By Audrey Rock
Photos By Kitten Kay Sera
Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/25/17 – The Los Angeles LGBT Vanguard Awards were held Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton, honoring Ariel Emanuel, Co-CEO of WME and IMG, and Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor of the Obama Administration.
“I’m just hoping to help them raise some money, because of all the great work they do with regard to health care, education, housing, and legal support,” a gracious Emanuel told The Hollywood Times. “And whatever I can do to help them, I will.”
The event was filled to the brim with major figures in the entertainment industry, corporate, philanthropic, and civic communities. Actress Maureen McCormick, actor Milan Christopher, actor Wilson Cruz (a donor to the center himself), studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, director J.J. Abrams, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Golden Globe nominated actor Troy Garity, comedian Jermaine Fowler, celebrity stylist Chaz Dean, Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family, LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers, MSNBC host Lawrence O’ Donnell, model Robert Sepulveda Jr, American Horror Story actress Naomi Grossman, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, actor Jordan Doww, L.A. City Councilman David Ryu, director Peter Berg, and reality stars Erin and Sara Foster and EJ Johnson walked the red carpet in support of the LALGBT Center.
Jimmy Kimmel hosted the (frequently) politically-charged celebration, which included cocktails, dinner, entertainment by comedian Jermaine Fowler, and a high-end silent auction. The Rad Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award was presented by Shonda Rhimes to Valerie Jarrett; The Vanguard Award was presented by Mark Bradford to Ariel Emanuel.
Out on the carpet, it was clear that the origins of the Vanguard awards are about something as simple and euphoric as “breaking free.”
“Being here, connecting with the people,” said celebrity stylist Chaz Dean about why he attended. “Breaking out, and putting a voice to the faces.”
When asked about an iconic dance scene from “My So-Called Life,” actor Wilson Cruz, who played openly gay teenager Ricky Vasquez in the 90’s (a rare commodity on network television for the era), became emotional.
“I remember working on the choreography with Michael Rooney. It was really all about breaking free,” said Cruz before pausing and welling up. “Like, this boy…I get choked up thinking about it. You know, he’d been through so much. He just wanted a moment where he could just let it all out. So you know…that’s what I wanted people to understand.”
Cruz has been an avid support of the LALGBT Center, and his work there has hardly been in vain. Because it hasn’t just been money; it’s been a lifetime of effort; behind the scenes, within his career, in his everyday life. It’s part of his soul. One can see it in his very face. It goes all the way back to his vulnerable but brave; callow yet bold expressions as Ricky. He encompasses what the LGBT Center is all about.
“This place is so special to us; it’s been a stalwart provider of services and care in the LGBTQ community for 48 years,” he said. “And at times of real dire need, they’ve really stepped up. To see it become this model for other LGBTQ communities around the world is really gratifying. I’m thrilled to be a donor, and I’m thrilled to support their work.”