Written by | Ray Cornelius

Oh, What a Night!

I had the pleasure of covering Tony Winning director Kenny Leon‘s “Celebrity Golf and Gala” on Saturday evening and I am still floating on cloud nine.  The invitation only event was the best one I’ve ever attended and was packed with stars from music, film, television and Broadway. The evening was held at Tony Conway‘s Flourish Atlanta in Buckhead and is one of Leon’s major fundraising events for his annual August Wilson Monologue Competition.

The program offers students from of all races and economic backgrounds access to free theatre education programs. Through the competition, students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to explore African American culture and history along with improving public speaking and reading comprehension skills. Participants in the AWMC are also offered free acting workshops to prepare for the competition and future mentoring opportunities. The program exponentially increases arts in education dollars for participating schools and builds the skills and confidence of the youth in the following participating cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New Haven, Buffalo, New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

Vanessa Bell Calloway, Cedric the Entertainer and Morgan Stanley’s Marilyn Booker

A record number of celebrities were in attendance this year including stage, TV and film icon Samuel L. Jackson, pop music superstar Usher Raymond, beloved comedian Cedric the Entertainer; actresses Vanessa Bell Calloway and Crystal Fox; media maven Tavis Smiley; actors Leon, Malik Yoba, Lamman Rucker, T.C. Carson and Flex Alexander.

Other famous faces included “Queen Sugar” stars Timon Kyle Durrett and Omar Dorsey; triple threat performer D. Woods (formerly of Danity Kane); HGTV star Egypt Sherrod; NBA legend Julius “Dr J” Erving; veteran stage and TV actors Glynn Turman and Eugene Lee plus rising actors Maurice Johnson, Michael Beasley and “BET’s The Quad” star E. Roger Mitchell.

The highlight of the evening was a performance of short scenes from August Wilson‘s classic play “The Piano Lesson” that was read by Leon, Jackson, Fox, Turman and Lee. Jackson played Boy Willie in the premiere of of the play in 1987 at Yale Repertory Theater and reprised his role last night much to the surprise of the audience.

It was followed by a riveting performance from Raven Pace, the First Place Finalist of the Atlanta Region of the August Wilson Monologue Competition. Ending the night was special performance from Grammy winning entertainer and actress, Stephanie Mills, who blew everyone away with a jazz rendition of her iconic song, “Home” from the Broadway musical, The Wiz.

Check out all of the photos below:

True Color’s Executive Director Jenn McEwen with Blaque Book Concierge’s Renee Palmer

Kenny Leon, Jennifer Leon, Tony Conway and Holly Firfer

Malik Yoba having a moment with Usher Raymond

Stephanie Mills dancing with Crystal Fox

D. Woods showing off her new tattoo

Kenny Leon with Usher Raymond

“The Piano Lesson” Reading featuring Crystal Fox, Kenny Leon, Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Lee and Glynn Turman

Crystal Fox and Kenny Leon as Berniece and Lymon

Samuel L. Jackson as Boy Willie

Glynn Turman as Wining Boy

Eugene Lee as Doaker

Kenny Leon is never without his famous sneakers

Crystal Fox and Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson with Eugene Lee and Glynn Turman

Raven Pace performing an excerpt from “Seven Guitars”

Stephanie Mills performing “HOME” from The Wiz

Kenny Leon and Dr. J presenting Samuel L. Jackson with the “Kenny Cup” for being the biggest supporter of the Golf Tournament

D. Woods with E. Roger Mitchell, Omar Dorsey, Timon Kyle Durrett and Michael Beasley

Egypt Sherrod

Cedric the Entertainer with Georgia Power’s Charmaine Ward and Tavis Smiley

Flex Alexander with T.C. Carson

Kenny Leon with Crystal Fox and Vanessa Bell Calloway

Usher Raymond talking to Sherman Edmiston (Essie Green Galleries) about his new purchase “Daybreak in Alabama”

Leon with T.C. Carson

Samuel L. Jackson with Raven Pace

Malik Yoba and his date

“Greenleaf” stars Lamman Rucker & T.C. Carson

BronzeLens Film Festival’s Kathleen Bertrand with Samuel L. Jackson

Kenny Leon with Marsha Shackleford, Timon Kyle Durrett, Maurice Johnson and Omar Dorsey
T.C. Carson with Holly Firfer (President of True Colors Theatre Company Board of Directors), Jenn McEwen & Crystal Fox

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com