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The annual EBONY Power 100 List recognizes the most influential and inspiring individuals from a broad spectrum of industry genres, across eight categories: Community Crusaders, Disruptors, Entertainment & Arts, Entrepreneurs, Innovators, MVPs, Power Players and the coveted Women Up category. Hundreds of guests descended on Beverly Hills for the EBONY Power 100 Gala, honoring those recognized in each category, for the star-studded spectacle attended by the who’s who in sports, entertainment, business, philanthropy, politics and social activism—hosted by internationally acclaimed actor and comedian Chris Tucker. Guests were encouraged to share their experience using #EBONYPower100.
Before the start of the gala, the world’s media lined a jam-packed red carpet, eagerly awaiting the arrival of some of today’s biggest names. A hand-picked selection of EBONY Power 100 industry honorees rubbed shoulders with acclaimed Hollywood celebrities during the red carpet arrivals ceremony, while dozens of guests registered for their table seating. Notable celebrities and high-profile personalities who attended the gala, some of whom adorned the red carpet in effervescent gowns and bold tuxedos, included David Oyelowo (Selma), Kat Graham (Vampire Diaries), Ne-Yo (singer), Chris Tucker (actor/comedian), Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us), Melanie Liburd (This Is Us), Bianca Lawson and Kofi Siriboe (Queen Sugar) Dyllón Burnside, Hailie Sahar, Indya Moore and Steven Canals (Pose), Debra Lee (former CEO of BET), Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown president), J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Sugar Ray Leonard (legendary boxer), Cedric Yarborough (actor), Ernie Hudson (actor), Cari Champion (ESPN), Mayor Andrew Gillum (Tallahassee, Florida), Mayor London Breed (San Francisco) and Mayor Stephen Benjamin (Columbia, South Carolina), Saweetie (singer), Hayley Law (actress), Marque Richardson(Dear White People), Israel Houghton (singer) and Adrienne Houghton (TV personality) Mehgan James (actress), Don Benjamin (model/musician), Amin Joseph (actor), Eva Marcille (actress/model), Deborah Ayorinde (actress), Courtney Kemp (co-creator, Power), and Symone Sanders (CNN), among others. Celebrity couples in attendance included Yolanda Adams (gospel singer), who attended on the arm of honoree Titus O’Neil (WWE star), and Cynthia Bailey (actress/model) joined beau Mike Hill (Fox Sports).
“This year’s EBONY Power 100 Gala was the most memorable to-date,” says EBONY Media Operations CEO Michael Gibson. “This year we honored the most eclectic group of outstanding individuals and prolific leaders who represent excellence in their respective fields. The excitement on the red carpet, leading up to the electrifying atmosphere in the ballroom reflected the tremendous attendance we had by Hollywood, professional athletes, politicians and business leaders, not to mention the heroic community activists, all of whom have made a significant impact on our lives. I would like to thank each of our 2018 Power 100 honorees, as well as our sponsors and readers for making this year’s event such a success.”
Following the introduction of actor Chris Tucker as the evening’s host, opening remarks were given by EBONY Media Operations Chairman Emeritus Linda Johnson Rice. Angela Bretz from Nationwide proceeded to introduce a heartfelt video about the legacy of EBONY Power 100. EBONY Media Operations Chairman and CEO Michael Gibson presented the inaugural EBONY Chairman’s Award to former BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee for her contribution to the broadcast industry. Susan Kelechi Watson and Melanie Liburd, actors from the hit TV show “This Is Us,” presented the honorees in the Women Up category, the first for the night, after which Motown Records President Ethiopia Habtemariam proudly introduced the first label performance by JAMESDAVIS that struck a musical chord with the capacity crowd, who enjoyed their first dinner course while listening to the soul-rock fusion tracks performed by the three siblings.
The evening progressed with highly anticipated presentations of the remaining honorees in each of the eight categories that form the EBONY Power 100 List. Gathering Spot’s Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen presented the honorees video for the Disruptors category; Senior Vice President, Retirement Plans Distribution at Nationwide Eric Stevenson presented the honorees video for the Community Crusaders category; actor and comedian J.B. Smoove presented the honorees video for the Entrepreneurs category; Managing Director of Labor Relations & Legal Strategy for United Airlines Jessica Kimbrough presented the honorees video for the Innovators category; Vice Chairman of Ebony Media Operations Willard Jackson presented the honorees video for the MVPs category; Lexus Advertising Manager Bruce Hines presented the honorees video for the Entertainment and Arts category, and EBONY Media Operations Chairman and CEO Michael Gibson returned to the stage to present the honorees video for the Power Players category. Linda Johnson Rice made a second appearance on stage to give a warm welcome speech for Motown Records President Ethiopia Habtemariam, who was presented with the prestigious EBONY Icon Award to commemorate the label’s diverse and historic artistry.
Motown Records General Manager Marc Byers appeared on stage to give an introduction to recording artist Ne-Yo, who graced the stage in a purple suit, complete with a foot brace that didn’t seem to hinder his exhilarating and unexpected four-track performance of his most popular tracks, including the hit single “Time of Our Lives.” The acclaimed artist was seen to weave among the seated gala guests, who stood and danced alongside his unrehearsed personal encounter. Following Chris Tucker’s closing remarks, guests made their way to the Nationwide Lounge to enjoy after-hours cocktails and classic beats by DJ Clark Kent. Chris Tucker was seen to be in a celebratory mood in the Terrace Room, while singing aloud to classic Motown tracks, as guests and celebrities alike danced with each other into the early hours.
In celebration of those whose work and heroism continue to inspire and influence society, the publication announced its 2018 EBONY Power 100 List in October. For more than 30 years, the EBONY Power 100 List has been curated by the editors of EBONY magazine and its staff, and is determined by the work, accomplishments and influential reach of each of the honorees. The complete 2018 EBONY Power 100 List can be viewed by visiting www.ebony.com/power100-2018
The EBONY Power 100 Gala was hosted by EBONY Foundation and benefited the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. Learn more about sickle cell disease and donate by texting “EBONY” to 91011 and using #SCDHOPEWINS. Follow #EBONYPower100 on Instagram and Facebook.