressed the need for supporting children and our community into, through, and beyond the arts.
Actor and director Ted Lange lent his signature smile and support to the event. Ledisi was receiving the Spirit award; and deservedly so, as her spirit on the red carpet shined brightly, even as the room began to lull and guests were ushered into the house. Joe Morton, was incredibly graciously as he prepared to receive the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Morton was one of the last of my interviewees. He spoke with such gratitude and respect for theatre and those that support the arts that I was gleefully reminded of why I do what I do, and why I love what I do.
All in all, the night was a blast. Live Free Magazine was in attendance and well-represented. Many were nominated. Some were awarded; some were not. However, all actors were recognized and respected for the their tenacity, their truth, and the talent they displayed on stage. Whether or not a trophy was taken home, a nomination in each of their respective categories was a great way to end 2016!
So, until next time, slow down and watch for those lights and cameras. Action!
Live Free Magazine
Other notable artists interviewed: James Pickens Jr., Debbie Allen, Lisa Renee Pitts, Kelly Ray, Eric B. Anthony, Gilbert Glenn, Gabriel De Angel, Nicki Micheaux, Jaki Brown, Nadege Auguste, Chris Gardner, Anastacia Coon, Mike Strong, Melissa Strong, Lunden Knighten
Special Thanks to NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch, Ron Hasson, Lisa Humphrey-Premier Concepts, all artists and guests.